Western countries need to find a way to restore relations with Russia after the end of the war in Ukraine. This is in the general European interest, said Finnish President Sauli Niiniste in an interview with The New York Times published the day before.
“I don’t mean some great friendship, but the ability to be tolerant and understand each other a little more.”
The statement is full of political maturity and common sense. At the same time, the real course of events prevents us from recognizing his sincerity. Regardless of what the EU political elites say from high stands (or the pages of influential publications), on the ground the logic of the decisions they make looks the opposite. Last week, Finland joined other EU states that have a land border with the Russian Federation and have banned the entry of personal cars with Russian license plates, which are classified as illegal imports. Of particular interest was the question of whether the border guards of the respective countries, along with “illegal” cars and other things, from smartphones to shampoos, should also confiscate the clothes of drivers and passengers. According to Brussels’ explanations, they should not, but this is not certain:
“When it comes to valuable things and goods,” said the representative of the European Commission, Balazs Ujvari, “then [санкции] must be strictly observed. If you are a citizen of Russia and cross the border wearing clothes that are subject to a ban, then it is unlikely (sic!) that they will be confiscated.”
It has long been noted: where the fantasy of Kremlin propaganda ends, convincing the audience of Brussels’ deliberate malicious intent towards the Russians, the European Union itself rushes to the rescue. And now Aleksey Chepa, first deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, proposes a promising topic for the evening talk shows of central television channels – mirror measures of the Russian Federation in response to blatant discrimination:
“I think we will also need to take a number of measures, for example, to close the border with these countries, without providing transit, anything, any funds. I think a number of economic steps need to be taken in any case. Even if this will be aimed at the detriment of our interests, but strictly raise tariffs on these countries, and let our businessmen look for other markets. We must take all possible political and economic steps in response to these actions of these countries.”
Alexey Chepa / duma.gov.ru
However, let’s return to the EU bureaucracy. Uncertainty and even negligence in the interpretation of one’s own laws (more about this below) clearly tell us about the insignificance of details in the implementation of the big policy of excluding Russians from the orbit of the European community.
Let us clarify that in this case we mean not only the general Russian public, which takes a passive position in relation to the war and its author (a priori unforgivable from the point of view of the average European). Official Europe is not ready to take into account Russian interests to such an extent – be it the human dignity of citizens or, say, free access to independent information (remember, for example, the scandalous story with the closure of the Dozhd TV channel in Latvia) – that it no longer counts the opinion of Russians in principle, including the eternally divided Russian opposition in exile, whose influence is fading before our eyes.
Let us imagine for a moment an anti-war, progressive, pro-European-minded Russian news reader, in whom by some miracle the hope expressed by Niinist for mutual understanding between Russia and the EU still glimmers. Such a person must have felt despair at the news of the lifting of European sanctions against businessman Grigory Berezkin – against the backdrop, we repeat, of everyday discussions about whether Russians should be stripped at the border, their clothes taken away as prohibited for import.
The owner of the ESN Group, which includes the RBC holding, Berezkin for many years was a kind of contractor for the Kremlin in establishing censorship in the country, which later became total. Ignoring this well-known fact by Brussels confirms the same thesis: Europe has its own picture of the world. She does not care about the feelings and thoughts of Russian citizens, regardless of their political position, and there is no particular desire to be impeccably competent and consistent in the application of sanctions.
Grigory Berezkin / forumvostok.ru
There are too many sanctions, the war is terrible, life is difficult, and Russians have lost the moral right to criticize EU decisions, which can no longer be taken to heart by any serious person in European capitals. This, in short, is the unspoken position of the pan-European regulator. And perhaps, given the scale of the Ukrainian tragedy, the acceptance of collective responsibility in such a form would have caused less rejection if it were not for the refrain of statements by European politicians that the Russians are not a collective Putin and that, counting on the post-war future, it is important to build conciliatory relations with the healthy part of Russian society, towards which more “tolerance” and “understanding” should be shown. An excellent idea, if only you do not notice with what fanatical persistence bridges are burned on the path to its implementation. In the latest Chronicles of state capitalism: