Germany urges EU to engage with Russia on climate change

Germany called for greater cooperation with Russia on climate change in a controversial new effort to restore frayed european ties with Moscow.

The European bloc is expected to develop a “concrete and detailed strategy” on global warming as part of a wider attempt to “selectively engage” the Kremlin, according to a document drafted by Berlin ahead of EU leaders’ talks on Russia this month. this month.

The German proposal highlights the growing internal divisions within the EU over how to deal with Russia. The detention of poisoned opposition activist Alexei Navalny has strained a shackled relationship since Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014 and the European bloc retaliated with economic sanctions.

While some EU capitals, including Paris, have preferred to engage with Moscow, a growing group of member states, including the Baltic States and Poland, see it as unrealistic and reckless in the face of the Kremlin’s behavior.

“While a fundamental change in Russia’s foreign policy seems unrealistic in the short term, managing our difficult relationship with Russia must remain a key priority of the European Union’s foreign policy,” says the new German document , which was read by the Financial Times. “At the same time, the EU must vigorously seize the opportunities to push Russia to take more responsibility for global goods such as security, conflict resolution, climate, environment, health, trade or the migration.”

The German proposal is an unsigned and undated “non-paper” that EU countries use to disseminate ideas without having to take formal responsibility for it. A German official said the government had not commented on the alleged leaks on principle.

The document accuses Russia of violations of international law, repressive measures against civil society and campaigns to influence neighboring states and use propaganda and cyber attacks to “divide Europeans”.

But he also notes that Russia has an “indispensable”, albeit “often difficult” role in various global policy areas, meaning that the EU had a “vital interest” in stable and predictable relations. It is possible to engage with Moscow on conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, global environmental and health issues and economic themes such as digitization, hydrogen and the Eurasian Economic Union alliance. led by Russia, the document said.

The EU should seek, in particular, to “develop a structured, concrete and detailed strategy on how to engage Russia in multilateral efforts to tackle climate change”, according to the first of three proposed immediate action points. by the document. The other two are to launch high-level EU-US consultations on Russia and to create a Russian civil society fund to finance projects involving non-governmental groups in the country, the EU and the six countries of the “Eastern Partnership” of the European bloc. initiative – Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Moldova.

“Although it has not been a political priority for Russia so far, the environmental disasters and the effects of climate change felt on its territory are becoming more and more relevant to the Russian population and therefore to the government,” said the Minister. document, adding that the European bloc should move closer to Moscow “at once. of our choice ”.

Hopes for increased cooperation contrast with the EU’s imposition of new sanctions on Russia last week on the Navalny affair and the official crackdown on street protests against his treatment. The Kremlin also sparked an uproar in Brussels and some European capitals last month over its expulsion of three European diplomats and its aggressive posture during a trip to moscow by Josep Borrell, Head of EU Foreign Policy.

Berlin critics say its policy towards Moscow is compromised by its participation in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project from Russia to Germany.

German document echoes controversy 2019 proposal by Markus Ederer, EU Ambassador in Moscow, for “enhanced coordination” with Russia in areas ranging from 5G mobile communications to personal data protection to combat China’s growing influence in Eurasia.

Additional reporting by Henry Foy in Moscow

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