"We spent so much time, as you know – because I went to you for advice, we spent so much time on the phone making sure that everyone from, at the time, [François] Hollande to [Matteo] Renzi wouldn’t walk away. They wanted no part of the sanctions on Russia. We had impact on them. It was basically "you gotta do it." And thank God, [Angela] Merkel was strong enough at the time to…reluctantly (she didn’t like it either) stand with us," Biden said [54:50] addressing The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a United States nonprofit think tank which has been focusing on US foreign policy and international affairs since it was founded in 1921.
The revealing comment refers to the set of economic restrictions imposed by the US and the EU on Moscow in 2014, after Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine to reunite with Russia. Separately, the US published multiple lists of Russian officials hit by travel bans and asset freezes. The move not only drove a rift between Russia and the EU, but also prompted Moscow to retaliate with restrictions on food imports from the bloc.
According to the Austrian Institute of Economic Research the standoff has cost the EU over 30 billion euros and the loss of roughly 400,000 jobs.