Europe’s security has long depended on its policy towards Russia, and this policy played an essential role in transatlantic cooperation. However, the Russia-Ukraine crisis at the EU’s threshold has moved the bloc towards European integration.
EU Needs a Strategic Policy in Eastern Border
European Union needs a strong and unified foreign policy to handle the Russia-Ukraine crisis on its eastern borders. The EU has acted chiefly objectively in its comfort zone and tried to adopt a neutral position. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has generated a defining moment in European politics, changing its policy doctrine. After the Russian-Ukraine crisis has sparked, the Union needs a strategic policy towards its Eastern partners. The Russian government had already asked the EU to rule out Ukrainian joining the bloc. Moscow also wanted NATO forces to be out of former Soviet countries. The Russia-Ukraine crisis looked like a post-WWII era when the US and Soviets played the leading role. It is a conflict at the EU’s doorstep, where the alliance needs to handle the geopolitical tensions. It is time to shift from mere transatlantic cooperation to a more European approach.
EU Moves Towards Integration
It has been a part of the EU’s defence doctrine to not act as one on defence. Transatlantic cooperation has long been a significant effort by the EU members on security and protection. NATO has been a symbol of transatlantic cooperation in the military in recent decades.
Europe has depended on the US for its security and suffered structural problems in its defence section. But the EU must develop its military to become a stronger geopolitical actor. Europe has set out the goal for developing its defence capacity, and the EU is the best vehicle for it. The EU-US strategic alignment has been dramatically changed as the EU has developed fundamental capabilities. The Russia-Ukraine crisis has sparked, and transatlantic cooperation is shifting towards more European collaboration. The rulers of the EU have made more integrated decisions effectively to deter Russia from its Eastern borders.
Ukraine Conflict Changed EU’s Strategy
The EU has its political and economic power, and it will liberate itself militarily. The EU needs to implement significant reform. Otherwise, it will remain dependent. The Russia-Ukraine crisis is the most acute security crisis in Europe since the Cold War. It has caused a shift in global security from a US dominance to integration between EU countries. The developments on the EU front were prominent, and the EU has unilaterally taken punitive actions against Russia. The northern and eastern European countries have usually acted reluctantly on a unified EU strategy. They are not sceptical towards an integrated policy on the Russia-Ukraine crisis because the conflict is a problem for Europe. Germany has consistently refused to send lethal weapons to conflict zones, but it will help and increase its military spending. The Russia-Ukraine crisis is changing the EU’s defence strategy to a more autonomous approach.
EU Welcomes Ukrainians with Open Arms
The Russia-Ukraine crisis is going to change global geopolitics profoundly. Since it is happening on the EU’s doorstep, it has profound consequences for the future of Europe. The EU has swiftly responded to the Russian invasion of Ukraine by severe sanctions. The EU financed to deliver weapons to a country outside the bloc for the first time in its history.
EU governments are reluctant to accept refugees from Syria or Afghanistan, or other countries inside the EU. But now, the EU is more united to welcome refugees and asylum seekers crossing the borders into the EU states. The EU has triggered a never-before-used directive to provide residence permits to Ukrainians. The EU has shown solidarity with Ukraine as a part of Europe and introduced The Temporary Protection Directive. It is a historic move to host and accept the Ukrainians feeling war for three years.
EU Supplies Ukraine with Arms
The EU has avoided transatlantic cooperation and decided to unblock funds to buy arms for Ukraine. The EU’s chief diplomat has announced the new weapon program, which will provide components to the Ukrainian army. The EU funds it by the European Peace Facility for the first time to a country under attack. NATO countries have also been delivering military equipment to Ukraine, which will increase arm mobilization in the continent. NATO sends thousands of anti-tank weapons, thousands of small arms and ammunition stocks, and hundreds of air-defence missiles. Europe is united in deterring Russia; even the neutral Swiss will freeze Russian assets. Traditionally, impartial countries like Ireland and Austria will send non-lethal aid to Ukraine. Europe is integrated to support Ukraine by arming Kyiv and punitive sanctions against Russia.
Nationalism Pushes EU towards Integration
This united Europe against Russia is not only the outcome of the Russia-Ukraine crisis. After years of Trump’s era in the US, the EU was hopeful for better transatlantic cooperation with the Biden administration. However, AUKUs and Afghanistan cases have shattered transatlantic collaboration. Moreover, throughout recent years, nationalism and right-wing parties have increased in Europe. People have concerns about their national identities, the European Union, and immigration. Since the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, Euroscepticism has challenged the EU. Far-right political parties and nationalistic sentiments are the opposite forces to European integration. So, the European Union has been trying to keep the bloc more integrated to avoid a fragmented Union. The European political project has always meant to stop the violence in Europe’s long history.
Relations with Russia have always been challenging for the European Union. After the 2014 crisis in Eastern Europe, the world has seen a shift in the EU’s approach to Russia. The bloc used to rely on transatlantic cooperation militarily, where confronting Russia played an important role. But geopolitical changes have impacted the EU’s tactic and made the EU reconsider its dependence on the US.
Besides, the rise of nationalist sentiments against the self-Europeanization of Europe can result in the EU’s death. European Union will focus less on transatlantic cooperation, changing its approach and keeping Europe more united. The Russia-Ukraine crisis is a “watershed” moment to prove the EU’s unity is more valuable for a safer continent. The Union has shown strategic solidarity with Ukraine, while it will arm Kyiv and grant residency for Ukrainians. It is a rebirth of a new Europe with a new doctrine.
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