Could a second cold war be on its way? The United States of America and the European Union are about to “close agreeing sanctions against Russia”, reports the Wall Street Journal.
On Wednesday, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin was seen holding an olive branch. He asked European leaders to take “real steps” to resume healthy political and economic ties.
However, the recent Salisbury nerve agent attack in the United Kingdom sparked outrage among the international community. German Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed that the relations with Russia were complicated, especially since the end of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty with the United States.
Diplomacy seems now to have reach a dead end since the annexation of Crimea. Will Russia change its line? Analysis.
A tense situation since 2014
25 years almost after the end of the cold war, Russia and the western world have kept a tense relationship.
In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, sparking international outrage. A few days later, a commercial plane from Malaysian Airlines, the MH-17 with hundreds of passengers on board, was destroyed by a Russian missile. All 298 travelers and flying crew perished.
Last year, an international investigation confirmed that the plane was destroyed by 9M38 series missile, a weapon owned by the Russian army.
This diplomatic incident – Russia later said it believed the aircraft was not commercial, but military, created a knot of tensions for the years to come.
After five years of tension and multiple encounters to sustain a good diplomacy, the situation took a radical turn this month.
On February 1st, U.S President Donald Trump declared he would suspend the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty originally signed between Mikhail Gorbatchev and Ronald Reagan in 1988.
— Reuters (@Reuters) February 21, 2019
This treaty was limiting long-rang missiles in both countries. A day after Donald Trump’s announcement, Vladimir Putin said Russia would suspend it too.
Yesterday, Putin said to the United States in a public speech: “I am ready for another Cuban Missile crisis if you want one”.
“Inevitable”, according to Angela Merkel
For the German chancellor, the decision taken by Donald Trump was “inevitable” after years of violations by Russia.
However, she stressed that it was “a very interesting constellation that a treaty that was basically found for Europe, an agreement on disarmament that concerns our security, was terminated by the USA and Russia”. She also insisted in China being involved.
#UPDATE China must be involved in international disarmament efforts, German Chancellor Angela Merkel says, amid rising concern about Beijing's missile arsenal and the suspension of a key US-Russia arms treaty https://t.co/XURL0RLyq2
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) February 16, 2019
When it came to diplomacy and relations with Russia, the Chancellor declared that “Geostrategically, Europe can’t have an interest in cutting off all relations with Russia”. So, how are the European leaders and the United States going to cope with this new situation?
EU Foreign ministers to meet on Monday
Several options were shared to the press to punish Moscow for seizing three naval Ukrainian ships in the sea of Azov.
According to an exclusive report published in the Financial Times, targeted individuals and companies should be sanctioned sometime next week. “This is waiting in the wings,” shared one of the diplomats to the newspaper.
Opinion: As the US vice-president Mike Pence and the German chancellor Angela Merkel delivered opposite messages during the Munich Security Conference last week, China and Russia have the most to gain. https://t.co/SZXPHqf3kl
— Financial Times (@FinancialTimes) February 21, 2019
In the meantime, media report that 24 Ukrainian sailors are held captive by Russia. While the European Union and the United States have repeatedly asked for them to be released.
In what seems to be a bis repetita from the cold war, a former Russian admiral told the British media The Independent that Russian missiles could easily hit the American soil “within minutes”.
All eyes are on the European foreign ministers and next week’s meeting, that will hopefully release the tension and find a deal to free the Ukrainian sailors.