Europe United

This quick take is part of our Crisis Crossroads series, which highlights timely analysis by CSIS scholars on the evolving situation in Ukraine and its security, economic, energy, and humanitarian effects.

President Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine has united Europe like never before. The assumption Europe would wilt at the return of war to its borders can be added to his long list of miscalculations.

Chief among those defying Putin’s expectations—and everyone else’s—is Germany, which overturned generational taboos by hiking defense spending (by €100 billion) and providing weapons to Ukraine. Chancellor Olaf Scholz also halted the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and promised to wean Germany off Russian gas. Other acts of European defiance came from Sweden (breaking tradition to send military aid to Ukraine), Italy (supporting sanctions against Russia despite close economic ties), Turkey (closing access to the Black Sea under the 1936 Montreux Convention), Switzerland (abandoning neutrality to join EU sanctions) and Finland (where public polling shows a majority in favor of NATO membership for the first time).

NATO and the European Union have responded resolutely and swiftly, taking extraordinary measures at a defining moment for European history. Following Article 4 consultations, NATO deployed its response force for the first time alongside other measures to bolster its defensive presence across Eastern Europe. On top of fierce sanctions and massive financial support, the European Union agreed to deliver €450 million ($500 million) worth of lethal arms to Ukraine.

While unprecedented, these moves harnessed years of groundwork since Russia first seized parts of Ukraine in 2014. However, the months ahead will require NATO and the European Union to dig deeper if they are to continue to provide the foundations for a Europe whole and free. Rather than a Europe divided and a NATO in retreat, President Putin has achieved the exact opposite. Europe is stronger and more united than ever, while he is weaker and more isolated.

Sean Monaghan is a visiting fellow in the Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. Pierre Morcos is a visiting fellow with the Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program at CSIS.

Commentary is produced by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a private, tax-exempt institution focusing on international public policy issues. Its research is nonpartisan and nonproprietary. CSIS does not take specific policy positions. Accordingly, all views, positions, and conclusions expressed in this publication should be understood to be solely those of the author(s).

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Sean Monaghan
Visiting Fellow, Europe, Russia and Eurasia Program

Pierre Morcos