August 23, 2018

The USA and Europe — Partners or Opponents?

An objective point of view on the parties' relationship

Russian President V. Putin and Federal Chancellor of the FRG A. Merkel's meeting on August 18, 2018 caused another wave of massive insinuations by different media, politicians and experts in Russia, in the West and in Ukraine. For example, it is alleged that Moscow and Berlin are together in the joint struggle against the United States and, even, that a Russian-European alliance was formed on an anti-American basis.

The reasons for such trends are the “radical” changes in Washington's policy towards Europe which were made by US President D. Trump and “undermined” the partnership relations between the parties. First of all, in this regard, are pointed out D. Trump's decision to halt the talks on establishing a transatlantic free trade area between the USA and the EU, increasing import duties on European goods, as well as the ultimate demands to NATO member states to increase military spending to 2 % of GDP already in 2019.

Besides, the emphasis is also placed on the USA's other actions that seem to contradict European interests, namely, the toughening of Russian sanctions, which causes economic damage to EU countries, imposing American liquefied natural gas on Europe (LNG, not needed by Europe and more expensive than Russian gas), and threatening with imposing sanctions on “Nord Stream 2” project participants.

Some statements of the US President cause Europe's concern and of European politicians' indignation

Some statements of the US President cause Europe's concern and of European politicians' indignation

In this context, are widely criticized some statements of the US President that are emotional, ill-conceived, and sometimes rude, and cause Europe's concern and of European politicians' indignation. For example, since D. Trump's coming to power at the beginning of last year, most negative response has been to his words about the possibility of the USA's withdrawal from NATO, the USA's unilateral spending on European security and the dishonesty of the EU's actions in the American market.

Special attention is paid to the problems in relations between the USA and Germany as the actual leader of the European Union. In particular, an example of this was the informational and political scandal fueled by Russian and German media around D. Trump's statement in July 2018 about the FRG as Russia's “hostage”, as well as his allegations against Germany that “counts on protection from Moscow, but makes massive oil and gas deals with Russia, and pays billions of dollars a year to it”.

At the same time, the question is being inspired of the need for Europe's “adequate response” to the United States. For this purpose, the statements of European populist politicians with critics of Washington's actions and various “loud” proposals are spread, such as joining the EU's efforts to curb the US, setting up its own European army, rejecting the US dollar or setting up an US-independent payment system, etc.

 

…Russia is trying to create a public opinion about a “deep crisis” in relations between the United States and Europe…

All these are elements of the campaign by Russia and pro-Russian and anti-American forces in Europe and Ukraine that are trying to create a public opinion about a “deep crisis” in relations between the United States and Europe, which is allegedly already turning into confrontation between the parties in the political, economic and security spheres. Proceeding from this, “the NATO's approach to the collapse” and “the USA's intentions to withdraw its troops from Europe” are being argued, in order to encourage European countries to search for other partners, including to jointly defend their interests against Washington.

First of all, among these European partners is called Russia, which explains the “improvement” of relations between Moscow and top European leaders, which has allegedly been happening lately. And from such a maxim it is already concluded that Europe is ready to “give away” Ukraine for the sake of restoring full cooperation with Russia.

Sadly, such views are shared by some Ukrainian politicians and experts who occupy pro-Russian positions, are influenced by Russian propaganda or simply do not understand the situation, but they allow themselves to publicly demonstrate their vision of the development of events. Given the danger of spreading such opinions that undermine Ukraine's firmness in its confrontation with Russia, we'd better look at the true nature of the relationship between the United States and Europe, which differs greatly from what Moscow and its satellites are trying to display.

 

At the strategic level, the Euro-Atlantic partnership remains unchanged and is a “cornerstone” of the Western world

At the strategic level, the Euro-Atlantic partnership remains unchanged and is a “cornerstone” of the Western world

Thus, D. Trump's policy has indeed led to a deterioration of relations between the United States and Europe, and for the reasons given above. At the same time, the current problems in the relations between the parties are purely situational, and are largely due to the impulsive, populist and ill-considered actions of the President of the United States, which is a consequence of the peculiarities of his mentality. At the strategic level, the Euro-Atlantic partnership remains unchanged and is a “cornerstone” of the Western world.

In particular, the results of the Brussels Summit of NATO, July 11-12, 2018 confirmed this, having shown the unity of the United States and other members of the Alliance over the main issues of development and activities of the Organization. Thus, the inviolability of the key principle of NATO on collective defense was confirmed, was declared the attitude to Russia as a country that pursues an aggressive foreign policy and challenges the Alliance, and concrete decisions were made on further steps to strengthen the North Atlantic Alliance and to counteract the threats from Moscow. At this, NATO member states reaffirmed their commitment to increase defense spending, despite earlier disagreements over this issue.

At the same time, the USA is increasing its own efforts to curb Russia in Europe and keep playing a major role in this matter. Thus, the new US military budget for the 2019 fiscal year provides for the allocation of 6.5 billion US dollars for this, which is 1.7 billion US dollars more than in the current year. Of these, 3.2 billion US dollars the United States will spend on strengthening the US military presence in Europe, including the modernization of military bases and deployment of other facilities.

In particular, the development of the infrastructure of the Amari airbase in Estonia, where the A-10 aircrafts and the US Air Force fighters are scheduled to be deployed, including the latest F-22 and F-35s, will continue. Apart from this, the training infrastructure of the United States Special Operations Command will be deployed on the base. Reconstruction of runways, fuel stations and other facilities is also planned at the Hungarian airbase Kecskemet, Slovak — Malacky and Norwegian — Rygge. As in Estonia, there will also be based attack aircrafts and fighter jets of the US Air Force, and in Hungary there are also strategic C-5 military transport aircrafts.

In addition, the Pentagon's plans include the expansion of aviation warehouses with machinery, equipment and spare parts at the German Ramstein airbase and the British Fairford one. Due to this, the possibilities of operational deployment of the US Air Force in Europe will be increased.

The US military presence in Europe

 

US President D. Trump's meeting with the European Commission President J.-C. Juncker on July 25, 2018 in Washington
US President D. Trump's meeting with
the European Commission President J.-C. Juncker
on July 25, 2018 in Washington

Despite the existing problems, relations between the USA and the EU are constructive. Thus, as a result of D. Trump's meeting with the European Commission President J.-C. Juncker (July 25, 2018) in Washington, an agreement was reached on the normalization of the situation around American duties on European metallurgical products. At the same time, the parties expressed their intention to continue work on reducing customs barriers and expanding trade and economic cooperation in the spheres of providing services, as well as chemical, pharmaceutical, medical and agricultural products. To this end, an executive expert group will be created. According to the USA and the EU's agreements reached, during the negotiations there will be no additional customs restrictions introduced.

An important result of the negotiations was the parties' agreement to deepen strategic cooperation in the energy sector. In particular, EU countries are planning to build up to 12 new terminals for receiving and regasification of American LNG (today, there are 21 such terminals in operation in Europe). According to D. Trump's statement, which was supported by J.-C. Juncker, the solution to this issue will help to diversify gas supplies to Europe and reduce its energy dependence on Russia.

This completely dismantled Moscow's assertions about the EU's negative attitude to the USA's plans to increase the volumes of US liquefied natural gas deliveries to the European market. Evidence of this is also the fact of introducing a special provision for the construction of two terminals for receiving LNG on the German coast of the Baltic Sea in the coalition agreement between the ruling parties of the Federal Republic of Germany.

By the way, in July 2018, the results of D. Trump's meeting with A. Merkel on the sidelines of the NATO summit opened the way to resolving problems in American-German relations. Thus, the leaders of the two countries confirmed the strategic partnership between the USA and Germany, which creates favorable conditions for further development of their relations in all spheres.

The resilience of the Western world is based on the common strategic interests of the USA and Europe

The resilience of the Western world is based on the common strategic interests of the USA and Europe

In general, these circumstances fully demonstrate the resilience of the Western world, which is based on the common strategic interests of the United States and Europe. It is the immutability of such interests that is the main guarantee of the preservation of the unity of the West, despite the external and internal challenges that exist to date and will exist in the future. In turn, this guarantees the continued support of Ukraine on the part of its western allies.