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HomeGeopolitical CompassEurope, Russia, OceaniaPutin’s War is Europe’s 9/11

Putin’s War is Europe’s 9/11

Author: Caroline de Gruyter

Affiliation: Foreign Policy

Organization/Publisher: Foreign Policy

Date/Place: February 28, 2022/USA

Type of Literature: Analysis

Word Count: 1500


Keywords: Putin, Biden, Ukraine, Russia, US, Europe, and  9/11


On the morning of February 24, 2022, Europe had a watershed moment as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine kicked off. This was demonstrated by Germany’s Army Chief writing on LinkedIn that, “he never thought he will experience war again”, adding that the German’s naked military can offer very little to support NATO. Germany’s former Defense Minister similarly tweeted that Germany had planned nothing after Georgia, Crimea, and Donbas to deter Putin, then adding that they had forgotten the lesson of Schmidt and Kohl—that while negotiations come first, you have to be militarily strong for non-negotiations to a be a non-option. The article’s title refers to the rapid military shift, advancement, and spending by the US in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, suggesting that Putin’s war might be a spark that Europe needed to re-arm itself. The German Chancellor added 100 billion Euros to the defense budget shortly after the invasion started to “defend [Germany’s] freedom and democracy” as he puts it, in what was described as a revolution by Claudia Major, a defense analyst for the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin. The article stresses that Europe has learned that you have to have both sides preferring peace to war, which only happens when the option of war is too costly. For Russia, that was not the case. The article sheds light on the fact that most Europeans have been living under the Long Peace since 1960. Most European countries have been trimming their defense budgets, as the new generations saw war as the reality of non-democratic countries, increasingly removing themselves from the mindset of war. For this reason, Europe has failed to address Putin who hasn’t concealed his desire to expand and return parts of the Russian Empire, something that has eluded Europe despite 22 years of relationships. Putin is walking in the footsteps of Stalin who regained territory Russia lost in WWI. Both Russian leaders, the article suggests, are imperialists who fear Western democracies. The article concludes that Putin does not seem to want to stop. The only way to stop him is to make his war option too costly politically, economically, and militarily. 

Critical Commentary:

Europe’s reliance on institutions for diplomacy have exposed their military unpreparedness in the wake of the Russian invasion. The remarks made by the German Chancellor are potentially telling in their striking resemblance to the US’s military rhetoric. Yet, as recent events suggest, Europe’s policy might not have been completely misguided, as diplomatic efforts are gaining considerable momentum on the international stage, to the point that they might deter Russia eventually with its rapid economic collapse. The article fails to show the two sides to Europe’s post-WWII mentality. 

By: Hamza Emir, CIGA Research Assistant



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