Today, Europe is at an inflection point because it remains wedded to “institutional thinking” that is increasingly divorced from hard-power realities on the ground. At the same time, the Continent’s political leaders sense that what happens in Ukraine — and, ultimately, where it ends up on Europe’s political map — will define the course of Europe’s evolution and, by extension, transatlantic relations.
No matter what, one thing is certain, though: There will be real and enduring consequences for the future of Europe.
When a nation has won its freedom through a horrific and bloody sacrifice, defending others on the Continent in the process, it can’t be stood aside and told it’s a peripheral state. A victorious Ukraine will thus claim its place in Europe by the sheer magnitude of its sacrifice, while both the U.S. and the European nations that played a key role in its victory — especially those along NATO’s eastern flank — will become that much more influential.
Putin’s folly to go all out against Ukraine has set in motion a process that can’t be reversed. And it isn’t just that Europe’s center of gravity will shift northeast, but also that the once-nebulous concept of Eastern Europe as a backwater of the West — an image reinforced by the Balkan wars of the 1990s — has been all but dismantled. [Continue reading…]