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How The War In Ukraine Changed Europe

The war in Ukraine has transformed Europe more profoundly than any event since the end of the Cold War in 1989. A peace mentality, most acute in Germany, has given way to a dawning awareness that military power is needed in the pursuit of security and strategic objectives. The E.U. was built on the idea that economic exchanges, trade and interdependence were the best guarantees against war. “Many of us had started to take peace for granted,” Sauli Niinisto, Finland’s president, said this month. Now, a continent on autopilot has been galvanized into an immense effort to save liberty in Ukraine, a freedom widely seen as synonymous with its own. As a long war looms, the E.U. will grapple with how to reinforce its militaries; how to navigate tensions between frontline states intent on Russia’s complete defeat and those, like France and Germany, that are inclined toward compromise. The E.U. will also need to navigate an American election next year that will feed anxieties over whether Washington will stay the course. Finland and Sweden, long content to remain neutral, are pushing to join NATO. Germany has announced a $112 billion investment in its armed forces. And nations like France, concerned about Europe’s military dependence on the U.S., are calling for “strategic autonomy.”

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