Huffington Post Greece – July 07, 2018
There is certainly a state of anticipation from Western officials about the outcome of the Helsinki summit between the US and the Russian president in the middle of the month. Issues that are expected to be discussed at this meeting will directly affect the old continent and may lead to adverse repercussions on the European economy, security and stability. According to diplomatic leaks and debates in political corridors, the files on the two presidents’ table will be about the crises of Syria and Ukraine, but Iran’s dossier will also be a cause of tension between NATO and Moscow. Thus, in one way or another, these files have a direct impact on Europe, which therefore must be prepared for any decision or agreement to be reached at this meeting.
The Ukrainian crisis
Despite relative peace in the military operations on Ukrainian soil compared to 2016, things are directly related to the international atmosphere. Washington, from the first day of the crisis, appeared to be restrained, unlike Moscow, which hastened to impose its view, especially on the issue of the Crimea. Despite the referendum that has taken place and made possible the annexation of this sensitive and strategic region to Russian territory, the dossier at international level is still pending. It is important here to emphasize that Washington does not allow the Ukrainian army to be equipped from Europe except with the types of weapons it defines. Thus, the US at any time can lead things where they want and turn them against Russian plans. EU leaders recognize the need to resolve the crisis in a way that prevents Moscow from regaining control of Ukraine’s decisions and then admitting it to NATO. If this is not possible, the best option for them is to keep Ukraine’s file as a means of pressure to Moscow, especially if it tries to blackmail the old continent through Russian gas since it is expected that Trump will make concessions in this file according to Western leakage.
The impact of this dossier on Europe is divided into three points: first, the refugee / immigration crisis has created a nightmare for EU unity. Europe worries that Washington agrees to withdraw from the Syrian scene so Moscow’s military movements will increase mainly to the north and east. If this happens, a wave of refugees will hit Europe. For example, there are almost three and a half million Syrians in the Idlib province which is under the control of the Syrian military opposition. This means that starting Moscow’s military action to regain control could cause the displacement of millions of citizens. Turkey, which already houses three million Syrians, will not be able to control the borders, which will be a new blow to Europe. This fear may be one of the reasons for the recent meetings in Brussels, which led to a new immigration law in Europe that increases border control with the Middle East.
The second file is terrorism. It is well known that the ISIS terrorist organization is still present both in Iraq and Syria, but in a smaller geographic area. However, Europeans are well aware that Assad’s imposition on Syrian people will shed oil on fire. Hundreds of thousands of young Syrians who are wanted by the regime and are angry with their abandonment from the West can turn into bombs that will be easily used by extremist organizations.
The third file is the influence. All the leaks from the region confirm Washington’s intention to withdraw from eastern Syria and hence the European partners should also withdraw from there, which would mean the loss for France, Italy and Britain of their influence in the northern part of the Middle East, knowing that Turkey is also out of Europe’s influence.
It is clear that Trump and his neo-conservative aides place Tehran at the top of their targets. Terminating the nuclear agreement and imposing economic sanctions on Iran, as well as preventing all countries from buying Iranian oil is a major economic loss to the Union. Millions of dollars of projects signed with Tehran have become past, while oil prices go up daily and are expected to be triggered more. From this, the ally of Moscow, Tehran will be the world’s most benefited of these steps. Consequently, despite statements by Russian officials about the rejection of American movements, the reality is that Putin will not oppose any Trump plan against Iranian oil and gas.
The leadership of Europe is on the verge of a dangerous step. Patience to the actions of Trump against it and against its interests, in my opinion, will not last long. The low-voiced conversations between European officials behind closed doors are becoming increasingly public. “Europe is ready to come out of NATO and protect its own interests far from Washington.” Europe has three choices: First, to leave the US side and stand in favor of its interests. Secondly, to act secretly in co-operation with Democratic American officials to overthrow Trump exposing his contacts with Moscow before the elections. Third, to be patient until the next American elections, where Trump will surely be re-elected. Therefore, Europeans will be happy if the forthcoming meeting in Helsinki fails and the most dissatisfied with its success.