Foreign Policy

The diplomatic tensions between the EU and Russia are rising

Here is today's foreign policy mandate: European Union Countries drive out three Russian Diplomats, Donald Trump's second Impeachment proceedings The process begins and Colombia temporarily granted legal status Venezuelan Refugees.

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EU countries expel Russians in diplomatic acts

Relations between the European Union and Russia hit a new low on Monday when three EU countries each expelled a Russian diplomat.

On Friday, Russia banned three EU diplomats – one each from Germany, Sweden and Poland – for allegedly participating in protests in support of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny. The EU states claim that their employees only observed the protests in accordance with the internationally recognized diplomatic convention.

Europe's retaliation comes after EU foreign policy leader Josep Borrell made a three-day visit to the country that got worse and worse.

Borrell said before the trip that the EU "cannot say:" I do not like you, I will stay in my corner "to rival countries and was pushed to the point of humiliation by his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. At a joint press conference Lavrov accused the EU for being an "unreliable partner", citing the imprisonment of Catalan leaders by Borrell's native Spain as an example of the EU's double standards on human rights.

The trip went really sour when Borrell found out about the expulsion of the three EU diplomats on social media on Friday while he was still in talks with Lavrov.

Drift. In a blog post that was written after the trip, Borrell deviates in his assessment of diplomatic euphemisms and explains that the two powers are "drifting apart".

"It seems that Russia is increasingly decoupling from Europe and viewing democratic values ​​as an existential threat," wrote Borrell.

While the spit is unlikely to completely ruin collaboration on certain issues (especially now that Europe's botched vaccine procurement strategy may need Russia's highly potent Sputnik-V coronavirus vaccine), the episode could serve to drive public opinion in the To harden the bloc against Russia and to persuade the EU to align its policies more closely with the United States.

Arctic bombers. What US policy towards Russia could bring with it became clear on Monday when CNN reported that the US Air Force would soon be dispatching B-1 bombers to Norway for the first time and taking on missions it close to the northwestern border Would bring Russia.

Gas problems. The likelihood of a lockstep between the US and the EU on Russia policy is mitigated by energy problems in Europe's largest economy. Despite US objections, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is on track to bring Russian gas to Germany, which, as Constanze Stelzenmüller writes in Foreign Policy, is one of three German controversies currently affecting the harmony between the US and the United States Obstruct the EU.

What we are following today

Myanmar protests. Protests for democracy in Myanmar broke out again as residents defy new orders issued on Monday evening banning mass gatherings in the country's largest cities. The fourth day of the demonstrations comes after state television first acknowledged the public unrest and warned residents that such acts are destabilizing the country. In a televised speech, coup leader General Min Aung Hlaing reiterated his unsubstantiated claim that the November elections showed widespread electoral fraud and promised to hold new elections in a year's time.

Trump's impeachment proceedings. The US Senate opened the second impeachment proceedings against former President Donald Trump in Washington today. With two-thirds of the Senate voting for a conviction, Democrats face an uphill battle to convince Republican senators to vote against Trump, who remains hugely popular with the Republican grassroots. The process is expected to continue over the next week.

Venezuela's exodus. Colombia is expected to grant temporary legal status to the more than 1.7 million Venezuelans who have fled to the country. Under the conditions announced by Colombian President Iván Duque on Monday, Venezuelans who entered Colombia without a permit before January 31 are entitled to legal protection, which makes life and work in the country easier for them. The United States estimates that around 5.4 million people have left Venezuela in the past few years.

Netanyahu in court. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pleaded not guilty at the start of his corruption trial in Jerusalem on Monday. Netanyahu is charged with fraud, breach of public trust and taking bribes – allegations that the Israeli leader dismissed as "witch hunts". Speaking to reporters on Monday, Netanyahu said he expected the process to go beyond the date of the parliamentary elections in Israel on March 23, adding that the beginning of the evidence process before that point would be viewed as "clear interference".

Haiti's power struggle. The Haitian opposition has appointed Joseph Mecene Jean Louis, a senior judge, to take on the role of interim president in a transitional government as the battle to remove President Jovenel Moise mounts. Moise's critics say his five-year term has expired since his election in 2016.

Moise – and especially the US government – argue that his term ends in a year since he was sworn in in 2017. Moise has vowed to complete his term, which will likely include a referendum on a new Haitian constitution.

bits and pieces

The United Arab Emirates will be the first of three countries to complete missions to Mars this month as the Al-Amal probe goes into orbit over the planet for a 687-day surveillance project. A Chinese probe is expected to reach Mars on Wednesday and spend months in orbit before descending to the planet's surface. This makes it only the second country to explore the Martian soil. On February 18, an American rover, Perseverance, is scheduled to land on Mars, which would mean NASA's ninth successful landing on the Red Planet.

That's it for today.

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Credit: JOHN THYS / POOL / AFP

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