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Biden’s rosy picture of lockstep with Europe does not fit reality

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President Biden departs to the United Kingdom. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

As President Biden departed Washington, he informed reporters he was going to use his first overseas trip to create”clear to Putin and to China that Europe and the United States are tight and the G7 is gonna move.”

Why it matters: The dilemma is his announcements about the allies’ shared objectives are not supported by the statements and actions of the allies themselves.

  • Biden’s optimistic words and their bottom-line deeds will collide during a G7 summit in the U.K., a NATO gathering in Brussels and a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.

Between the lines: Two powerful European countries — Germany and France — don’t appear to be on board when it comes to presenting a united front against China and Russia.

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to strengthen European financial connections with the Chinese. She has been the most prominent European voice advocating for an EU-China investment deal.
  • She’s also determined to complete and operationalize the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany.
  • The Germans have made clear to the Biden administration they won’t back down on this project, regardless of U.S. pleas or pressure.

Biden all but conceded defeat by waiving sanctions on the company overseeing construction — clearing the way for the pipeline’s completion.

  • Completing the project is a major win for Putin.
  • He now has a potent lever to increase his influence in Europe and over vulnerable states such as Poland and Ukraine.
  • Each scenario is another means of furthering his efforts to divide NATO.

French President Emmanuel Macron has also made public statements conflicting with Biden’s comments.

  • In February, Macron warned against the idea of the European Union joining the U.S. to confront China.
  • “A scenario to join all together against China, this is a scenario of the greatest possible conflictuality,” Macron said. “This one, for me, is counterproductive.”
  • Macron also has called for European”tactical liberty” — a term that implies a space between Europe and the U.S.

The base line: Biden’s meeting with NATO leaders in Brussels is equally crucial to his strategy to reestablishing the Atlantic alliance that former President Trump pilloried and has been accused of undermining.

  • A significant objective of the trip is boosting alliance unity on Russia.
  • The actions that European leaders have already taken, however, are now speaking more rapid than any joint statement they finally create in Brussels.

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