EU says Russia bets on Europe’s division

The top EU official says Russia is betting that the bloc’s united response to the Ukraine war will fall apart as prices escalate.

European Union (EU) foreign policy senior official Josep Borrell said on August 23 that Russian President Vladimir Putin had seen “the fatigue and reluctance of the European people to suffer consequences of supporting Ukraine”.

Mr Borrell accused the Russian president of betting that the EU’s united response to the conflict in Ukraine would be disrupted as soaring prices hit Europeans.

The EU’s top official said the bloc would face costs, stressing the need to maintain the cohesion of its 27 member states “day by day”.

EU foreign policy official Josep Borrell in Strasbourg, France, on April 6.  Photo: AFP.

EU foreign policy official Josep Borrell in Strasbourg, France, on April 6. Image: AFP.

Borrell will next week hold meetings with EU foreign and defense ministers in Prague, hoping to strengthen a “united diplomatic front” against Russia over its military campaign in Ukraine.

EU member states have agreed to a series of sanctions against Russia and its officials, including key sectors of Moscow such as energy and gold.

However, the current state of energy prices and soaring inflation have left some EU members, including the main economic pillar of Germany, facing the risk of a severe recession.

The European Statistics Agency (Eurostat) on July 29 announced that July’s inflation in the euro area was at a record high of 8.9%. In Germany, inflation was 7.5% in July, well above the European Central Bank’s 2% target. In Spain, inflation hit a 38-year high of 10.8%.

Europe is a huge market and trade union, so economic sanctions from the EU can have a heavy impact on the other side. However, any sanctions from the EU must be agreed upon by all member states.

Hungary, which is considered the most pro-Russian of the EU’s 27 member states, has repeatedly criticized sanctions targeting Moscow and warned Europe to “shoot itself in the lungs”.

Ngoc Anh (Theo AFP)

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