Russia has inflicted enormous damage on Ukraine and terrible cruelties on its people, and continues to do so. However, a war that was supposed to lead to the capture of kyiv in a matter of days now lasts nearly three months. There is no indication that Russia is winning or that it can win – and it is not only thanks to Ukrainian heroism, but also to the help provided by NATO.
The resurgence of the Atlantic alliance was another unpredictable consequence of this war, completely contrary to Putin’s supposed objectives.
For many in the West, especially at the heart of the European Union, NATO was just a Cold War relic. Like a Trabant or a jukebox, it looked like it belonged in a museum.
For most on this side of the Atlantic, international relations after 1991, when the Soviet Union went to its grave without regret, meant the European Union. It gradually expanded to reach 28 countries, absorbing many states from the former Soviet bloc. With Russia diminished, humiliated, introspective and descending into corruption as it built a post-Soviet existence, the EU felt entitled to its self-declared destiny to command the future of the continent.
Inevitably, in that exhilarating moment of triumph – a triumph brought about more by the economic and moral weakness of the Soviet Union and the firepower of America than by anything the EU could offer – it too began to to go past.
As treaty after treaty – Maastricht, Amsterdam, Lisbon – was concluded, and the ambition and central control of the EU increased, there was more frequent talk of a federation and the pitfalls that come with it. One was a European army, something useless if NATO served its purpose.
Nevertheless, France, Great Britain (under Tony Blair) and Germany agreed on the principle of a European Defense Force in Saint-Malo in 1998, albeit in a very different world.
The dream was aided by a strain of anti-Americanism in Europe that became particularly apparent during the second Gulf War.
France in particular, but also Germany, imagined that they wanted America detached from the defense of Europe, and that this would not affect their security. Such attitudes helped turn Britain against the EU and led it six years ago to vote to leave the bloc altogether. They also fostered a prideful mindset that, before 2014, had Brussels toying with Ukraine over the possibilities of EU membership.
When Russia made its first move into eastern Ukraine in the winter of 2014, the EU headed for the hills, too terrified to start a fight with a powerful neighbor over something so trivial. just a short guy who showed an interest in joining the club. Reality had intervened.
While it took a greater attack on Ukraine to expose the real weakness of Russia and its deceived leader, it also exposed the real weakness of the EU as a player in international relations on its own continent. – and the absolutely indispensable nature of NATO if Europe is not to repeat the bloody mistakes of the 20and century to 21st.
One of the reasons Putin gave for attacking Ukraine was that if it joined NATO, he would view it as a Western threat to Russia, despite NATO being a defensive, non-offensive, avowed and unequivocal alliance. .
Putin’s excuse may well be a lie: virtually every public statement he makes is. It is suspected that the real reason for the attack was to accomplish a conquest that would make him appear powerful and allow his blind people to feel better about the Russia he created, and throw their weight into the world, as bullies do it, expecting to bully others.
The West was caught off guard: although it had its own nuclear deterrent, it was deterred for a time by Putin’s deranged threats to deploy its own.
However, it is now clear that his attempt to stop NATO expansion is actually fueling it. Finland, whose 800-mile border adjoins Russia, resisted the lure of NATO for decades. Today, its President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin issued a joint statement that “NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security” and that “Finland should apply for membership in the NATO without delay”.