The invasion by Russia in Ukraine has resulted in the collapse of post war European security order. It has created profound changes and created a system based on certain agreed principles. This war poses a huge threat to Europe’s security in general. It is necessary for the European nations to end the bloodshed and mitigate the crisis in a way which is favourable to them, keeping their priorities intact. The war is also accelerating transformations in the foreign policy of the European Union (EU) as they are forced to make changes in the new geopolitical realities rapidly.
There is also a lack of clarity in the realms of strategic objectives and identification of security threats repeatedly by the European Union. They were quick to talk, however, slow when acting to implement strategic autonomy. However, it is worth mentioning that efforts are on to put an end to the Ukraine crisis and managing the threats of this war poses to Europe’s security as a whole. The policy shift in Germany may perhaps be one of the biggest operators in the autonomy of the EU’s strategy, which targets Russia. Following its economic heft in the debt crisis in 2009 and its diplomatic heft in Crimea in 2014, Germany’s security breakthrough in the Russia-Ukraine conflict is symbolic of the history-making process of “normalising” the state since the end of World War II. The economic and industrial power of Germany will be a huge factor in the development of the relationship between Russia and the EU, even though it is focused upon meeting its security ambitions through the “EU way”.
Risky Implications of Military Assistance
Moreover, another major shift in the foreign policy of the European Union is to finance delivery of lethal equipment to Ukraine during the war under the European Peace Facility. It was mainly designed as a tool to support partner countries to fight against aggression from external factors – for which Ukraine is the first country to be funded with the supply of weapons. It is a historic movement, as Europe hasn’t exactly got an opportunity earlier to use it. The overall military aid to Ukraine is more than 1 billion Euros. To pay for arms supplies for Ukraine, the EU has disregarded its own safeguards for this type of support. Also, the EU’s lack of access to many parts of the country since the invasion began has curbed its ability to carefully gauge the risk that its arms might be misused. Even though the funding of weapons is indeed a dire need for the security concerns of Europe, yet they have no prior experience of handling such risky implications of military assistance. This has given rise to questions whether supporting partner nations with poor human rights records in the military is a feasible choice.
Even though the funding of weapons is indeed a dire need for the security concerns of Europe, yet they have no prior experience of handling such risky implications of military assistance
Apart from providing military aid, emphasis on defence ties among some European Governments was already emerging before the Russian invasion. Such implications can be seen in the paradigm shift reflected in the Strategic Compass, which was adopted by the EU on March 21st, 2022. The document provides a direction for the security and defence activities until 2030 as well as provide analysis of shared threats as a whole for Europe. Although earlier it was not found suitable by many Eastern European governments and concluded that it was downplaying threats arriving from Moscow, it has now a different narrative considering the Russian aggression in Ukraine. The document puts major emphasis on the threats which could be posed on the EU and the Member States by Russia. The rapid development to reach its goals by 2025, by developing 5,000 soldiers in a rapid deployment capacity under its command appears to be in shape with the unpreceded threats coming from external factors. However, the EU will have to keep expectations of such forces realistic and make sure it balances the new competencies with the ever-growing need for robust conflict diplomacy and peacebuilding efforts.
Zelenskyy’s Plea For EU Membership
The toughest imposition by the EU so far would be putting sanctions (financial, economic and trade) on Russia which has been considered a knock-on effect of not only its unprecedented measures, but also foreign policy action it may take elsewhere. Such implications have also put the EU together considering its division over the issue in history. However, such a tool has high potential for unknown effect and a success rate which cannot be ensured. A careful assessment of the sanction policy in terms of the current war is very essential which should be achieved realistically. Stronger mitigation of negative effects and clear stance on the reversibility of sanction are also a necessity if conditions are met. Considering the lack of time to strategise the sanctions properly after the invasion, the EU should now be able to make sure they can craft an alternative to end the stalemate. Significant factor to be concerned is Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s plea for EU membership. This led to passing of a resolution to ask the European leadership to grant a EU member candidate status to Ukraine. The non-committal response and distant prospect for Kyiv are prominent. However, the strategic value of the EU’s enlargement policy has surely got a reason to be discussed broadly, following the situation in Ukraine. It is deemed to be necessary considering their reason to strengthen the security measures against the Russian aggression. It could create momentum towards a bolder foreign policy that lasts beyond the immediate response to this crisis.
As a response to the war in Ukraine, the EU has acted decisively and unitedly in order to prioritise its own security concerns. However, it fails to show lack of will and cohesion to act in its changing foreign policy behind the unity of members which brings them to an awkward position. Although the crisis may allow the European nations to bring a greater role in foreign, security and defence policy for itself, it should also ensure addressing thorny questions that would arise. The tasks assigned should be thoroughly gone through with the same determination and unity shown during the early days of Russia’s invasion which addressed the dilemmas about the scale and purpose of its defence plans as well as the pros and cons of its further enlargement which is very much necessary.