London, July 2017 - Placed in the middle between US-Russia stretched relations, the European Union traces a via media of tactic foreign policy. That doesn’t mean EU lifts tensions, but a more complex and articulate set of policies.
Ambiguity is characterising the ongoing transpacific relations which, on the one hand, dissimulate the strong ties revealed by the ‘Russia-US gate’ related to the alleged support on Trump’s elections, on the other implies tense relations hardened by sanctions on Moscow for the annexation of Crimea dating back to Obama’s administration.
Bilateral ambiguity: Lavrov recently has threatened to take retaliatory measures in response to the “outrageous” expulsion of 50 Russian diplomats and seizure of some of the Russian diplomatic premises in the US after Robert Hanssen’s case, an FBI veteran accused of spying for the Soviet Union and Russia since the cold war era.
Beyond smoke and mirrors of Trump-Putin relations, Mogherini is following a step by step bilateral path, maybe more tough, but more transparent: “It is clear we do not share the same positions on everything but… it is essential from our perspective to engage, cooperate wherever possible and today we identified ground for cooperation”, she said recently. If the Bloc is not going to release the sanctions, there’s still a light at the end of the tunnel.
But which are the actual US Russia relations? Or, even better, where these are? Something suggests they are on the very north and they are very cold: on the frontline we find Exxon and Tillerson, the former CEO and now US foreign minister leads the interests of the oil and gas giant in Russia: in 2017, Darren Woods replaced Rex Tillerson as Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of the corporation, but the current US chief of diplomacy shook hands with Putin many times and advocated for lifting sanctions against Russia to boost Exxon drilling in the Arctic. The operations are now hampered by the fine imposed by the US Treasury Dep, on the oil&gas giant right because ExxonMobil violated sanctions against Russia.
The Exxon Mobil waiver request for the Black Sea was reported by The Wall Street Journal. Asked about the waiver application, Alan Jeffers, an Exxon Mobil spokesman, said, “We don’t comment on ongoing issues.” A Treasury representative said the department would not comment on individual licenses or waiver requests.
The oil industry official said that the application had been made in 2015, with ExxonMobil arguing that it could lose its contractual exploration rights in the Black Sea if it did not begin drilling operations by the end of 2017. On the European side the Italian energy giant Eni is first in line ready to take the job. There’s much behind the curtains waiting to be discovered and the coherent via media along sanctions is not so straight and needs to slalom across the ices and heats of conflicting energy based international interests.
But sanctions are still in place: some former-Yugoslavian countries currently applying for EU membership, Montenegro and Albania as well as Ukraine and Georgia, backed the last 19 June Council Decision (CFSP) on sanctions to Russia to be extended until 23 June 2018. Serbia, historic ally to Russia, did not follow suit.