Austria's refusal to expel Russian diplomats was perceived in Europe and Britain as a real rebellion against the solidarity of the West. Austria is not the only EU country that retains sympathy for Moscow, and they have reasons to go against Brussels. However, the European officials are preparing new methods to combat "pro-Russian dissent".
Austria expressed a desire to become a mediator between Britain and Russia in the dialogue on the case of Skripal. This was stated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the country Karin Kneisl. She recalled that Austria "in the year 1995 joined the EU as a state with a neutral status", therefore it is a "contact person for all participants".
Kneisl stressed that Austria will not resort to the expulsion of Russian diplomats, "because in critical situations it is extremely necessary to preserve channels for dialogue." If Russia's guilt in poisoning Skripal and his daughter is proved, then "on the basis of the convention on the prohibition of chemical weapons, a mechanism for the adoption of multilateral actions can be developed," Knyazl said. In other words, Vienna actually indirectly stated that Austria believes that all accusations against Russia have not yet been proven.
For such a position, Vienna has been subjected to harsh pressure and criticism. As Knaisl noted, the British ambassador tried several times to change the position of Austria. In addition, various European politicians intensified attacks on Vienna in their speeches and posts in social networks. Thus, diplomats from Britain and other countries of the "united Europe" on the Web said that "Austria burns bridges" and "Austria's neutrality is incompatible with EU membership". Austria's position in the Skripal case is "absurd, in the final analysis it is about solidarity with the EU country, in which, apparently, an attempt was made by poisoning on the orders of Russia," Deutsche Welle quotes the words of a member of the German Christian Democratic Union (CDU) The European Parliament Elmar Broca. Another MEP from the CDU, David McAllister, pointed out that Austria, along with all the states of the European Union, should demonstrate full solidarity with the UK.
In addition to Austria, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Cyprus, Malta and Portugal did not take such anti-Russian measures, the NATO country Turkey also expressed a strong refusal to participate.
In sympathy for Russia in Europe, other countries were caught. British journalist John Lloyd on the pages of the Irish Examiner said that Italy will be "the most influential element in a group of pro-Russian European politicians, including Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, leader of the French National Front party Marin Le Pen and the leadership of the German "Alternatives for Germany".
The Briton indicated that, following the results of the last parliamentary elections, the overwhelming majority of votes received "populist-nationalist" parties that "openly adhere to pro-Russian views", in particular the Five Stars and the League of the North. In the event of unification, he will own three-quarters of the entire electorate, and the country will become "the largest Russophile democracy in Europe," the journalist warned.
Previously, a balanced policy towards Russia was led by Germany. Special warming was observed when the facts of the wiretapping by the US intelligence services of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone were revealed. However, despite the fact that in some issues, such as the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline, some contact between the interests of the Russian Federation and the Federal Republic of Germany remains, in general, Berlin takes an increasingly anti-Russian stance. So, on Thursday Merkel and British Prime Minister Teresa May in a telephone conversation agreed on the need to continue working together to "confront the intensified aggression from Russia."
Thus, the sympathizing with Russia camp in the European Union after the case of Skripal is waiting for change. Moscow sympathies are now expressed by "southerners" - Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Malta, as well as the Czech Republic with the "pro-Russian government" and Austria, which wants to become the new bridge between the EU and Russia, told the newspaper VZGLYAD German political scientist Alexander Rahr . "This is explained by the fact that in these countries there are no geopolitical ambitions towards Russia," he said.
However, some of these countries were forced to cede under the onslaught of Britain and the United States. As the Italian publicist, former member of the European Parliament Julietto Chiesa stressed in the commentary to the newspaper, at the moment, Austria and Italy are the most active countries in the Russophile camp.
Italy is a longtime supporter of Russia, and although she sent two Russian diplomats, that does not mean that she changed her position, Chiesa stressed. According to him, this was done under pressure from the United Kingdom and the United States, while Rome himself did not want to do this. "At the same time, we do not have a government yet, and no one knows when it will be formed," the source said, stressing that because of this the Italian policy is still in limbo. In this regard, Chiesa believes that at the moment it is Austria that is the leader of the pro-Russian camp in Europe.
Rahr also believes that the main Russophile in Europe in fact is now not Austria and not Italy, but Greece. According to the expert, the two countries of the "old West" of Europe and the US simply will not be allowed to conduct an independent pro-Russian agenda (as we saw in the Italian example), while Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at the congress in Brussels "openly criticized the British position, saying that she does not satisfy him. " "So far, Greece is the only country that can go against the anti-Russian policy. In addition, the country has great cultural and religious ties with Russia, "the source said.
Vienna, Rome and Athens do not go against Britain, because they feel the pressure of public opinion, and ordinary Europeans sympathize with Russia and its leader Vladimir Putin, Chiesa stressed. In addition, the ex-MEP noted that in Austria, Greece and Italy there is an understanding that cooperation with Russia is much more profitable than confrontation.
However, the European Union is actively fighting dissent. "Now the countries that express sympathy for Russia have no opportunities to increase their influence. The European bureaucracy will now change the rules of the game. In particular, he will try to press the norms, according to which the vote on foreign policy and security in the EU will be by a majority, not by consensus.
This innovation is necessary in order to win the majority, but for the time being the majority is against anti-Russian rhetoric, "Rar said.
The political scientist is sure that Moscow acted wisely, not reacting rigidly to the actions of the EU. "No power tricks are needed. Many already understand that the decision is taken from scratch - without facts, evidence. Against this background, the situation can calm down. And Russia can help the EU countries that sympathize with it, gently proving its rightness, "he explained.