Tuesday, February 27

Borrell: “You have to conquer minds, the Russians and the Chinese are very good at that”

The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, has confirmed the ambassadors that the EU has all over the world. “You are my ears, my eyes, I would have to be the most and best informed person in the world, the task is not easy, but surely we can do much better”, he said in his speech, in which he outlined problems facing Europe . And all this while news of the latest Russian bombing of Ukraine arrived. “Such acts have no place in the 21st century. I condemn them in the strongest possible terms. We are with Ukraine. Additional EU military support is on the way,” Borrell tweeted.

Borrell asked the EU leaders at the end of last week in Prague for another 500 million for weapons – which he already announced on September 13 in Strasbourg and which would amount to 3,000 million channeled through the Peace Facility – and continues launching the military training mission for the Ukrainian army.

Meanwhile, he has told his ambassadors: “Communication is our battlefield. We don’t fight with guns, thank God. But we have to fight in communication. I spend a lot of time doing communication, speaking at the entrances of the meetings, at the exits. My blog, which is not my intellectual amusement, is my slogan, and it continues to surprise me that in some delegations it seems that they do not take our communication into consideration and do not tweet and retweet the messages that we are issuing from the center. You have to be a network that is repeating, transmitting, insisting… This is a battle that we are not winning because we are not fighting enough. It’s a fight. In addition to conquering spaces, you have to conquer minds. The Russians and the Chinese are very good at it. They have farms that are systematically repeated, touching everyone in the world over and over, over and over again. We do not have a Russia Today or a Sputnik. Not even a Radio Libertad”.

Borrell added: “I need them to be much more involved in this battle for narrative. It is not secondary. It’s not just about winning wars by sending tanks, missiles and troops. It is a great battle. Who will win the spirits and souls of the people? When we say that China is our systemic rival, it means that our systems are rivals, and the Chinese are trying to explain to the world that their system is much better because, well, you may not choose your government, but you will have food, health and social services. And many people in the world vote and choose their government, but their material conditions are not improving. And in the end people want to live a better life. And we have to explain what the links are between political freedom and a better life. And I struggle to explain that democracy, political freedom, is not something that can be exchanged for economic prosperity or social cohesion, that both things have to go hand in hand. Otherwise, our model will perish, it will not be able to survive in this world.”

“I believe that we Europeans are facing a situation in which we are suffering the consequences of a process that has been going on for years, in which we have decoupled the sources of our prosperity from the sources of our security”, said Borrell: “Our prosperity is relied on cheap energy from Russia. And access to the great Chinese market for exports and imports, for technology transfer, for investment and to have cheap goods. I believe that Chinese workers with their low wages have done much more to contain inflation than all the central banks put together. So our prosperity was based on the energy and market of China and Russia. People are not aware of that, but the fact that Russia and China are no longer what they were for our economic development will require a strong restructuring of our economy. Access to China is increasingly difficult. The adjustment will be hard and this will create political problems. On the other hand, we delegate our security to the US, and who knows what will happen in two years or even in November? What would have happened if, instead of Biden, there was Trump or someone like him in the White House, what would have been the US response to the war in Ukraine and what would have been our response in a different situation? We have to take on more responsibilities. This is a world that no longer exists. And the radical right is on the rise in our democracies. So we have a difficult cocktail between the internal and the external, and the old recipes no longer work. We have growing security challenges and our internal cohesion is threatened.”

And at a time when Russian and Ukrainian offensives are taking place on the battlefield, Borrell has acknowledged: “”We did not fully see how much Ukraine could resist. Well, initially we didn’t think the war was coming. I have to admit that here in Brussels, the Americans said: ‘They will attack, they will attack’. And we were quite reluctant to believe it. And I remember very well when Tony Blinken called me on the phone and said, well, it’s going to happen this weekend, and, indeed, two days later, at 5:00 in the morning, they start bombing kyiv. We did not believe that this would happen and we did not foresee that Ukraine was ready to resist as fiercely and successfully as it is doing, no doubt thanks to our military support. Without it, it would have been impossible. And we haven’t seen Putin’s ability to scale either. The level of mobilization and an open nuclear threat. Secondly, we also failed to see the deep competition between the United States and China, the escalation of tensions in Taiwan were not on the agenda that have brought the Taiwan Strait to the brink not of a war, but of many war games”.