Emboldened by Biden, Europeans harden the line on Russia

BRUSSELS — As the Kremlin threatens Ukraine and the health of the main Russian opposition leader deteriorates, some European countries want to follow the example of the Biden administration and take a tougher line on Moscow.

But the great powers of the European Union, France and Germany, want to establish their own more diplomatic relationship with Russia, independent of the United States.

The Czech Republic and Poland have expelled Russian diplomats in recent days, accusing the Kremlin of malicious activity in their countries. Some EU members like the three Baltic states want to send a clearer message to Russia warning of sanctions if the Kremlin uses the tens of thousands of troops it has deployed near Ukraine’s borders and in Crimea against its neighbor.

The UK, which recently left the EU, and some wealthy but smaller members of the EU, including Denmark and the Netherlands, have for several years adopted tougher lines against Moscow, but have not failed to influence the larger EU members.

Czech and Polish expulsions of diplomats last week followed new sanctions by the Biden administration against Russia for election interference, a cyberattack and other malicious activity. President Biden has set a clear tone for Russia since taking office, saying he sees Russian President Vladimir Putin as a killer.

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