Europe and the threat of Vladimir Putin's victory in Ukraine

Europe and the threat of Vladimir Putin's victory in Ukraine

In the Baltic republics, Russia's breath is felt very close. Estonia's Foreign Minister, Margus Tsahkna, warned a few days ago, during an official visit to Poland, that “the Russian war machine has been unleashed on a massive scale, both in terms of production and mental capabilities.” And that “three or four years from now” they could be preparing to challenge NATO.

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The weakening of the Ukrainian war front, with Vladimir Putin removing the most powerful symbol of Russian opposition and poised to emerge endorsed at the ballot box, is refueling Russia's image as an existential threat to the European Union. Although Russian risk perception among the 27 countries remains a persistent fault line since the start of the invasion of Ukraine two years ago.

Despite Putin's continued anger at reactionism, Europe has begun to imagine scenarios of a possible Kremlin victory in Ukraine or the unpredictability of a Kremlin victory in Ukraine.

The past two years have transformed the heart of the Union, from its concept of strategic security to the return of enlargement possibilities to avoid what European analyst Luc van Midelaar calls it. Gray areas From the community neighborhood. In official EU documents, enlargement today is primarily an instrument of security and not of democracy, as was emphasized more than a decade ago.

What does victory mean?

The longer the war lasts, the more the scenario the European Union imagines for ending the conflict will change. Since the beginning of the invasion, the 27 countries have been unable to agree on what a Ukraine victory on the ground would entail.

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In June 2022, research by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) already noted that “although Europeans feel great solidarity with Ukraine and support sanctions against Russia, they are divided on the time limit on long-term goals.” The study divided Europeans and their governments between those who gave priority to the field Pawthis means that the war ends as soon as possible, and those who are in the camp justiceWho believed that sacrificing Ukraine's territorial and political integrity would entail an unjust and therefore unacceptable peace.

The rift within Europe widens every time someone tries to put forward the idea of ​​negotiations to stop the conflict. But after the stagnation of the military front and the failure of the much-announced counterattack, voices calling for a diplomatic means to stop the war resurfaced. French President Emmanuel Macron spoke in December of providing “necessary support” to Ukraine so it could negotiate on better terms.

As for Putin, he was more clear: for him, negotiation means surrender. The Russian president warned the Europeans: “If you really want to stop the fighting, you must stop supplying weapons. [La guerra] “It will be over in a few weeks and then we can agree on some terms,” he said in an interview with reporter Tucker Carlson.

The global credibility of the European Union and the United States is at stake not only on the Ukrainian military front, but also regarding their ability to play an effective role in efforts to end the conflict. That is why the next few months are so important, despite the electoral impasse on both sides of the Atlantic.

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How far will solidarity go?

At the Munich Security Conference, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen rebuked her European counterparts, saying that Denmark had given Ukraine its entire artillery stock, but had not seen the same degree of commitment from many other European capitals. The Ukrainian army has already begun rationing its remaining ammunition.

On NATO's part, they recognize that there are stark differences between what was promised and what has been delivered or may be achieved in the coming months. The European External Action Service itself faces problems in determining the true extent of EU countries' contributions to the so-called European Peace Instrument, which financed the joint purchase of weapons. What's more, this EU fund has exhausted its available resources, and Germany is leading the group of countries calling for a rethink of its operations before investing more money in it.

On the other hand, France took the bilateral route, and on February 16, Emmanuel Macron and Volodymyr Zelensky signed at the Elysee a promise to provide aid worth 3 billion euros during 2024, without specifying how it would be distributed.

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