On May 13, the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti published a commentary by Viktor Marakhovsky that was headlined: “European media: Russia has become the West’s last hope.” However, none of the Western sources cited in the article support that headline.
First, the author cited a Washington Post op-ed piece by Anne Applebaum about how the end of the Cold War marked the end of “American hegemony.” The main focus of the piece was the Trump administration’s rejection of the Iran nuclear deal brokered by the previous U.S. administration. While Applebaum claimed that rejection of the agreement will drive a wedge between the U.S. and its European allies, she did not suggest the latter might find Russia or any other country to be a suitable replacement for the U.S.
In his RIA Novosti piece, Marakhovsky suggested that the U.S. is using the image of an aggressive Russia to rally its European allies, but that while the latter claim to be concerned about Russian threats, they are in fact increasingly cooperating with Russia.
“The EU countries have regularly participated in ‘repel the Russian threat’ political festivals, but at the same time they have expanded economic cooperation with Russia year after year,” Marakhovsky wrote.
While it is true that trade between Russia and the EU has increased rapidly since 2017, it steadily decreased from 2012 to 2016. It is unclear if the uptick in trade between Russia and the EU since last year is a lasting trend. Some see the increased trade as a potential trend toward normalization of the trade relationship, despite unresolved issues surrounding Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine. However, new U.S. sanctions are set to go into effect, which could push the trade numbers back down.
Moreover, while the U.S. and Germany have disagreements over the construction of the Nord Stream II natural gas pipeline from Russia, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Russian President Vladimir Putin that the new pipeline would not be allowed to cut Ukraine out of its role in gas transit to Europe.