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Russian invasion of Ukraine wakes up Europe

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Russian invasion of Ukraine wakes up Europe

Europe’s outspoken response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine presents a possibility that was hard to imagine a month ago: the European Union as a superpower that can change the global order, fostering liberal democratic values ​​around the world. can give.

Before the war, the European Union focused largely on economic development. It resisted calls, especially from the US, to increase its military spending and to become more self-reliant in defending Europe.

Vladimir Putin’s invasion prompted European countries to become more aggressive. They imposed tough sanctions, helped cripple Russia’s economy, and are working to cut off trade with Russia. They have sent arms and other aid to Ukraine. Many moved to increase military spending, and EU leaders have met in France over the past few days to coordinate their efforts. The leaders of France and Germany in a phone call yesterday pressured Putin to agree to a ceasefire.

Europe’s new commitments could help counter the global democratic backslide of the past 15 or so years. The failure of democracy to stand up for itself partly enabled that change. But a hardened Europe, as well as other countries’ sharp reactions to Russia’s invasion, show that democracies are still ready to take power to counter autocratic governments.

“The democratic nation and the people are sending a joint message to Putin that democracy matters, and authoritarians cannot act with impunity, and that is powerful,” said Freedom House Speaker Michael Abramowitz, which is a worldwide organization. Monitors the state of democracy in

The European Union is often fractal, made up of nations and ethnic groups that have been at war with each other for centuries and have different, sometimes competing interests and values. Britain’s vote in 2016 to leave the union shows just how far such divisions can go.

But the EU has moved in a more cohesive direction over time. Although it is not a stand-alone country, but in many ways it functions alike. What began as a loose organization of the Six Nations now comprises most of the continent’s population, with 27 countries as members. Most share a currency and open their borders to each other, and they all send representatives to the legislative, executive and judicial branches with powers in all aspects of European life.

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The European Union’s response to Russia’s invasion was a more unifying step – one that could push Europe from its passive role to an influential democratic force around the world.

Europe’s past inaction is rooted in World War II. After the atrocities of the war and the Holocaust, Germany leaned toward pacifism, refusing to build its own army or send its weapons to conflict zones. As the most populous and wealthiest member of the European Union, its approach had a major impact on the continent.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine suddenly forced the continent’s leaders to face the possibility that their stance was failing one of the fundamental goals of the European Union: to prevent war in Europe. Seems like a contradiction, the EU may need more military power to prevent further war.

“Peace was taken lightly,” Jan Puglierin, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told me. He said that it is not so now.

Germany moved within days of the invasion to spend more to rebuild its army. Others made similar commitments, including Austria, Denmark and Sweden last week. Experts said more EU and NATO members are likely to follow.

In the long run, a revitalized Europe could help renew a wounded global order led by a democratic West.

One way it could play is through Europe to defend itself more aggressively. This could help free up US resources now devoted to European security, which in turn would allow the US to launch a long-promised refocus on Asia to help counter China. (White House officials say the war has already persuaded some Asian governments to work more closely with the West to defend democracy, my colleagues Michael Crowley and Edward Wong pointed out.)

As the world’s second largest economy, Europe can also leverage its wealth to counter threats to democracy itself or abroad, along with sanctions, financial investments and trade policy.

The European Union has previously played a role in the expansion of a global democratic system. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the EU’s embrace of Eastern European countries empowered new democracies from Bulgaria to Lithuania. “It was one of the largest democracy-promoting projects in recent history,” historian Timothy Garten Ashe of the University of Oxford told me.

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The future is not as simple as a new Cold War between democracy and autocracy. India, the world’s most populous democracy, is friendly with Russia and has refused to condemn Putin’s war in Ukraine. America is dealing with its own liberal movement. Within Europe, in Poland and more seriously in Hungary, democratic institutions have deteriorated. “There are serious internal problems within Europe,” said Mujtaba Rahman, an analyst at Eurasia Group.

A major unanswered question remains: will Europe’s new assertiveness persist? Europeans are facing a refugee crisis and rising food and gas prices as a result of the war and sanctions imposed on Russia. It could spark a backlash against politicians who have aggressively backed Ukraine – and shortened the path Europe is currently on.

  • Ukrainian officials said Russian warplanes struck a base near the border with Poland, killing at least 35 people and bringing the war even closer to NATO’s doorstep.

  • The Russian army intensified the bombings aimed at destroying the cities and towns of Ukraine. Soldiers fought street-to-street battles in the Kyiv suburb.

  • Ukrainian officials said Russian forces detained the mayor of the captured city of Melitopol, prompting hundreds of outraged residents to protest.

  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of starting “a new phase of terror” by subverting the will of citizens.

  • The attacks in two cities crippled the relative sense of security in western Ukraine.


Sunday Question: Has the cultural backlash against Russia gone too far?

Isolating Russia by banning its athletes, throwing away its vodka and turning down its artists could help pit its people against Putin, The Atlantic. Yasmeen Serhani it is said. of slate dan koiso Disagree, arguing that stigmatizing innocent Russians hurts the cause of Ukraine. (Times Opinions Spencer Bocat-Lindel has more.)

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