A frayed EU flag flutters atop the Greek Ministry of Finance in central Athens, Greece, February 24, 2015. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
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While U.S.-led NATO has long shouldered the military burden in Europe, the economically powerful EU has been able to boast of a "soft power" with diplomatic successes ranging from its role in brokering the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, winning a detente with Cuba and inspiring a pro-EU uprising in Ukraine.But some ministers and diplomats point to the EU's lack of sway to end the conflict in Ukraine or to help solve the crisis in Syria as evidence it is now floundering, to the detriment of those caught up in those conflicts and to the benefit of Russia.France's outgoing Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who has tried in vain to implement a peace deal with Moscow in Ukraine, was downbeat a few weeks later in Malta as ministers met to discuss Turkey's growing authoritarianism.Some say the European Union as a bloc is not forceful enough to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 10,000 people since April 2014, after EU governments agreed to let France and Germany lead peace talks.Neither the British defense minister nor foreign minister attended the European Union ministerial gathering in Malta.
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