War is coming to Europe – Defense Security Monitor

“I believe that the European Union more accurately reflects what the world will look like at the end of history than the contemporary United States. The EU’s attempt to transcend traditional sovereignty and power politics by establishing a transnational rule of law is much more in keeping with a “post-historical” world than Americans’ continued belief in God, national sovereignty and their army.Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man

With the signing of the Belavezha Accords by the Presidents of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, the Soviet Union officially dissolved on December 8, 1991. Since then, each of these three countries has evolved into its own leadership, though forever bound by a shared heritage.

Fast forward to the early hours of February 24, 2022, and these three countries are now entangled in a different scenario, this one involving a Russian military invasion of neighboring Ukraine, encouraged by Moscow’s partner in Belarus, the latter allowing the Russian forces use its soil as a launching point for one of many thrusts into Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal to “demilitarize and denazify” Ukraine is now underway, and, whether he wants to wipe it all out, the rest of Europe now faces the kind of state-on-state war and hard-power scenarios on his frontier that he hoped to avoid.

The European Union (EU) has imposed a first round of sanctions on Putin’s Kremlin circle, and others will follow, including an embargo on exports of critical technologies.

But in reality, the sanctions – as alluring as they are a tool in a politician’s handbook – are too little, too late to change the behavior of the Russian leader.

The die is cast.

The war is now taking place on Europe’s easternmost borders in a country geographically straddling four EU and NATO member countries. That doesn’t even include the three EU and NATO member countries wedged between Belarus and Russia.

The situation is hardly surprising to those who have closely watched Russia’s actions in its former Soviet “near abroad” since at least 2007. What began as cyberattacks on Estonian government servers eventually became an incursion military in Russia’s southern neighbour, Georgia, before moving to Crimea. takeover and absorption by Russia proper in 2014, which was then followed by military and other support to ethnic Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Lugansk (collectively called Donbass).

Yet with every step came denial – denial that Russia was a direct threat to Europe, denial that Putin would take any further action beyond the bite of the apple just undertaken, the denial that a war with fire would actually arrive at the gates of Europe.

Military planners often cited Russia as an imminent threat in various national defense white papers and national security strategies, but government leaders preferred to believe that Putin’s calculations and his sense of risk and rationality reflected their own. .

Perhaps surprisingly, the loudest voice emerging from the fold of the two EU and NATO members comes from tiny Estonia, where its Prime Minister, Kaja Kallas, has relentlessly and unhesitatingly denounced the machinations of Putin long before the launch of the first rockets.

Meanwhile, despite French President Emmanuel Macron’s last-minute efforts to make peace with Putin and heed the Russian leader’s strategic concerns, the military invasion has continued.

And so here we are, and with the arrival of this conflict come questions related to the second and third order effects of Moscow’s actions.

A few of them are:

Will the war in Ukraine spill over into Poland or Romania, or even into non-aligned Moldova?

Does Russia’s latest move finally make Finland and Sweden reconsider their past reluctance to join NATO?

Is Putin just limiting Russia’s actions against former Soviet satellites to Ukraine, or are the Baltics, Georgia, Moldova or even EU member Finland targets? potential direct or indirect actions?

What support to Ukraine, beyond the supply of small-scale defensive equipment and ammunition, can be expected from NATO members for a non-NATO country? Is any will additional military aid flow to Ukraine?

What’s going on with French President Emmanuel Macron’s yearning for a sovereign European defense capability (outside of NATO, of course) now that some EU countries have been awakened from their security slumber of several decades ?

We wait and watch as Ukrainians now face much tougher questions. For them, the end of the story ended in 2014, but for the rest of Europe, it ended today.