The EU summit held on March 25-26, although planned and regular, aroused heightened interest for a variety of reasons. One particular outstanding thing was "leaked" information that the summit would consider a new strategy for EU relations with Russia.
The issue of EU's strategy was artificially raised through the lens of either relations with Russia or relations with the United States. An incompetent person might get an impression that Russia and the United States are actively competing in the European field, with the EU needing to decide whom to regard with favor and whom to conflict with.
In fact, Russia and the United States are traditional partners of the European Union, each having its own niche. To a noticeable extent, the trade-off tone was set by the American authorities – both Joe Biden's administration and the US Congress.
Since the Democratic Party took hold in 2021, the American authorities have been advancing the idea of the United States' return to Europe. At the same time, America appointed its opponents as represented by Russia, China, Iran, and the DPRK, demanding that its European allies do the same. As a matter of practice, March saw the US authorities adopt several sanctions packages against Russia.
The current EU leadership in the person of European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen, and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrel, readily took up the American call to decide on Russia and China. They began to frequently and profusely engage anti-Russian rhetoric in their public statements, which culminated in Michel's invitation to American President Joe Biden to take part in the March EU summit. The invitation was issued on its very eve, apparently so as to evade bewilderment or dissent with the member states.
The EU leadership showed keen interest in US involvement in the affairs of the European Union. Its current leaders have yet to prove their management expertise. They were passive in adopting and coordinating anti-pandemic measures. They failed the vaccination campaign of the EU member states, blocking immunization at national levels and imposing it throughout the Union. Dissatisfaction with the EU leadership may be characterized by the fact that even EU outsiders, who usually settle with the role of extras, have begun to address them with claims.
The situation being what it is, American President Biden's participation in the March summit was obviously deemed by the EU leadership as an effective tool to rally up the member states by means of anti-Russian sentiment and to divert attention from their failed governance. It seems that without American involvement in EU affairs, the March summit could have turned into a broad and sharp criticism of the current EU leaders.
In this context, action by the EU leadership and the US administration ahead of the March EU summit and on its sidelines appear synchronized and coordinated.
Have they achieved their goal? Formally, both the Americans and their lobbyists in the EU seem to prevail over European politicians who look after the interests of Europe, while the so-called Euro-Atlantic values are forced onto the back burner. In fact, an erosion process is being observed and accelerated as regards Euro-Atlantic unity. America tends to invocate leverage of intimidating and coercing its allies, while European politicians are losing confidence in the United States and getting increasingly concerned about ensuring their freedom of maneuver in case of American sanctions.
Getting back to the American idea of having returned to Europe, it sounds ambiguously to the Europeans. Among other things, the idea also means boosted sanctions pressure on the EU. A particular meaning is US sanctions' being primarily aimed against Germany as the leading country. They are hence instructive for other less important European countries and should serve as an indication for them that there are no taboos in American politics, providing for a tough conversation with the dissenters.
In a word, things turn out quite American-style: straightforward and aggressive. The US administration could explain the appeal to such a formula in relation to its Russia and China policy, demonstrating its "principled attitude" here. But what's the difference between the US "principled attitude" towards its opponents and the US "principled attitude" to its allies? If we subject both to a blind study, depersonalizing them and inviting experts to name whom the American principled attitudes are targeted against, there is doubt that even knowledgeable experts will be able to perfectly distinguish one "principled attitude" from the other. However, you can explain this as follows. The United States considers itself the heir of the Roman Empire, whose politicians exploited the "beat-the-dog-before-the-lion" thesis. In general, the Biden administration seems to be simplifying or even vulgarizing its policy and seeks to use the same pressure and coercion against both its allies and opponents.
It's becoming apparent that the current American politicians fail, as their behavior shows, to act as either friends or opponents. They mostly manage to entertain their ambition and brawl with both allies and opponents. In both cases, this is perceived as inability to keep with the world realities.
It's safe to say that tactics and strategy, if there are any behind the sporadic US foreign policy bursts, are fraught with an erosion of Euro-Atlantic solidarity.