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September 16, 2021

Brussels Should Follow Biden’s Lead in Engaging Russia

By Nicholas Lokker

Intra-EU divisions were on full display this past June, when a Franco-German proposal for a summit with Vladimir Putin met fierce resistance from Poland and the Baltic states.

Rather than walking away all together, EU leaders should emulate Washington’s Russia strategy of balancing engagement with upholding core values, forging a new consensus on the parameters of dialogue ahead of the upcoming European Council meeting in October.

EU divergences on how to approach Russia stem from varying experiences and perceptions; but Brussels’ Russia policy must find a middle ground between these different views.

The Putin regime’s consistent disregard for core EU values leaves no room for an overly romanticized approach toward Russia. Yet Russia’s proximity and power make it impossible for the European Union to sidestep in addressing pressing challenges such as climate change, the increasing disorder in the Arctic, or cybercrime.

EU leaders should emulate Washington’s Russia strategy of balancing engagement with upholding core values.

The European Union should therefore engage Russia pragmatically on a narrow set of issues, while remaining clear-eyed about its broader intentions.

US President Joe Biden’s approach to Moscow may serve as a model for the European Union. During the first year of his presidency, he has simultaneously engaged Putin on crucial issues such as cybersecurity and strategic stability while standing firm on U.S. values such as human rights.

A similar approach could thread the needle between Western and Eastern European concerns. Moreover, by working in lockstep with the US, the European Union stands to maximise its negotiating position and therefore its chances of achieving desired outcomes from Moscow.

Read the full article from Euractiv.

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