Opinion | Tragedy Revival in Europe

Since the mid-1990s, Europe has not experienced military conflicts on its soil. The latest was from Bosnia, the product of the decomposition of the former Yugoslavia. Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, an independent state since August 24, 1991, is of a different nature. It marks a break with both the decision to forcefully change leaders and the desire to correct the border accepted by Moscow at the end of the Soviet Union in 1991.

For the past three decades, after a long period of the Cold War, European countries have intended to benefit from the newly discovered benefits of peace by reducing their military efforts. They also accepted the energy dependence on Russia, which regained its position in national concerts, beyond the authoritarian nature of its administration. In 1998, the country joined the G7. This was the largest gathering summit in the West, becoming the G8 and being excluded in 2014. The expansion of the European Union into eastern Eastern European countries between 2004 and 2007 symbolized victory. The impact of democracy and the market economy on the temptation of nationalists who have caused many conflicts in the past.

The methods adopted by the founders of European construction, especially Jean Monnet, to prevent the recurrence of the war between France and Germany, have been successfully applied to countries that were formerly Moscow satellites. The principle was integration into a single market with significant budgetary support to promote economic convergence. A generation later, these countries experienced true growth with varying degrees of success. The Czech Republic or Slovakia has levels of wealth close to the European average. On the contrary, Ukraine, which did not join the European Union, could not recover. By 2020, GDP per capita was 20% lower than in the early 1990s. Political divisions, complex relations with Russia, and corruption have made its growth better, despite its great economic potential. The country has experienced a long recession, not benefiting from European aid and the single market like its neighbors.

The European Union is learning the difficult way that history is always tragic. Trade cannot solve all problems or overcome the tensions of all nationalists. The fear of siege and the desire to wash away the insults of the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union were stronger than all economic reasons. After the retreat of the Brexit and epidemic battles after the western failure of Mali in Afghanistan, Russian officials certainly believed that the risk-taking of invading Ukraine in early 2022 was low. And he knew that he could find alternative customers, especially China, for two years with the Sovereign Wealth Fund, including in the case of the western energy embargo.

The Ukrainian case encourages Westerners to become more and more united as the axes of Moscow and Ekin are shaped daily. If such an axis existed in the 1950s, today there is another consistency due to China’s economic weight. The crisis in Ukraine has also forced European Union member states to redefine energy supply policies, which on the one hand remain dependent on a limited number of countries, and defense policies, on the other.

In some countries directly facing the Russian threat, Poland, Romania, Hungary, and apparently the Baltic states, the problems of European defense organizations have become more serious than yesterday, and the United States has been tempted to return to isolation. increase. With the energy shift, the digitalization of the economy and the aging of the population after the health crisis, Europe faces new challenges, proving that the story never ends.

Philip Kleber