Will Putin unite Europe? by Marc Leonard

Across Europe, national attitudes towards the Russian threat to Ukraine reflect a wide range of historical concerns and experiences, prompting criticism that the European Union will remain unhappy and divided. Yet underlying the differences between Europeans are essential common interests which they are increasingly willing to defend.

BERLIN – A 21st century war in Europe is no longer unthinkable. After weeks of speculation about Russia’s possible invasion of Ukraine, a clear majority of those polled in a recent pan-european poll by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) believe that war is likely and that Europe should react.

Different countries are driven by different fears, partly based on their own recent experiences. In Poland, which has had to contend with attempts by Belarus to funnel Middle Eastern migrants across its border, there are growing fears of new waves of refugees. In France and Sweden, cyberattacks are the main concern, reflecting recent Russian interference in their national elections. And for Germans, Italians and Romanians, energy shortages are the biggest fear.

But there is more at stake than Europeans’ different perception of external threats. The great German strategist Carl von Clausewitz celebrates describe war as a continuation of politics by other means, and in the early weeks of the Ukrainian crisis, how countries reacted to the threat of war said a lot about their domestic politics.

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Mary I. Bruner