EU “kissing the backside of Russia” in desperate vaccine push

Leading Brexiteer and former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith has accused the European Union of “kissing the backside of Russia” as top Eurocrat and EU High Representative Josep Borrell praised the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine and pushed for the European Medicines Agency to approve it for use.

“I take the floor to just congratulate Russia for this success, it’s good news for the whole of mankind because it means we are going to have more tools to face the pandemic” said Mr Borrell, before cravenly adding: “It will be good news because as you know we are facing a shortage of vaccines and if there is another course of supply, that is welcome.”

Borrell’s comments came in a joint press conference with Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, and follow a series of diplomatic disputes between member states – including Sweden, Germany, and Poland – and the Russian Federation.

The disputes involved the expulsion of diplomats by Russia in the wake of protests about the treatment of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

The Telegraph quoted a top US source with links to the Biden administration: “The optics are not good to have the EU’s high representative in Moscow as Navalny is in a glass cage… It does look like the Russians played Borrell.”

Tory MP Bob Seely chimed in too: “It is bizarre, but it is also not right. Yes the EU has messed up its vaccine policy but to eject your value system straight out of the window so quickly? It’s pretty shocking.”

Borrell’s praise of the Sputnik vaccine will strike many as odd given the decision of some European politicians, including struggling French president Emmanuel Macron, to spread dangerous disinformation about the highly effective Oxford/AstraZeneca jab – closing ranks to protect the bungling EU.

The EU has embarrassed itself on the world stage in recent weeks as it lashed out at AstraZeneca and threatened to erect a customs border on the island of Ireland as vaccine woes came home to roost. The bloc is expecting only a small quantity of AstraZeneca jabs this quarter because sclerotic EU deal-making left European production three months behind the UK.

The Sputnik vaccine has only been granted emergency use authorisation in a small handful of countries, including Iran – where the jab is preferred to US and UK alternatives that have been banned because of a barmy decree from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, claiming “it’s not unlikely they would want to contaminate other nations.”