The time has now really come for Europe to take action against Russian President Vladimir Putin, says Dutch former Secretary General of NATO Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. “The credibility of the Union is at stake here,” he said in an interview with News hour.
“We are not used to leading like Europe, but Putin really needs to be made clear now that he cannot do things like this with impunity.”
De Hoop Scheffer is referring to it poison of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Moscow denies involvement, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel, among others, sees a link.
“He had to be silenced,” Merkel said. She and French President Emmanuel Macron have asked Putin for an explanation.
But in addition to strong words, there will also be sanctions against Russia, such as the stopping the Nord Stream 2 project, the gas pipeline between Russia and Germany? That is complicated.
“The EU has a problem,” says De Hoop Scheffer. “In such a crisis, it was always the Americans who acted. The Americans brought world leaders together and looked at what sanctions we were going to impose. We have become addicted to American leadership. Putin. “
De Hoop Scheffer believes that the EU should fill the vacuum on the world stage that the United States has left behind. “In principle Angela Merkel could do that. But she is, and we are, with a divided Europe. In Italy or Hungary you hear something very different about Russia than in Poland or the Baltic states.”
‘Putin called the end of the Soviet Union a disaster’
If Europe wants to get something done, Merkel Macron has to get along. He recently showed that he wanted closer relations with Russia, but “he doesn’t say that after Navalny and Belarus,” said De Hoop Scheffer.
In Belarus, also known as Belarus by the population, protesters have been demonstrating against President Aleksandr Lukashenko for weeks. The opposition, as well as the European Union and the United States, are convinced that he won the recent elections only through fraud.
Putin, on the other hand, immediately recognized the election results. Later he helped Lukashenko by saying one police force to have to intervene in Belarus if necessary.
At a encounter between the two presidents, Putin said today that he supports Lukashenko and that the current crisis must be resolved without interference from abroad. De Hoop Scheffer: “You saw Lukashenko there as the little nephew with a notebook sitting next to Uncle Vladimir, obediently writing down what he said.”
‘Putin cannot afford a freer Belarus’
De Hoop Scheffer met Putin regularly as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Secretary General of NATO. “In our conversations he called the demise of the Soviet Union the greatest geopolitical disaster of the twentieth century. And that for a leader of a country that lost many millions of civilians and soldiers in World War II. It’s in his DNA.”
The desire for a strong Russia is reflected in Putin’s decisions, according to De Hoop Scheffer. Putin wants to keep Belarus within the Russian sphere of influence. “His importance is everywhere to prevent change of authority. You can see that Syria, you saw it in Georgia, in Ukraine. It may well be that Lukashenko will be dismissed, but Putin will decide who will be seated. “
De Hoop Scheffer sees a clear connection with the poisoning of Navalny. “Putin cannot afford a freer Belarus, nor can he afford Navalny. Navalny is doing what might in Russia lead to what is now threatening to happen in Belarus. Namely that people want more freedom.”