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Analysis: Europe is torn over whether to take Putin's help on vaccines

April 3, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 26.6%. 2 min read.

Europe's lackluster vaccination program has presented one of the continent's greatest foes with a golden opportunity to score a serious diplomatic victory.

Item one on the agenda, according to the Kremlin, was a discussion on the prospect of "the registration of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine in the EU and possible deliveries and joint production of the vaccine in the EU countries. " The German readout of the call used more moderate language, including a more explicit caveat around how Sputnik could only be used if it meets European standards.

Diplomats from some ex-Soviet member states pointedly say that they have no intention of using any vaccine "other than those procured by the European Medicines Agency", speculated that ‚Äčthe Russian vaccine "could be a tool to divide the Union and its allies" and fear that Moscow could use it as a "vehicle" for other nefarious activity.

Indeed, some member states are already dealing directly with Moscow in the hope of getting hold of Sputnik shots, even though they have not been approved by the EMA and are not part of the bloc's centralized vaccine program, in which the European Commission has procured doses on behalf of countries.

Austria's seal of approval for the Sputnik vaccine is a particularly vicious gut punch for Brussels, after Chancellor Sebastian Kurz openly accused the European Commission of distributing the jabs unfairly among member states.

So while it's true that we are a long way from seeing Sputnik being produced in EU labs, the mere fact that some member states are worried, some are dismissing those fears and others are clamoring to get hold of Russia's vaccine, reveals just how easily Moscow can cause division, both inside and outside of the EU.

Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the UK's foreign affairs select committee, said: "Using vaccines to shove a deeper wedge between the UK and EU, and between those EU states that know Russia well -- like Lithuania -- and others that are more ready to turn a blind eye is designed to divide and provoke, and that only feeds Russia's interest. "

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