Joe Biden says ‘I’m not supposed to be answering questions’
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Former US President Donald Trump was deeply unpopular among European Union leaders. Back in 2016, German Chancellor Angela Merkel greeted Mr Trump’s victory with an extraordinary warning: that she would work with the US President on the condition that he respect democratic values. Things did not improve from there. The transatlantic relationship deteriorated significantly after Mr Trump’s arrival at the White House in 2017, with disagreements over international trade, defence and technology.
With Democrat Joe Biden in the Oval Office, many expected things to go back to how they were before the American firebrand burst onto the scene.
However, it is now clear, huge divergences remain.
Tensions between the two sides were already evident in January when the EU struck an investment pact with China, despite Mr Biden’s administration stressing the need for transatlantic cooperation to put pressure on Beijing.
Europe and the US are also stuck in the debate on Nord Stream 2.
The Nord Stream 2 project is an underwater twin pipeline that would transport natural gas from Russia directly to Germany. At a length of 1,230 kilometres (764 miles), it is to follow the route of the existing Nord Stream twin pipeline underneath the Baltic Sea.
Since it was first planned, Nord Stream 2 has drawn criticism from the US, where both the Democratic and Republican parties believe the project would increase Europe’s dependence on Russia for natural gas, thus emboldening its President Vladimir Putin.
Biden’s humiliating EU confession: ‘US had to embarrass Europe to stand up!’ (Image: GETTY)
During his time as Vice President, Mr Biden often criticised the EU and how Barack Obama’s administration often could not count on the bloc.
In 2014 a speech, he recalled how the US had to embarrass Europe into imposing economic hits on Russia over the crisis in the Ukraine.
At the gathering at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, Mr Biden said: “We’ve given Putin a simple choice: Respect Ukraine’s sovereignty or face increasing consequences.”
The consequences were the sanctions which the EU imposed on Russia, first targeting individual politicians and businessmen deemed responsible for the crisis in the Ukraine, then switching to the energy, defence, and economic sectors.
Mr Biden admitted: “It is true they [the EU] did not want to do that.
“It was America’s leadership and the President of the United States insisting, often [at] times almost having to embarrass Europe to stand up and take economic hits to impose costs.”
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US President Joe Biden (Image: GETTY)
The US has opposed the creation of Nord Stream 2 (Image: GETTY)
Mr Biden also wrote about how he couldn’t count on the EU during his time as Vice President in his memoir ‘Promise Me, Dad’.
In one extract, he referred to a call he had with Arseniy Yatsenyuk ‒ the former Prime Minister of Ukraine ‒ shortly after the Dignity Revolution in 2014.
His priority was to make sure Ukrainian sovereignty was preserved in the face of aggression from Russian President Vladimir Putin but Mr Biden feared he could not count on support in Brussels.
He wrote: “The European Union and NATO were likely to abandon Ukraine as a hopeless cause.
“The country would be pulled back into Russia’s toxic orbit.
“The revolution of Dignity would come to nothing.”
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Former US President Barack Obama (Image: GETTY)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (Image: GETTY)
Mr Biden didn’t give up, though, and the now US President did everything he could to make sure Dignity’s goals were secured ‒ calling it a “remarkable people’s protest”.
He explained: “Ukrainians seemed about to lose their fight for democracy and independence.
“Putin had used the instability of the unfolding revolution as an opportunity to seize, by military force, a part of Ukraine called Crimea.”
And in the face of this threat, he was integral in keeping Mr Yatsenyuk and new President Petro Poroshenko in coalition against Putin’s wishes.