Europe has bounced back in dramatic ways in the five months since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched it Invasion of Ukraine.
The coming weeks will show whether the work to build a European Union more resolute in the face of new future security challenges continues. Or alternatively, the rewind will short-circuit before the work is done in the face of growing economic difficulties and Putin’s increasingly bitter war of attrition.
So far, the EU has remained united with the US and other countries behind a unprecedented set of sanctions on Russia. Furthermore, it has begun to increase its hard power through increase defense spending, and it moved quickly to reduce its embarrassing energy dependence on Moscow. Most recently, the Group of Seven seems poised to announce a ban on the import of gold from Russia.
In ways Putin never envisioned at the start of his war, the EU is committed to Ukraine as a democratic, independent and European nation through economic support billions of euros, Unprecedented weapon deliveryand now a member nominations to Ukraine and Moldova.
As impressive as the EU rewind project is so far, however, it is likely to short-circuit in the coming months unless political confidence even increases in this historic moment. That will require faster implementation of new energy and defense policies — and more support for Ukraine.
As Putin gains ground in Ukraine, with fresh attacks on Kyiv today almost certainly coinciding with the G-7 meeting in Germany, it will make it possible for European leaders to muster all political will. They will face greater public pressure to end the war with benchmark gas prices rising by 15% last week amid double shock about the Russian cuts and the fire at Freeport LNG in Texas, with inflation reaching 8.1% in the euro area in May, and with the risk of a recession rapidly increasing, in the face of the threat of Russian gas cuts this winter.
On another front, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde summoned her colleagues to an emergency session last week in Frankfurt, designed to create unity around steps to tackle any risk of a new eurozone debt crisis coming to Italy due to the double shock of rising inflation and growth slowed down.
Putin is relying on the usual fatigue and political divisions that ensue between Western democracies as they must weigh growing domestic interest against international threats. He was seen enough to encourage him, including the newly re-elected Emmanuel Macron did not win a majority in the National AssemblyFor the first time in 30 years the French president was rejected.
And for all the impressive arms shipments and economic assistance the Biden administration has delivered to Ukraine, the weapons’ range of about 50 miles is still not enough to stop Russia’s carpet-bombing, fearing extended war.
Additionally, Putin knows the US midterm elections are likely to weaken Biden further amid domestic disputes over the Supreme Court. overturned by Roe v. Wade defends abortion and disputes gun laws. Even like Putin’s war more uglyAmericans see it less and less on their TV screens.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also looks weaker than in his first days in power, as he did this weekend. welcoming G-7 leaders in the Bavarian Alps.
Scholz facing such a storm of criticism that he was dragging his feet in delivering heavy weapons to Ukraine that his Ministry of Defense was forced to publish full list Among the completed and planned deliveries were seven Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled howitzers that eventually arrived in Ukraine.
It should be remembered that Europe’s greatest moments of progress often come at a time of crisis, as was the case again after Putin’s war in Ukraine. These are times when member states are better at managing their divisions and working more efficiently around the EU’s overarching bureaucracy.
The problem is that the current division of Europe seems to be the hardest to fix was a fundamental disagreement about the importance of a victory over Ukraine and what it will bring to it.
The closer you live to Russia as a citizen of the European Union, the more you argue, like I did in this space on June 5, that Putin did not need the diplomatic path Macron was offering but instead a dead end that could only be brought about by tougher sanctions and a more effective counterattack by Ukraine is backed by longer-range weapons.
Russia’s nearest neighbors all know that a wretched peace where Ukraine gives up new territory can only provide respite before Putin resumes his imperialist efforts to take over all of Ukraine and eventually other parts of the Union. Old bucket.
In Western Europe, the greater desire for a peace could end the war now, even if the outcome puts Putin in power and, as Macron saidavoid humiliating him.
“Despite the celebratory rhetoric in Brussels about the European Union’s surprisingly strong response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” write Eoin Dream This week in Foreign Policy, “the war has not united the bloc in any unprecedented or transformative way. In fact, it is having the opposite effect. dividing, shifting allegiance. and a much more complex reality.”
To counter that gloom, Macron of France, Scholz of Germany, President of Italy Mario Draghi and President of Romania Klaus Iohannis visited Kyiv on June 16. Immediately after their return, the European Parliament voted with 529 votes to 45 against and 14 abstentions to pass Resolution called on the Head of State or Government to grant EU candidate status to the Ukrainian Republic of Moldova, which they did.
That symbolism must now be supplemented with even greater substance. The return of the EU is just beginning to strengthen its defenses, diversify energy sources, tighten transatlantic links and ensure Ukraine’s survival as a nation. sovereign free Europe.
To stay on track, European leaders and citizens must understand what they are doing not only for Ukraine but for themselves. The lesson from the devastating World Wars and Cold War is that maintaining unity is a prerequisite for victory, and pacifying the disappointed is always self-defeating.
– Frederick Kempe is the President and CEO of the Atlantic Council.