A ‘Puppet in Putin’s Hands,’ Snowden Paved Way to Ukraine Crisis (Rzeczpospolita, Poland)
Did Russian President Vladmimir Putin use Edward Snowden to create suspicion between Washington and the E.U. in order to scuttle a free trade deal between the United States and Europe? For Poland’s Rzeczpospolita, lawmaker Pawel Zalewski outlines not only how Vladimir Putin can be defeated by approving the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, but his conviction that Snowden has been part of Putin’s elaborate plan.
For Rzeczpospolita, European MP Pawel Zalewski writes in small part:
The era of post Cold War peace is over. Russian aggression in Crimea means something more than annexation of the peninsula. Vladimir Putin’s goals go much further than subjugating Ukraine. After gaining the upper hand over the European Union, Putin wants to chip away at it and force solutions beneficial to himself, using blackmail or buying off individual member countries. Are we, the Western Community, defenseless against the determined policies of the aggressor? In no way!
The character of international relations in Europe is changing before our eyes. Rather than a free partnership, the situation has become confrontational. For the time being, the Kremlin is on the offensive. Wednesday’s E.U.-U.S. summit is historic because as a consequence, responses will be sought to the Kremlin’s aggressive policies. In the long run, the key to resisting Putin’s policies is to boost transatlantic integration. In the short run, the central issue is safeguarding European energy security. These issues are addressed by the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which has been under negotiation for the past year. When signed, it will not only create a duty-free zone, but first and foremost, it will harmonize standards on the quality and safety of products, services, etc. This will lead to the creation of a common market area encompassing 50 percent of the world’s GDP.
The process of building a common transatlantic market will last years. We need quicker solutions, which is why the inclusion of energy cooperation into the TTIP is so important. It is essential that America’s international trade regulator agrees to the export of shale gas to the European Union. This of course will require the construction of the appropriate infrastructure at U.S. ports, but in the event that negotiations are successful, this will be feasible in a few years. I raised this issue a year ago, during a visit to Washington by the European Parliament Committee on International Trade. Our counterparts in the U.S. Congress and administration were very open to the idea. Now everything depends on the leadership on both sides of the Atlantic.
The opening of shale gas exports from the U.S. to Europe, and Europe’s emancipation from GAZPROM, is Putin’s biggest nightmare. By establishing the context for negotiations, this understanding is important because the agreement has serious opponents. … It will therefore be necessary to find solutions within the agreement to guarantee the safety of our personal data. For me it is important that the Snowden scandal act as an incentive to finding a solution, rather than as a pretext for killing the agreement.
Today, from the perspective of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the purpose of the Snowden affair is clear. By revealing information that triggered European concern, Snowden was really a puppet in Putin’s hands. Through his revelations he was to stir protests in Europe against TTIP. In this way, the Kremlin wished to prevent the creation of a mechanism that would thwart its expansion.
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