Lotus Coffman, the fifth president of the University of Minnesota, said: “The chief support of an autocracy is a standing army. The chief support of a democracy is an educated people”. And Oliver Wendell Holmes, who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States in the early 1920’s, added: “To reach a port we must sail, sometimes with the wind, and sometimes against it.
But we must not drift or lie at anchor”. The re-election of Vladimir Putin as President of Russia feels like a slap in the face of the West, and it’s actually not the first. As Putin is tightening his grip on power and his influence worldwide, will the European Union keep sailing in the right direction to thwart Putin’s plans? Here are the events that make the European Parliament bristle.
The Crimea crisis: a discomfort in the Europeans’ unconsciousness
Ukraine is a priority partner for the European Union, also within the EU’s Eastern Partnership. An Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) between the EU and Ukraine, was negotiated between 2007 and 2011 and signed on March 21st and June 27th 2014. That is the reason why the Russian annexation of Crimea was felt as a serious wound in Europe.
It followed a series of restrictive measures, diplomatic actions and economic sanctions against Russia focusing on de-escalating the crisis in Ukraine and on assisting Ukraine in ensuring a stable, prosperous and democratic future for all its citizens. Recently, the European Council prolonged the EU sanctions over actions against Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The wound is still open and tensions between Ukraine and Russia are heightened.
The cyber-meddling: U.S under attack
A 37-page indictment by a grand jury in Washington accused 13 Russians and 3 organizations of an elaborate, years-long plot designed, in part, to sway the US presidential election in favor of Trump. McMaster, probably future ex-senior adviser of Trump, told last month at a security conference in Germany that the evidence is now really incontrovertible and available in the public domain.
The document also provides extensive evidence of a sustained effort to disparage Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, by backing Trump and Bernie Sanders, who challenged her for the Democratic nomination. The Russian nationals were accused of working with the Internet Research Agency, a St Petersburg-based “troll farm” to flood social media with pro-Trump content, including election-related hashtags such as “#TrumpTrain” “#Trump2016” “MAGA” and “Hillary4Prison”.
But the campaign went further when Russian agents clandestinely traveled to the US and “posed as US persons and contacted US social and political activists”. Since the end of the Cold War in 1991, it is the biggest Russian breakthrough on U.S soil revealing the frailness of the U.S security and integrity.
The rise of conservatives in Europe: the Russian Trojan horse
According to the Telegraph, American intelligence agencies are to conduct a major investigation into how the Kremlin is infiltrating political parties in Europe. Under the Obama era, James Clapper, a US Director of National Intelligence, has been instructed by the US Congress in 2016 to conduct a major review into Russian clandestine funding of European parties over the last decade. The review reflects mounting concerns in Washington over Moscow’s determination to exploit European disunity in order to undermine NATO, block US missile defense programs and revoke the punitive economic sanctions regime imposed after the annexation of Crimea.
A dossier of “Russian influence activity” seen by The Sunday Telegraph identified Russian influence operations running in France, the Netherlands, Hungary as well as Austria and the Czech Republic, which have been identified by Russian agents as entry-points into the Schengen free movement zone. We understand the reasons why far right political parties in Europe such as Jobbik in Hungary, Golden Dawn in Greece, the Northern League in Italy and France’s Front National, which received a 9 million euros loan from a Russian bank in 2014, relentlessly defend Russia and Vladimir Putin’s politics.
Pierre-Claude-Victor Boiste, a famous French lexicographer in the early 19th century, said: “there are crimes that are never forgiven like treason”. For how long will the European Union tolerate Russia’s incessant and sneaky attacks on its territory? Are today’s economic sanctions simply enough?
The United Kingdom: a poison envy land
Relations between London and Moscow have been in the diplomatic deep freeze for more than a decade, and are likely to chill a few more degrees with the spy poisoning scandal that happened in the United Kingdom. The UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats after Prime Minister Theresa May said Russia was “culpable” for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, describing the Salisbury attack as “part of a pattern of Russian aggression against Europe”.
The leaders of France, Germany and the US have already pledged support for the UK in a joint statement and the EU offered its “unqualified solidarity”. Here is a terrible fact: in the U.K only, there were 14 assassinations involving Russians citizens during the past 12 years.
According to experts, more tensions and conflicts between Russia and the European Union will rise. For Douglas Shoen, an American political analyst, Putin’s master plan is to destroy Europe, Divide NATO and restore Russia’s power and global influence in the world. A new Cold War is on and traitors are sitting in our European backyards.