Putin, Biden and Zelensky will go down in history!
Putin as the leader of the Russian forces attacking Ukraine with criminal brutality; Biden as an appeaser from a great power that couldn’t or wouldn’t make it clear to the Russians what the consequences of an attack on Ukraine might be; Zelensky as the President and leader of his brave people against a superior enemy whose main aim is to kill civilians. In just a few days all three have helped to shape a fundamental new understanding of security and defence in Europe that had not been achieved in the previous two decades.
The European Union (EU) has learnt the hard lesson that a policy of understanding based on mutual economic dependencies cannot create security against dictators, and that defence requires appropriate military resources. And after Afghanistan it has had to realise once again that America, as the leading Western power, puts its own security interests first. Biden has urged Europe to take its security into its own hands and become a solid military pillar of NATO.
There is no doubt that the EU and NATO, together with the USA, did the right thing after the outbreak of the war by not allowing themselves to be drawn directly into the conflict, however hard the Ukrainian President, with his convincing media appearances, urged them to do so.
In the meantime however, NATO and the EU have strengthened their common eastern flank militarily and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has encouraged Ukraine, on her trip to the war zone, by inviting the country to start negotiations to become a member of the Union.
In addition, something quite astonishing has happened in Berlin: Germany is abandoning its policy of peace through rapprochement and is seriously redesigning its inadequate defence capability at great expense. It will be an essential contribution to the defence of Europe.
Putin’s political intention of occupying Ukraine by means of a “Blitzkrieg” in order to pave the way for the territorial restoration of the Soviet Union as it was under Stalin has not worked out.
What exactly does Putin want? It is clear that he has seriously miscalculated, but does he still have an ace up his sleeve, or could he, in act of desperation, attempt to start a world war?
It is impossible to tell when there will be a ceasefire or whether Putin will escalate the war territorially or with more fearful weapons. But an end to hostilities must be achieved as quickly as possible, since, in addition to the fight for Ukraine’s survival, a domino effect is to be feared. On the international market for foodstuffs for instance, especially in Africa, where grain shortages due to a lack of deliveries from Ukraine could trigger refugee movements.
Also on the energy market, especially if Russia were to stop delivering gas or the EU imposed a gas embargo which could severely affect the manufacturing industry and thus call into question the EU financing of Ukraine’s reconstruction, especially by Germany which is the most dependent on gas.
Once the war is over, Europe will need more than ever to restore peace and continue to care for millions of war refugees within its borders.
In the fog of this unexpected war, the path to a future completely shaped by the fight against climate change which seemed to stretch out so clearly before us, has turned into a nightmare scenario because we know too little about what is to come.
We cannot assess the potential for greater violence, we can only guess at the dangers of escalation. We have doubts about our own ideas of order, but also about the resilience of our societies. While we can only guess at the kind of world that will emerge from this diabolical war, we must nevertheless prepare to build a new world order.