Politics Regional

For France, Italy, and Germany, European solidarity is a wobbly construct

The governments of the European Union’s three largest economies, France, Germany, and Italy, insist that they stand for Ukraine’s democratic sovereignty and European solidarity.

It’s a wobbly stance.

Each day, Russia takes new steps toward a reignited war with Ukraine. Each day, Russia threatens NATO to suspend its activity in EU states such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Romania. And each day, France, Germany, and Italy offer increasingly absurd answers to Russia’s aggression.

Let’s start with Germany.

Addicted to cheap Russian gas and the associated appeasement of Vladimir Putin’s government, Germany is reluctant to assist Ukraine or Berlin’s other EU allies. Indeed, the degree of Berlin’s disinterest in European solidarity is singularly ludicrous. Consider Germany’s response to escalating criticism over its preventing NATO allies from providing Ukraine with arms. Has Berlin reconsidered its position? Not a chance. Instead, Berlin has proudly announced that it will send 5,000 helmets to Ukraine. Such generosity will surely warm Ukrainian soldiers’ hearts, if not their heads. If those soldiers are to face Russian 125 mm tank shells, they will at least do so in style.

Then, there’s France.

French President Emmanuel Macron often speaks eloquently of the need for Europe to adopt a strengthened foreign and security policy outside of its U.S. alliance. He calls this “strategic autonomy.” Yet when it comes to the practical need to defend the supposedly sacrosanct EU principle of democratic sovereignty, it’s all quiet on the eloquent president’s front. France says it is willing to deploy troops to bolster Romania but has yet to do so.

At the same time, French diplomats criticize British support for Ukraine as dangerously excessive. From Paris, Macron now suggests that any trans-Atlantic sanctions response to a Russian reinvasion of Ukraine must be “graduated depending on how” significant any invasion is. His implication is the same as President Joe Biden’s last week. Namely, that the EU won’t do much if Putin simply seizes Ukrainian territory along the Sea of Azov, for example. But where Biden corrected his gaffe, Macron offers no such qualification.

Finally, there’s Italy.

Long problematic in its relationship with Moscow, Italy’s response to the current crisis is quite simple. It’s a policy of utterly unrepentant greed. Take what happened on Wednesday, when numerous CEOs of top Italian corporations held a video conference with Putin. They knew that doing so wouldn’t exactly consolidate the EU’s pledge that any Russian attack on Ukraine will result in a unified sanctions response. But why worry about that?

The chairman of the Italian-Russian chamber of commerce, Vincenzo Trani, rejected criticism of the summit’s timing. Instead, he told Tass that what matters is “an open discussion, free from political background, for mutually beneficial” economic growth. Translation: Arrivederci, Ukraine.

Where does this leave us?

Well, if you want to understand why those European nations most threatened by Russia most value their relationship with the U.S. over the EU big three, the current situation encapsulates why.

Source: Washington Examiner

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