Lopes: Mali and Ukraine… the European Union is in a collision test with Putin’s Russia

The Europeans – as they finalize a common defense doctrine – are facing two simultaneous crises “with Putin’s Russia” in which different main interests are intertwined, one on their eastern borders in Ukraine and the other in Africa in Mali. Is it appropriate to deal with them in the same way?

Political analyst Pierre Husky says: his column In the French magazine L’Obs, the world can only deal with one crisis at a time, but the European Union this time has no choice, as it appeared at the meeting of its foreign and defense ministers a few days ago in France, where it was forced to consider these two “points.” The two hot ones” that concern him directly.

The writer believes that the main mistake is to apply the same analysis to both crises, focusing on the common point between them, which is Russia, because that was the trap of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, so that the conflict turns – whenever the Soviets are a party to it – into a conflict between East and West, and the vision of the local peculiarities.

Here, a senior US official was quoted – in the documentary series “Vietnam War” – as saying when asked about his main mistake: “We saw Vietnam as an issue from the Cold War, without trying to understand the reasons behind the conflict.”

A common factor between two crises

The writer advises the Europeans not to repeat the mistake of the Cold War, because dealing with “the logic of the Cold War” with Russia as the common factor between the two crises by mobilizing its forces around Ukraine and sending its military mercenaries from Wagner Company to Mali, will lead to a fatal mistake, especially since Russia in the first case uses great means To try to adjust the balance of power in its immediate environment against its historical rival, NATO, while in the second it acts as a “disruptor” at little cost and without significant risks in a remote region where it has no important strategic interest.

The writer considered that giving the Europeans time to reflect on the two crises together in this “huge” meeting that brought together the foreign and defense ministers, constitutes progress, because if it happened a few years ago, the countries of eastern and northern Europe would have focused only on the main “threat” at their doors, and left Africa to France .

Today – the writer says – the concept of threats and responses has developed, as the “strategic compass” that the countries of the Union are about to adopt in March produced a common vision, which makes each sub-regional group take into account the challenges faced by others, so that Estonia, for example, is concerned about Africa, and Portugal sees that what is happening in Ukraine, 4 thousand kilometers away, is also of interest to it.

Perhaps the mistake in looking at these two crises through the common perspective of Russian intervention – according to Hassky – is to obtain a wrong diagnosis, and thus to provide a wrong treatment, especially since the Ukrainian crisis is central to the world from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s perspective, because it is part of a strategy aimed at giving Russia’s central role in the sphere of influence includes a large part of the former Soviet Union, even if this was at the expense of the sovereignty of independent states 30 years ago.

Indeed, Russia has shown in Belarus and Kazakhstan – as the writer says – that it will not fail the threatening “friendly” regimes, and has shown its determination to calm the libertarian tendencies of those who did not have the same Ukrainian ambition, and it asks Westerners not to interfere, and directly asks them “Are you ready to die?” For Kiev?”, as if to say, “If the answer is: No.. back off,” but is she serious about it or not? NATO countries do not have an answer, and therefore they have to make their decisions based on this uncertainty.

Getting out of the financial crisis

As for Mali, the matter is completely different, as the writer sees it, because Russia is a new player that plays the role of the “disruptor” in a region in a state of relative turmoil, and therefore focusing on Russia alone will make Europeans forget the deep roots of the Mali crisis, which is based mainly on the failure of governance and political failure in the war On terrorism, in addition to colonialism and other unresolved issues.

There is no doubt that the presence of the Wagner Group – according to Husky – exacerbated these tensions, by providing an alternative to the ruling military council there, and thus made it more difficult for France and the Europeans, who were increasingly committed at the request of Paris.

France made a lot of mistakes in Mali, as the writer says, and after the population welcomed it as a liberator from “jihadists” in 2013, it is now seen as a force that imposes itself and wants to dictate its law, but rather as a partner for terrorists to justify its existence, and it is – in the eyes of Malians – That dictated the extremely harsh sanctions imposed by the countries of the region on January 9 and are about to harm the population more than the junta.

The writer concluded that France, which made relations with Africa one of the priorities of its presidency of the Council of the European Union, must come out of the financial crisis wisely during the European-African Summit scheduled for the first half of 2022, otherwise it will pay a heavy price in Africa and Europe, especially since this moment is foundational For the European Union, which must simultaneously deal with two major crises, and at the same time produce a doctrine for the coming years, for its “weak” credibility.

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