Not All Russia-Friendly Policies Are Nefarious
Bella gerant alii, tu felix Austria nube — “Let others wage war: thou, happy Austria, marry” — was the Habsburg Emperor’s Maximilian I’s axiom that he bequeathed to his successors. Republican Austria, for obvious reasons, has cast aside dynastic marriage as an instrument of foreign policy today. But it has largely remained true to its diplomatic inheritance. Its handling of Europe’s most recent international crisis is a case in point.
On March 22, European leaders, following a meeting of the European Council, issued a stern statement about Russia’s alleged poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury, England, earlier that month. “We stand in unqualified solidarity with the United Kingdom in the face of this grave challenge to our shared security,” they declared. Russian diplomats were then kicked out of more than 20 countries, including 18 member states of the European Union. Russia has expelled Western diplomats in a tit-for-tat measure.
But for the EU member state Austria, governed by a coalition that includes the far-right Freedom Party, solidarity with the United Kingdom quickly ran up against limits. Vienna has so far refused to expel any Russian representatives or take any other concrete actions against the Kremlin.
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