The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) is preparing to pass a law to counter sanctions imposed by other countries on China. Beijing wants to give legal status to its countermeasures against the punitive actions taken against China by the United States, the European Union and their allies.
Georgia and the EU celebrate a political agreement putting an end to a crisis that could have disrupted the democratic advancement achieved over the past decades and weakened Georgia’s progress along its European path. “The EU can count now on a stable, fiercely pro-European partner in a region essential to Europe’s values, security and connectivity “
The European Union is blocking Russia-made vaccines against Covid-19, the head of Russia’s external intelligence service said. Russia has repeatedly accused the West of political manoeuvring against the vaccine. However, Russian leaders also said early on in the pandemic that the country would not approve widely used Western vaccines made by companies such as Moderna and BioNTech.
An ugly spat over post-Brexit fishing rights has erupted between Britain and France, as naval ships from both countries converged in the waters off the island of Jersey, where dozens of French fishing boats were threatening to blockade a port. Relations between Britain and France had already soured on a range of issues as Britain and the European Union divorced.
The European Union will consider sending a civilian training mission to Mozambique to help the government withstand a growing insurgency. Mozambique’s government has been facing an Islamist insurgency since 2017, putting at risk natural gas projects.
The European Union will allow the United States, Norway and Canada to join a project to overcome delays in moving troops across Europe. The decision means NATO members Norway, Canada and the United States also become the first foreign countries to collaborate in the EU’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) pact, which aims to deepen defence ties.
The European Union is planning to tighten the foreign investment rules in the bloc to make sure that local producers and industries are no longer undercut by non-EU investors that have faced slacker rules up to now. The plans will surely affect China, which has invested heavily in Europe.
Japan will hold a joint military drill with US and French troops in the country’s southwest. It comes as Tokyo seeks to deepen defense cooperation beyond its key US ally to counter Beijing’s growing assertiveness in the East and South China seas.
Hong Kong’s electoral reform bill has been introduced in the city’s legislature, setting in motion changes that will give Beijing greater control over the process while reducing the number of directly elected representatives.
Japan held consultations with the European Union on security following joint naval exercises in the Gulf of Aden and in the Arabian Sea, as well as a joint port call on Djibouti. They aim to extend their cooperation to other partners in the Indo-Pacific region.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that he was against the idea of establishing NATO alliances in the Middle East and Asia, commenting on recent calls for establishing similar bodies in both regions.
India is concerned about a vacuum developing in Afghanistan following the proposed withdrawal of United States from the country. India’s big worry is that instability could spill over into its Muslim-majority territory of Kashmir.
A car bomb blast ripped through a luxury hotel’s parking area in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, where China’s ambassador to Pakistan was staying. Chinese nationals and their interests in the region have been attacked before by Taliban militants.
Russia is a major world power, and if the EU can attempt to bully it in such a dangerous way, then there’s nothing stopping the bloc from doing the same to comparatively weaker countries.
The European Parliament (EP) passed a resolution on Thursday threatening very serious consequence against Russia if it carries out an “invasion” of Ukraine. These include immediately stopping oil and gas imports from the country and cutting it off from the SWIFT payment system, as well as freezing the assets of so-called “oligarchs” and their families on top of canceling their visas. The text also condemns alleged Russian intelligence operations in Europe, including disinformation operations and the latest claims that its agents were behind the 2014 munitions blast in Czechia. They also want to stop Nord Stream II.
The EP also supports meddling in Russia’s internal affairs. Examples of this include criticism of the country’s recent jailing of anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny due to his parole violations and the authorities’ decision to investigate whether his organization is extremist. The resolution expresses support for unsanctioned rallies in Russia too while criticizing the authorities’ response to them. One of the most disturbing proposals put forth is to seriously consider the UK’s proposal for a “Global Anti-Corruption Sanctions Regime”, which could predictably be exploited for political purposes considering the tense relations with Russia.
The EP’s resolution is therefore very dangerous because it shows that ideologically driven anti-Russian political forces in Europe are serious about imposing extreme costs on Moscow solely for warning that it might defend its legitimate border interests and those of its citizens in Eastern Ukraine in the event that Kiev launches a military operation there. Cutting Russia off from the SWIFT payment system might be akin to an unofficial declaration of war considering the country’s international financial dependence on it. In addition, it’s counterproductive to stop importing Russian oil and gas when no viable alternatives exist at the moment.
Russia, like all countries, has an obligation to enforce its laws. Navalny’s jailing was done in accordance with existing legislation on this issue, as is its breaking up of unsanctioned rallies and temporary detainment of their participants. As a case in point, some EU countries have also detained participants of unsanctioned rallies that were organized against their COVID-19 lockdowns in recent months, especially whenever they clash with police. Furthermore, France is currently investigating various organizations as extremist ones, just like Russia is doing too. The basis of Brussels’ proposed meddling in Moscow’s internal affairs is therefore hypocritical.
The rest of the world is rightly concerned after this resolution was just passed. Russia is a major world power, and if the EU can attempt to bully it in such a dangerous way, then there’s nothing stopping the bloc from doing the same to comparatively weaker countries. In addition, similar resolutions might one day be tabled against China too on a similar basis as well. Basically, nobody would be safe if the EU succeeds in cutting Russia off from SWIFT and so openly meddling in its internal affairs by criticizing its law enforcement agencies and their work. That’s why this resolution is so dangerous to world peace.
COVID-19 is still sweeping across the world, and the extended effect of lockdown has been disastrous for the EU member states’ economies, not to mention the psychological health of their citizens. There are much more urgent tasks at hand for the EP to tackle than concocting a list of threats and criticisms to officially make against Russia. It’s disappointing to see that it’s more focused on such issues than those much closer to home. Their supporters might argue that Russia’s alleged assassinations, attacks, and disinformation plots constitute pressing domestic threats, but none of these have been publicly proven and thus remain speculation.
The EU is approaching an historic crossroads whereby it can finally become more independent of American influence or it can continue to languish under the boots of US neo-imperialism. Judging by the latest resolution, it regrettably appears that the EP is opting for the latter after jumping on America’s anti-Russian bandwagon to score political points with their patron across the Atlantic. This is dangerous and counterproductive to EU interests. What’s more, it’s also deeply unfortunate too since the EP can and should put its legislative skills to work trying to solve more urgent crises like COVID-19 instead.