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NewsPutin fails where Europe succeeds

Putin fails where Europe succeeds

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Tom Vandenkendelaere
Tom Vandenkendelaerehttps://www.tomvandenkendelaere.be
Tom Vandenkendelaere is a member of the Flemish Christian Democratic Party (CDV-EPP). He took up his first mandate in the European Parliament from 2014 to 2019 and is now exercising his second mandate until 2024. From 2012 until 2014 he was Chairman of JONGCD&V – the youth organisation of CD&V.

Unfortunately, the predictions of recent months have come true. Europe is condemning not only in the strongest possible terms, but also in deeds, Russia’s attack on Ukraine. In recent days Europe has moved from a trot to a sprint in the area of defence. Putin wanted to weaken NATO and divide Europe. However, he is achieving exactly the opposite of what he intended. The time when Europe only asserted itself as an economic giant is over. Our continent is at a historic turning point.

Europe has never been so united. With an unprecedented package of financial sanctions, Russian bank assets have been frozen to drain Putin’s war machine. The entire European airspace has been closed to all Russian aircraft, including the private jets of oligarchs. The Russian propaganda channels Russia Today and Sputnik have been banned to stop disinformation. For the first time in history, the EU will finance military equipment that Member States will deliver to Ukraine to the tune of half a billion euros. Germany has made a historic U-turn by announcing that it will invest 100 billion euros in defence and that 2% of GDP will go to defence, as NATO has been demanding for years. The Nordstream 2 pipeline has been suspended. A European emergency aid package worth 1.2 billion euro has been greenlighted for Ukraine. A decision to offer temporary protection for Ukrainian refugees will be taken this week. 

Europe is acting as one while Russia turns into the pariah of the international community. And Europe will continue to stand firm. Any further military aggression by Russia against Ukraine will bear further consequences and heavy costs. Russia has invaded Ukraine but Europe has Russia by the throat financially. De-escalation can only happen if Russia withdraws its troops from Ukraine. It is still possible for Russia to change course. The sooner the better. Every hour that the conflict drags on is an hour that more people are killed. De-escalation is an absolute prerequisite for ending this conflict. At the same time, we must now dare to think ahead and not miss this opportunity to enforce our strategic autonomy in Europe in terms of defence and energy supply. Nobody knows what Putin is ultimately capable of. Europe depends on Russia for 40% of its gas supply. Drastic retaliatory measures are not inconceivable. Because of the crisis, the pressure is now on to make progress in boosting Europe’s independence in strategic sectors.

The will is there. To Putin’s regret, the result is not a divided but a united Europe and not a weaker but a stronger NATO. Is it not precisely in times of crisis that the EU has always made progress? This is an opportunity to unleash leadership and strengthen our European construction, let us not miss this chance to write history.

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