“We sleep until we fall in love!” Leo Tolstoy writes brilliantly in his eternal masterpiece War and Peace.
Vladimir Putin should have read the giant of Russian literature more carefully before embarking on an unforgivable war that has already cost too many innocent lives and destroyed people’s desire to live in peace. He should have read the lines of his compatriot’s book to understand that when Russia annexed the Crimea, Europe was perhaps asleep but that a united continent, which suffered two world wars on its soil, couldn’t stay asleep forever.
And it happened: Europe fell in love with Ukraine and woke up. What we have seen in recent days is a continent falling in love with a country that fights against aggression, for its self-determination, for its freedom, for its democratic values.
We see a country that fights for European principles because the European Union is a beacon of hope for those who believe in peace and not in war, for those who believe in democracy and not in autocracy, for those who believe in the rule of law and not in the law of the strongest.
Less than a week after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, the European Union has imposed measures unimaginable just a month ago. The war in Ukraine brings out the humanity of the EU and its citizens, who put freedom and peace before interests and trade.
With the speed of light, the EU adopted the largest sanctions package in the history of the Union, hitting Russia’s financial system, its high-tech industries and its corrupt elite. These sanctions will weigh heavily on the Russian economy and on the Kremlin. They will also have a cost for the European economy.
But, as European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said last Tuesday in a moving speech to the assembly, the EU is determined to do #whateverittakes to save the continent from a bellicose authoritarian aggressor, who is in war against the European project for a long time too long. The three words uttered by former ECB President Mario Draghi to save the euro are now on everyone’s lips to save Europe.
And it happened: Europe fell in love with Ukraine and woke up
Europe’s awakening is visible across the spectrum of policies. If Europe wants to continue to live in peace, it must finally build a strong common foreign and defense policy. The taboo disappeared when we saw war again on our continent.
At the darkest hour, when Russia launched an unprovoked and unwarranted invasion of Ukraine and massive disinformation campaigns, the EU agreed to immediately release some 500 million euros for member states to buy weapons to the Ukrainian armed forces, in a gesture described as a “decisive moment”. for its defense policy. #Whatever it takes.
The EU has asked its satellite center in Madrid to provide intelligence to Ukraine on Russian troop movements and EU countries are determined to further increase their bilateral military support to Kyiv. #Whatever it takes.
Germany has committed 100 billion euros to its country’s defense budget.
In another major U-turn, Chancellor Olaf Scholz allowed third countries like the Netherlands to ship German-made defensive weapons to Ukraine and he backed a call for the EU to fund the supply of defensive weapons to Ukraine. #Whatever it takes.
From Ireland to Poland, Europe is welcoming refugees from Ukraine after years of disagreement over migration policy. Even Hungary has joined its European allies against Putin. The Polish president has called for Ukraine to be fast-tracked for EU membership and many support him. #Whatever it takes.
This growing momentum towards safeguarding peace and solidarity gives Europe its new torch to rally Europeans and not only.
Putin totally misunderstood the lesson of history.
The EU needed to regain the desire for peace to continue building its construction. Putin, rather than dividing Europe, united us all towards this mission.
Putin must be reminded, as Tolstoy rightly wrote, that “kings are the slaves of history”.
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