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Luuk van Middelaar in European newspapers on Europe’s response to war in Ukraine

In an essay published in three prominent European newspapers, Professor Luuk van Middelaar takes a close look at Europe’s role in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. ‘Europe shows plenty of political energy, but what is still lacking is strategic cool-headedness, in facing a nuclear power.’

Luuk van Middelaar

In his essay, Van Middelaar writes that with the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian President Putin has thrown himself into the unthinkable. 'In times of great danger, unexpected forces are unleashed. Ukraine is fighting back, and in the opening battle for European public opinion it has achieved a stunning victory. We are no longer looking at a chaotic country on the Black Sea but a nation presenting itself as the bearer of Europe’s democratic promise, with the president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, its hero.'

Van Middelaar also points to the striking role played by Germany. 'At least as unexpected is Germany’s geopolitical awakening. Massive defence investments, military support for Kyiv, the recognition of gas dependency as a strategic error: one surprise follows another.'

However, Van Middelaar writes, the question remains whether, in the end, it will be enough to confront nuclear power Russia. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was remarkably quick to put Ukraine accession to the EU on the table. When NATO did so in 2008, it intensified the conflict with Russia. At a time when we want to bring Putin to his senses, the EU needs to show more strategic awareness, says the historian.

Luuk van Middelaar’s essay was published in:

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