WHAT KREMLIN PROPAGANDISTS SAY:
Russian propagandists have sought to promote the disinformation narrative that ‘the EU is controlled by the US.’ They claim that EU policy is decided by the US, and European countries no longer prioritise their own citizens when making policy decisions.
After the EU and NATO signed a joint declaration pledging to deepen their cooperation in response to Russia's war in Ukraine, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the move "confirms the complete subordination of the European Union to the tasks of the North Atlantic bloc, which is an instrument to guarantee U.S. interests by force".
This disinformation narrative is most often deployed in relation to policy decisions which Russia disagrees with, for example, the EU-wide sanctions packages which were imposed against Russia in response to the war in Ukraine. For example, Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov accused the West of "economic banditry." 
Pro-Kremlin outlets portray the EU-wide sanctions against Russia as the result of European countries acting under pressure from the ‘anti-Russia policy direction’ of the US.
Russia has claimed that these sanctions, especially those in the energy sector, will hurt European countries more than Russia, and sought to turn citizens against their leaders by arguing that the EU will “freeze” without Russian gas. State owned media have sought to disavow the Western unity which has characterised the international response to the war, by labelling European countries as ‘vassals of the US’.
This narrative is related to other similar narratives, including the ‘war in Ukraine is a proxy war between Russia and the US.’
WHAT ARE THE FACTS:
The EU is not controlled by the US. The EU is a voluntary initiative of European countries, which directly represents European citizens through the European Parliament and member states through the European Council and Council of the EU. The US had no role in the conception of the EU. The EU is sovereign and sets its own foreign policy, taking direction from its members. The US is not a member of the EU and has no representation in EU policy discussions.
The sanctions imposed against Russia were agreed upon unanimously by Member States. The EU worked closely with like-minded countries, including the US, in order to coordinate a response to the war in Ukraine.  Pro-Kremlin media outlets have sought to portray this collaboration as evidence of undue influence. In reality, the EU is a sovereign entity and no external country takes decisions on its behalf. Any decisions relating to sanctions or foreign and security policy must be supported on a unanimous basis - giving all member countries an equal say in the decision.
Europe’s decision to cut purchases of Russian gas is in line with EU policy and was not forced by the US. European leaders voiced their concerns about Nord Stream 2 way before the war in Ukraine had started. After Russia invaded Ukraine, gas supplies were again used as a form of blackmail and proved once more that Russia is not a reliable supplier. Moreover, cutting purchases of Russian gas was a significant part of the sanctions responding to the war in Ukraine. Lastly, sanctions aside, Europe is determined to switch to green energy and not buying gas is one of the major ways to not only ensure energy security in a geopolitical, but also in ecological sense. Even though Europe faced a tough winter and will definitely have to figure out ways on how to best substitute Russian gas, these changes will benefit the EU and its citizens in the long term .
The Kremlin’s portrayal of European nations as ‘vassals of the US’ calls back to the days of the Cold War. It is an attempt to dismiss the strength of the international condemnation of Russia’s actions. Russia seeks to portray these decisions as ‘damaging and nonsensical’ - arguing that European leaders could only have been following orders. In reality, the EU and the US are close allies who share common values including democracy, peace, freedom, and the rule of law as well as supporting and protecting human rights around the world. The EU and the US work together to promote these values across the world. Not to mention bilateral agreements in areas such as trade, which benefit both parties greatly, as the EU and the US are each other’s largest overall trade and investment partners.
Whilst the Kremlin may wish to portray recent European policy decisions as part of a ‘US influence campaign,’ the reality is that the EU and the US are united in their response to condemn Russia’s war of aggression.
Debunker is a series of disinformation-busting articles from Debunk.org which focus on dispelling the harmful lies and propaganda being pushed by pro-Kremlin sources. Check out the rest of the series at debunk.org/debunker.