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'EU is weak!' Former diplomat turns on Brussels and tells Putin to ignore bloc's threats

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Sebastien Cochard, a former senior adviser to the European Parliament and G20 Presidencies, was speaking at a time of heightened tensions between the EU and Russia, not least over Ukraine, where large numbers of tanks and troops massed at the borders prompted fears of an imminent invasion. Prior to that, top diplomat Josep Borrell’s ill-fated trip to Moscow dealt a blow to the bloc’s credibility after he was forced to stand by awkwardly which Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed the EU as an “unreliable partner”.

Mr Cochard said: “The best thing Russia can do is to ignore EU institutions. Ignore the European Commission, Parliament, Council representatives.

“EU institutions are weak and do not represent anyone.”

The EU’s various institutions wanted “to look like the victims,” Mr Cochard added.

Referring to EU sanctions against Russia, he claimed they were a “suicidal game where absolutely everyone loses,” adding: “Our unnatural division serves the United States and China.”

He warned: “EU sanctions, which occasionally induce consistently reasonable Russian counter-sanctions, are causing irreversible damage to the economic relationship between EU member states and Russia.

“The EU institutions and some of its member states continuously allow themselves unbearable and unwarranted interference in Russian internal affairs.”

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Mr Borrell faced stern criticism after his trip to Moscow in January, which came just days after the arrest of dissident politician Alexey Navalny.

During a joint press conference, Mr Lavrov said: “We are getting used to the fact that the European Union are trying to impose unilateral restrictions, illegitimate restrictions and we proceed from the assumption at this stage that the European Union is an unreliable partner.

“I hope that the strategic review that will take place soon will focus on the key interests of the European Union and that these talks will help to make our contacts more constructive.”

Mr Kowalski, a member of the Polish Parliament as well as Deputy Minister of State Assets, told Express.co.uk: “Josep Borrell’s visit to Moscow on February 5, 2020 is one of the greatest humiliations in the history of the EU foreign policy.

“This visit has confirmed that Russia does not see the EU as a serious partner.

“Moscow holds serious talks with Berlin and Paris, but never with Brussels.”

Mr Kowalski added: “Borrell discredited the idea of the common EU foreign policy, which is in the interest of Germany and France.

“Moreover, Putin’s regime made it clear: forget about any compromises on Navalny.”

In an illustration of the ongoing diplomatic difficulties between the EU27 and the Kremlin, Russia’s ambassador was summoned to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 3 to be told Moscow must behave responsibly after it refused entry to several European officials, a ministry spokeswoman said.

One of those barred was French politician Jacques Maire, who is in charge of reporting in the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe on the poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll told reporters: “These measures (by Moscow) are unlikely to de-escalate current tensions (between Moscow and the West) and we therefore expect Russia to adopt responsible behaviour in order to achieve this.”

(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)



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