Friday

20th May 2022

How 'firm' and 'strong' was EU rebuke to Russian envoy?

  • Russia's EU ambassador Vladimir Chizhov (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

The EU and Russia gave two differing accounts of what happened on Monday (3 May), when Russia's ambassador was ordered in for a reprimand over anti-EU sanctions.

Two senior EU officials, Ilze Juhansone and Stefano Sannino, gave the Russian envoy, Vladimir Chizhov, quite a tongue-lashing over the affair, according to the EU side.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Chizhov "was informed of the strong rejection and firm condemnation" of Russia's recent decision to blacklist the EU Parliament president and an EU commissioner, the EU foreign service's readout said.

Russia's blacklist was "purely politically motivated" and "lacked any legal justification", they added.

Juhansone and Sannino also voiced "grave concern" over Russia's recent expulsions of Czech diplomats from Moscow and warned Chizhov that EU foreign ministers or leaders meeting later this month might take "appropriate measures".

It was the first time in his 15-year career in Brussels that Chizhov had been summoned for a formal rebuke.

But according to his office, Monday's meeting sounded more like a two-way chat on how to make nice.

"Both sides expressed regret in connection with the recently intensified trend towards their [EU-Russia relations] deterioration," the Russian readout said.

"The importance of diplomatic efforts to rectify the current unhealthy situation in the dialogue between Moscow and Brussels was stressed. The Russian side reaffirmed its readiness for this endeavour," it added.

The "situation" arose because Russia tried to murder its top opposition figure, Alexei Navalny, then jailed him, while, at the same time, seeing a lethal purge against LGBTI people in its Chechnya province.

It also arose because Russian spies killed two Czech citizens in a bomb blast in 2014, it recently emerged.

These triggered EU human-rights sanctions and Czech expulsions of Russian diplomats, while Russia denied everything and responded in kind.

But the "trend", which Chizhov so "regretted", began years ago, when Russia invaded first Georgia and then Ukraine to try to rebuild its Soviet-era power.

And Chizhov himself, who has been in his post in Brussels since 2005, was likely instrumental in targeting the Italian EU Parliament chief, David Sassoli, and the Czech EU commissioner, Věra Jourová, in Russia's recent blacklist, in order to cause offence.

For her part, Jourová told the Politico website, last weekend, that she was sick of EU officials and diplomats from western countries thinking they knew better how to handle Russia than those from the former Iron Curtain states, whom they labelled "Russophobes".

Meanwhile, Juhansone, who spoke to Chizhov, is a former EU ambassador from Latvia, whose foreign ministry has a clear-eyed view of Moscow's malign policies toward Europe.

But Sannino is a former diplomat from Italy, which tends to be more Russia-friendly.

He has told press he highly valued input on Russia from Baltic states' diplomats.

But he is also known as being part of a circle of Mediterranean officials around Spanish EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell, who think it is the EU's job to mend ties with Russia, instead of Russia's job to end hostilities, an EU source said.

"It's quite likely Sannino did say [to Chizhov] how sorry he felt about deteriorating ties - it sounds like him [Sannino]," the source told EUobserver.

"People like Sannino, Serrano, and Mora are for-ever worried about what the EU should be doing to improve relations [with Russia]," the source added, referring to Pedro Serrano, Borrell's Spanish chief-of-staff, and Enrique Mora, Borrell's Spanish deputy secretary general.

Bulgaria accuses Russia of other bomb attacks on Nato

Four explosions and an assassination attempt in Bulgaria were likely perpetrated by Russia, Bulgaria has said, after the Czech Republic, a fellow Nato ally, said Russia killed two people there in 2014.

Czech leader downplays Russian bomb attack

The Czech government has downplayed the significance of Russia's lethal attack on a weapons depot in 2014, but further retaliatory measures, including at EU or Nato level, could follow.

Podcast

Ultraconservatives in Putin's shadow

Vladimir Putin's Ukraine war has threatened to be a public relations disaster for hard-right gatherings like the Conservative Political Action Conference — now meeting in Budapest and featuring Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, who remains highly-cordial with the Kremlin.

Opinion

Will 'Putin's Nato' follow Warsaw Pact into obscurity?

Valdimir Putin's equivalent to Nato — the Collective Security Treaty Organization of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Belarus — is convening in Moscow next week to give cover that Russia is not alone in its war against Ukraine.

News in Brief

  1. Half of Gazprom's clients have opened rouble accounts
  2. Macron seeks 'quick' EU answer on Moldova application
  3. German chancellor to tour Western Balkans
  4. UN: more than 8,000 civilians killed or injured in Ukraine
  5. EU agrees new minimum gas storage target
  6. EU justice agency to have more roles on war crimes
  7. More than 50,000 Ukrainians refused entry into EU in 2021
  8. Germany open to EU treaty change 'if required'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. MEPs urge sanctioning the likes of ex-chancellor Schröder
  2. MEPs call for a more forceful EU response to Kremlin gas cut
  3. Catalan leader slams Pegasus use: 'Perhaps I'm still spied on'
  4. More EU teams needed to prosecute Ukraine war crimes
  5. French EU presidency struggling on asylum reforms
  6. EU states warn of looming food-price crisis
  7. Ultraconservatives in Putin's shadow
  8. Nordic Bridges unveil latest highlights of Spring programme

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us