It’s been a year since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, a year since Russia skipped all the protocols and went for everything to its neighboring country. With the start of the conflict came uncontrolled inflation and an unstoppable rise in prices that has put the whole of Europe in check. In addition, the war in Ukraine has caused a geostrategic change in the European Union because all countries -and not just those in the East- have internalized the risk posed by Russia, and at the same time has opened up a series of challenges with an uncertain end that will mark the future of the club and the continent.
As a consequence of this new perception of the threat posed by the Kremlin, shared energy security has acquired fundamental importance and, in order to avoid supply problems, the EU has reduced its dependence on Moscow in one year, which it had until before the war.
The Twenty-seven have stopped importing their oil and have achieved that the gas they buy from Russia represents today 9%, compared to 40% a year ago, which they are supplying with a greater diversification of suppliers, mainly the United States, but also Norway or Qatar.
“The first and most obvious thing that has changed” with the war “is energy diversification,” Rosa Balfour, director of the Carnegie Europe think tank, told EFE, for whom “it will be difficult to return to the status quo.” And for now, “the EU has proven to be more resistant to the energy ‘shock’ than we thought,” Bruegel’s researcher, Georg Zachmann, also told EFE.
In fact, the European Commission has just raised the growth forecast for the euro area and the EU, to 0.9% and 0.8% respectively, and has lowered inflation to 5.6%.
Another of the changes caused by the conflict is that the EU, for the first time, is financing the shipment of arms to support an attacked third country, breaking a taboo in an organization that was born after the Second World War with the aim of guaranteeing peace between European countries.
“This is a taboo that has been broken and now I’m starting to think it could be one way the EU gets involved in security issues around the world in the future,” Balfour said.
However, the war has once again reaffirmed NATO as the true guarantee of Europe’s security, burying the statements of French President Emmanuel Macron in 2019, when he said that the Atlantic Alliance is “brain dead”.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has put “the reality” on the table, continues Balfour, that in terms of security and defense, the Europeans depend on the United States, which now “is less relevant” the strategic autonomy that the EU wanted boost, first with the coming to power of former US President Donald Trump and then with the pandemic.
An idea shared by Zach Paikin, a researcher at the Center for European Policy Studies, for whom “the most immediate dynamic” that has been generated by the war is that “the EU is not stronger, because it is more aligned with the United States to guarantee your own safety.”
safety in europe
Paikin considers that the fact that all the EU countries have assumed the threat posed by Moscow “does not mean that we have the same global vision of what the European Union’s security and defense policy should be” and, therefore, of how the war must end.
“There is an agreement in the EU that the war will end when Ukraine decides that the time has come, that Ukraine’s future borders should not be decided in Paris, Berlin, Warsaw or Washington. They will have to be decided in Kiev,” he says. Balfour.
But he believes that “if Ukraine’s military victory is not so obvious, which is a possibility given that an offensive (from Moscow) is expected and Russia has resources, some countries in Europe may start arguing that there must be some kind of solution.” commitment to the territorial integrity of Ukraine”.
For now, the EU and Western countries are committed to military aid to Kiev and Brussels has already granted Ukraine candidate country status, showing not only its support, but also the struggle with Russia to win influenza in the area, as well as in the Western Balkans, whose accession process has also increased the Twenty-seven.
The enlargement is “another great potential change” that the war could bring about in the EU, since it will force it to carry out “great reforms”, not only in internal decision-making, with a hypothetical elimination of unanimity, but, for example, of the Common Agricultural Policy, since “Ukraine is a large agricultural sector”.