Tuesday

30th May 2017

EU and US pledge solidarity in face of Russia

  • Obama's visit to the EU headquarters was his first ever since coming into office in 2009 (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Barack Obama and top EU officials have described America and Europe as a fortress of justice against Russia, but indicated that Ukraine is on the other side of the wall.

The US leader in his first visit to the EU capital, on Wednesday (26 March), told press: “We are more secure, we are more prosperous, the world is more just, when Europe and America stand as one.”

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy called Russia’s annexation of Crimea “a disgrace.” He said “in days like these” the EU and US must forge closer ties “to show our own public opinion and the wider world who we are … economies based on rules, societies based on values, and proud of being so.”

European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso added: “I’d like to say to the American people that you can count on us as your best friends and allies.”

Obama also warned Russia not to test his obligation to defend former Soviet and former Communist countries who joined Nato.

“At the core of Nato is our Article V commitment to collective defence … there’s no junior Nato members versus senior Nato members, when it comes to collective defence everybody is on the same footing,” he said.

The three politicians pledged to help Ukraine and pro-EU governments in Georgia and Moldova to resist Russia’s machinations.

Obama said EU and US blacklists and Russia’s exclusion from the G8 are “the most significant sanctions against Russia since the end of the Cold War."

He added: “If anyone in the Russian leadership thought the world wouldn’t care about its actions in Ukraine, or that they could drive a wedge between the EU and US, they clearly miscalculated.”

But he drew a line around Crimea.

He said the West will trigger economic sanctions against Russia only “should Russia move forward and engage in further incursion into Ukraine.”

He also drew a line around Nato, saying there are no plans for it to extend its defence pledge to Ukraine or Georgia.

“Neither Ukraine or Georgia are currently on a path to Nato membership. There are no immediate plans to expand Nato,” he noted. “Part of the reason why Ukraine has not applied for Nato membership is because of its complex relationship with Russia and I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon.”

Obama and Van Rompuy struck a different tone on Russia relations despite the show of solidarity.

The US leader said Russia deserves “isolation” on the world stage. But Van Rompuy said the blacklists are “not a punishment - sanctions are an incentive to seek a diplomatic and peaceful solution.”

The difference was echoed in Berlin.

Obama on Monday in The Hague belittled Russia by calling it a “regional power.” But the German spokesman on Tuesday said: "The German government considers Russia to be an important force in Europe and beyond."

Meanwhile, Obama urged EU countries to reduce their security dependence on the US and their energy dependence on Russia.

“If we’ve got collective defence, it means everybody’s got to chip in and I have had some concerns about a diminished level of defence spending among some partners in Nato, not all, but many,” he said.

He added that if the EU and US agree a free trade deal, he will increase exports of shale gas to Europe.

But he noted EU countries have their own shale deposits, which they should develop despite environmental concerns.

“We’ve [the US] been blessed by some incredible resources, but we’re also making choices, and tackling some of those concerns and challenges of energy development, and Europe will have to have those same conversations,” he said.

Opinion

Denouncing myths on Nato and Ukraine

At its September summit in Cardiff Nato should open its doors to Bosnia, Georgia, Macedonia and Montenegro, writes the Lithuanian foreign minister.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhat's Going on in Catalonia? Join the Debate on 8 June
  2. Swedish EnterprisesDo We Need a More Social Europe? A Lively Debate Awaits You on 7 June
  3. Centre Maurits CoppietersDiscover the Role of Feminism in the Peripheries of Europe on 9 June
  4. Malta EU 2017EU Group Launched to Focus on Priorities and Policies Concerning Children
  5. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  7. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  8. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  9. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  10. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  11. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  12. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade

Latest News

  1. Macron and Putin hold uneasy first talks
  2. From Greece to Scotland, we stand by Europe
  3. Juncker keen to build EU 'bridge' to Trump
  4. Ministers water down post-Dieselgate reform
  5. Club de combat: des espions russes recherchent des recrues européennes
  6. Judges refuse to 'let go' of Le Pen's fake jobs case
  7. Merkel: Europe cannot rely on its allies anymore
  8. Macron to tell Putin EU sanctions to stay