LONDON, October 31 (RIA Novosti) – Anyone with experience of family law is familiar with the syndrome of an abused wife. This is a wife who is repeatedly abused by her husband but who repeatedly returns to him no matter what anyone says or does. The lawyers and experts are baffled. All their endeavours however invariably come to nought in face of her insistence on returning to her husband. He of course continues in exactly the same way.
The relationship of the US and the EU is starting to acquire something of the same quality.
As is widely acknowledged the EU’s economic relationship with Russia is of an entirely different order of magnitude to that of the US.
In 2012 the total trade in goods between Russia and the EU stood at 336.5 billion euros. Russian exports to the EU were worth 213.3 billion euros whilst the value of imports to Russia from the EU was 123.2 billion euros. In terms of total foreign trade turnover Russia is the EU’s third largest partner after the US and China. In terms of imports of goods Russia comes second, ahead of the US though behind China. Counting both goods and services, Russia is the EU’s fourth biggest export market after the US, China and Switzerland. EU member states account for approximately 75 percent of foreign direct investment in Russia. Russia provides approximately a third of the EU’s natural gas needs.
Compared to this immense trade relationship, the one between Russia and the US is puny. In 2012 total trade turnover between the US and Russia was just $39.9 billion. Russia exported $29.27 billion of goods to the US and imported just $10.67 (a large proportion of which were aircraft).
These figures understate the importance of Russia as a trade partner for individual EU member states. Several EU member states are, for example, wholly dependent on Russia for their natural gas supplies.
Beyond these raw figures there is the future. Since 2000 the Russian economy has expanded rapidly. At a time when the EU is wracked by problems and seems locked in stagnation trade with Russia provides hope for the future. Economists have spoken of the supposedly perfect match between Russia’s boundless resources and the EU’s manufacturing strengths.
Given the vital importance of this relationship to the economic wellbeing and future of the EU, one might have expected EU leaders to do everything in their power to keep the relationship in good order. That is what the EU electorates, to whom they are in theory responsible, have a right to expect. What has happened instead is that the EU leadership has wilfully sacrificed this relationship to serve US geopolitical goals in which the EU has no obvious material or political interest.
For reasons best known to itself, the US decided some time ago that it would treat Russia as an adversary. Accordingly, they have has relentlessly expanded NATO eastward, violating a promise given to Russia in 1990 that it would not do so. They have pulled out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and plan to set up an anti-missile system that is transparently targeted against Russia in eastern Europe. They orchestrated a vicious media campaign against Russia falsely representing it as a dictatorship. They have actively meddled in Russian domestic affairs, financing opposition groups against the Russian government and passing legislation that purports to penalise Russian officials for supposed human rights violations that are completely unsubstantiated. Last year on the eve of the Sochi Olympics, they promoted an entirely bogus campaign accusing Russia of persecuting homosexuals. They have actively supported violent anti-Russian policies by often extremist anti-Russian groups in Georgia, the Baltic States, Ukraine and the Caucasus.
The US’s purpose in conducting this campaign is not always clear but it seems to flow from the US’s inflated opinion of itself as the world’s “hyperpower” and “indispensable nation”. Russia, because of its independent policies has seemingly become an obstacle to these hegemonic goals.
The much greater mystery is why, with so much at stake, the EU has been such an active accessory in these policies when it has nothing obvious to gain from them. It is not as if the EU is in any sense an equal partner of the US in this quest for world hegemony. The EU’s relationship to the US is quite obviously a subservient one. Nor can the EU seriously believe that it needs the US to protect it from Russia, which accounts for around 5 percent of the world’s defence spending, as opposed to the 57 percent the NATO states spend. As for the fiction that Russia is a dictatorship, it is difficult to believe that EU leaders seriously believe such an absurd fantasy. As it happens, the EU shows little concern about maintaining friendly relations with countries like Saudi Arabia and China whose internal politics are much more strictly controlled than Russia’s are.
What is indisputable is that the EU is paying an increasing price for this subservient policy. Since sectoral sanctions were imposed on Russia, business confidence in the EU, especially in Germany, has collapsed. The EU, unlike Russia and the US whose economies are both accelerating, is now on the brink of recession.
US Vice President Joseph Biden has openly bragged that it was the US which somehow “forced” the EU to impose sectoral sanctions on Russia. How the US could have “forced” the EU to do something it didn’t want to do is unclear. Had the EU acted in its own interests and said no, it is not obvious what the US could have done. Though the US is in a position to intimidate individual EU states it is scarcely in a position to simultaneously bully all of them or the EU as a whole or even the largest states within the EU such as Germany. The mere threat however seems to have been enough even though on any objective assessment it was empty.
The German business community is said to be furious with this counter-productive anti-Russian policy and there is no doubt this attitude is widely shared. Several EU leaders, such as Orban of Hungary and Feco of Slovakia, have spoken out against it.
The policy and the sanctions nonetheless continue with no sign of change. German Chancellor Merkel is said to be angry not with the US for forcing her to act in a way that is putting the German economy at risk but with the German business community for complaining about it.
It seems that like the abused wife the EU cannot prevent itself coming back for more.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.