1. Will the UK be able to divide Europe into giving them a good trade deal?
I think we can answer that question with a thread about Russia.
2. This Russia vs United Europe thing goes back further than you may think. Russia used to play divide and rule in Europe all of the time. They were good at doing it, and the countries of Europe were good at letting them do it.
3. Those tensions were to get worse in the Cold War. In 1949 Winston Churchill declared the ultimate goal for a United Europe would be the liberation of the Eastern European states.
4. Needless to say, Russia was firmly opposed to the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC), and they were very vocal about it.
5. Meanwhile, the West took the position that we could not win an ideological war with weapons, and especially not nuclear ones. If we are to win, we must fight this by working together and proving our way of life is better.
6. Nikita Khrushchev’s attempts to divide France and Germany were becoming obvious by 1960.
7. West Germany, however, were starting to see the benefits of its trade links with France. For example, they were able to gain support in disputes with East Germany. The EEC were learning the benefits of working together.
8. In 1961, while Russia were spreading propaganda to stop the UK joining the EEC, news of the success of the EEC was already starting to spread and the future of its relationship with Russia was already under question.
9. The trade solidarity was also bringing political solidarity, and this could be seen during the Berlin Crisis of 1961. It was an event which would actually see a stand-off between US and Soviet tanks.
10. The “great attractions” the West had committed to show the world were having the desired effect. By 1962 Austria was still dedicated to an association with the EEC, despite Khrushchev’s objections.
11. The EEC were taking market share from the Soviet countries who were being forced to face up to the fact the West were not heading for failure, as they once thought they would be.
12. In fact, the success of the Common Market was crippling them.
Along with causing party splits in certain other countries…
13. By 1963 Russia had China to contend with on one side and the success of the EEC on the other. The plan of politicians, such as Harold Macmillan, to fight an ideological war without weapons but with success, was working.
14. The year 1970 saw Russia facing up to the possibility that their historic divide and rule strategy was coming to an end, and the EEC states would be negotiating with one voice on trade. In the face of this, Russia spread propaganda intended to prey on anti-German sentiment.
15. And by the mid-1970s the Soviet economic block, Comecon, took the approach to create closer links with the EEC. Finally accepting to work with the EEC as a single entity.
16. That didn’t mean Russia weren’t still trying to play divide and rule, both in terms of trade and politics. But in terms of trade they held firm. The EEC was able to uphold the US embargo on grain facing the Soviet Union after their 1979 invasion of Afghanistan.
17. Two years after Mikhail Gorbachev became General Secretary of the Communist Party he claimed that Comecon would eventually be ready to compete with the Common Market. As we know now, the Soviet Union would not last to see this.
18. At the time of the Berlin wall collapse, Margaret Thatcher proposed EEC associate status be given to the Central and Eastern European countries, and in doing so she instigated the British foreign policy that dated back to the time of Winston Churchill.
19. A policy that would become full membership and have cross-party consensus in the UK for 10 years. It was the strategy believed to guarantee the most stability in the region.
20. European integration was pushed from both sides. It was Mikhail Gorbachev who was calling for a speed up in the integration of Europe by 1989.
21. And finally by 1990, Gennadi Gerasimov, the official spokesman of the Foreign ministry is declaring that Russia wants to be part of the European economy. In 5 years, he says, it will be part of the European community.
22. The process was not perfect by any means, but as the European Union prepared to take in some of the ex-Soviet states, there was also talk of a close agreement with Russia.
23. Finally in 2002 Mikhail Gorbachev gave a speech calling for greater integration, and to call for Russia to have associate membership of the European Union.
24. The EEC/EU did everything they were expected to do in the Cold war. They were cohesive, successful, provided a home for some ex-Soviet states, and they avoided Russia dividing them.
It was supposed to be ‘Game Over’…but one person didn’t get that memo.
25. Nothing scared, or scares, Russia more than the idea of the European Union talking with one voice. Nevertheless, Vladimir Putin could see cracks in the cohesion, and still continued to play divide and rule politically.
26. An example of Russia’s fear of the EU, and their clear strategy to divide and rule, was on clear display when Ambassador Fedotov answered a question putting the death of Alexander Litvinenko into the context of the European Union during a Lords Select Committee meeting.
27. Russia’s strategy has changed since the Cold War. Choosing to attack European cohesion, while aiding those who would damage that same cohesion to serve their own political ends. ft.com/content/010eec…
28. And to establish connections with people who want to actively divide Europe. theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/j…
29. Regardless of the influence of these links, things like Brexit are certainly considered a success for Russia. Fireworks were seen above the Kremlin on the night of the 24th June 2016.
30. In the future a Russian dignitary will never have to “repeatedly” tell the United Kingdom that a death on their soil is not a matter for the European Union. edition.cnn.com/2017/03/24/eur…
31. It is, therefore, still possible to successfully divide and conquer “politically” in Europe, and there is no question that Russia are, and have always been, the masters of it.
32. However, on trade, that has been a different story, and this is where we came in.
It’s important to remember that some of the oldest arguments for a united Europe were that it would prevent countries playing divide and rule on matters of trade.