With top U.S. Army General saying that Russia can destroy the U.S., Europe seems to slowly turn away from Washington, just like U.S. allies in the Middle East do.
Europe and the Obama administration have had a number of differences lately, particularly on everything that has to do with Russia. But American journalists noted a sharp increase in criticism from European leaders and media toward the U.S., and particularly toward U.S. President Barack Obama.
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“For years, Europe treated Mr. Obama as virtually untouchable, an off-limits symbol of positive change in America,” American journalist John Vinocur told Sputnik News. Vinocur reminded that back in 2008, the entire Europe was enchanted by Barack Obama’s promises to change the world for the better.
Seven years and hundreds of unfulfilled promises later, the enchantment – or spell – has worn off, and the “continent is growing disenchanted with Barack Obama,” Vinocur said. Moreover, “there is a willingness in Europe to place blame on [Obama] himself.”
Today we see that European “politicians are naming him specifically in their rationalizations for cozying up to Russia. Commentators are mocking what they see as Mr. Obama’s boundless caution,” the journalist noted.
Growing pro-Russian, anti-Obama sentiment in Europe
The sharp shift in European attitude toward the U.S. took place about two weeks ago when German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s former chief of staff Ronald Pofalla criticized Obama for “antagonizing” Russia. “It wasn’t clever of Barack Obama to have downgraded Russia, in connection with the Ukraine conflict, to the level of a regional power,” the journalist quoted Pofalla as saying.
And it wasn’t just that. Last week, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that unlike the U.S. President, he has always considered Russia a “global power, not a regional one.”
“The US president is getting openly dissed,” Vinocur concluded.
And it must be noted that European media has openly been expressing its disdain with the U.S. policy toward Russia lately. In October, Berlin-based Tagesspiegel called the U.S. President a man “no longer feared in the Middle East” in an article titled ‘Indecisive and Half-Hearted’.
How desperately does Europe really need Russia?
Moreover, there has been numerous remarks from top European officials that Europe needs Russia’s help in solving various crises around the world.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that foreign policy is not about placing countries into “black-and-white” categories.
“Whatever you call it, we need Russia to solve numerous crises and conflicts across the world,” Steinmeier said in an interview to the local Neue Westfaelische newspaper, published Wednesday. The minister added that a consistent dialogue is required even if the countries have differences.
Despite Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and EU sanctions against Russia, Berlin has maintained dialogue with Moscow, Steinmeier noted. He added that the lifting of sanctions would not immediately heal up Russian economy, but Germany is still willing lift the sanctions once the Minsk peace agreement is fully adhered to.
Putin’s big game in Europe and Syria
While Russia had claimed that its intervention in the Syrian Civil War is supposed to bring down Syria’s refugee crisis, it seems like it’s the other way around. Russian airstrikes, which claims to be targeting ISIS militants, are forcing tens of thousands of civilians to flee the constant bombings.
And it’s Europe who has to suffer from the migrant crisis, not Russia, according to The Jerusalem Post. Holdouts for refugees “will not appear on the roads of Russia, mind you: Unlike Germany or France, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin will not hesitate, while terrorizing tomorrow’s refugees, to slam the door in their faces,” the article wrote.
And Putin does not seem to be secretive about his intentions in the war-torn country. According to reports in Russian media, Moscow has recently deployed the missile cruiser Moskva, as well as dozens of anti-aircraft missiles, to the port of Latakia.
But the newspaper notes that ISIS has never acquired an air force that needs to be neutralized. “Rather, the Kremlin evidently will view as a legitimate target any aircraft that might pass over territory that it comes to regard as being under its control,” the article said.
The newspaper also warned that Russia could bring down a plane flying under the flag of the U.S., U.K, France, Turkey or any other member of the U.S.-led coalition, which is why the Syrian crisis could easily spiral into a war between the world’s largest nuclear powers: Russia and the U.S.
But The Jerusalem Post also notes that Russia’s military operations in Syria, which have been largely aimed at making Russia the master of the Syrian airspace and protecting the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regime, are not bolstering efforts to defeat ISIS.
Putin’s Party in Europe is becoming a reality
“Putin is not just a fireman who sets fires; he is an old-school imperialist,” as noted in the article. Putin’s Syrian operation is partly designed to deflect attention away from the Ukrainian crisis, the newspaper notes, adding that his “thinly veiled threats” against the Baltics, Poland, Finland and Turkey, the airspace of which has been violated by Russia MiG fighters, reveal a “strategy of aggression” that is aimed to weaken Europe.
The article urges Europeans to wake up to Putin’s ploys “before it is too late.” The newspaper refers to the example of the far-right National Front to far-left elements in France to prove the growing pro-Moscow sentiment in Europe.
“Indeed, the Kremlin has assiduously cultivated party secretariats across Europe. A web of invisible links has brought into being what could be called “Putin’s Party” in Europe,” as noted by The Jerusalem Post.
The newspaper concludes that it’s not just “the usual European populist demagogues” such as Nigel Farage in the United Kingdom to Viktor Órban in Hungary, who would be the first ones to join the “Putin’s Party,” but also leaders who have a bigger influence in Europe such as Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who is now justifying Putin’s actions.
“Europe risks frittering away the very security on which its union and, yes, its prosperity, is built,” the author of the article said.