The increasing dominance of China on the world stage and the positioning of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border are raising important geopolitical questions. These have laid bare the “well-known divisions” within Europe, as well as between the continent, the US and NATO, according to the BBC’s Europe Editor.
Ms Adler said fears of international trouble have brought “oft-bickering allies” together into a “determined ‘we’re all in this together, singing-from-the-same-hymn-sheet’ mode”.
But despite these attempts, significant divisions between some of the world’s most important countries and bodies remain clear.
Among these: “President Macron infamously dismissed Nato as ‘brain dead’ not that long ago.
“He’s been the loudest EU advocate of what he calls Europe’s ‘strategic autonomy’.
“Since President Donald Trump, EU-US relations have been tense over Nato defence funding and more.
“EU-UK relations have been strained since Brexit.
“And EU member states regularly quarrel amongst themselves over all sorts of things.”
Ms Adler said foreign policy was “very much” one of the subjects of regular quarrelling.
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Because of divisions within the bloc, the European Commission is now being forced to engage in “sustained internal diplomacy”, she heard from high-level EU diplomats.
This has been akin to the tactics deployed while Brexit negotiations were ongoing to dissuade other states from thinking twice about their membership.
Internal division has also altered the response from Brussels to western reports of around 100,000 Russian troops amassing near Ukraine’s border.
Ms Adler said: “It’s whispered in EU corridors, that one of the reasons a precise, written ‘menu’ of Russia sanctions for differing potential scenarios does not exist, is that Brussels hopes less detail means less fodder for member states to haggle over and complain about.”
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Private intelligence firm Dragonfly reported late last month that efforts to deter Moscow from invading Ukraine “appear to have failed”.
This, in large part, was down to threatened sanctions (which, according to the BBC, have been unclear from the EU) “have had little impact”, with Russia having “sanction-proofed its economy”.
Boris Johnson has also stressed the “shades of opinion” between western allies on what sanctions could be threatened, creating the impression of a disunited block.
Russia said in recent diplomatic talks it had “no plans” to invade Russia.
Despite this, Ms Adler heard it would be “helpful” if Germany were to have a clearer line on where it stood regarding the Kremlin.
She said: “A publicly united front to present to President Putin is clearly uppermost in EU minds.”
But for some countries, internal squabbles make such a front difficult to imagine.