The Guardian view on Europe versus Putin: a strategic journey without maps | Editorial

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has ended an era of German foreign policy and is transforming security assumptions across the EUAs the latest barrage of Russian missiles rained on Kyiv on Tuesday, Finnish MPs debated new calls for a referendum on Nato membership. Along with Sweden – also militarily non-aligned – Finland is sending anti-tank missiles and other defence equipment to assist Ukraine, as it attempts to survive Russia’s brutal onslaught. The Swedes have undertaken no equivalent action since giving weapons to Finland during the Winter war with the Soviet Union in 1939. As European nations contemplate the scale of Vladimir Putin’s revanchist ambitions, and the lengths to which he is prepared to go to fulfil them, decades-old security assumptions are being redrawn and rethought in the space of days. A strategic journey without maps is being undertaken at hair-raising speed.Nowhere are the gears being moved through faster than in Germany. At the weekend, its Social Democrat chancellor, Olaf Scholz, abandoned longstanding precepts of German foreign policy, taking Europe’s wealthiest and most powerful country on to new terrain. Faced with Mr Putin’s invasion, Mr Scholz unexpectedly rejected the postwar taboo on sending lethal weapons to conflict zones, announcing that stinger missiles and other equipment would be sent to Ukraine. In an extraordinary Sunday session of the Bundestag, he announced that a fund of €100bn (£85bn) would be immediately set up to boost the strength of Germany’s armed forces. This will be supplemented by a sustained increase in the country’s defence spending in the years to come. These measures followed last week’s decision to halt the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project – which would double the flow of Russian gas direct to Germany – and robust support for unprecedented sanctions intended to collapse the Russian economy. Continue reading…

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has ended an era of German foreign policy and is transforming security assumptions across the EU

As the latest barrage of Russian missiles rained on Kyiv on Tuesday, Finnish MPs debated new calls for a referendum on Nato membership. Along with Sweden – also militarily non-aligned – Finland is sending anti-tank missiles and other defence equipment to assist Ukraine, as it attempts to survive Russia’s brutal onslaught. The Swedes have undertaken no equivalent action since giving weapons to Finland during the Winter war with the Soviet Union in 1939. As European nations contemplate the scale of Vladimir Putin’s revanchist ambitions, and the lengths to which he is prepared to go to fulfil them, decades-old security assumptions are being redrawn and rethought in the space of days. A strategic journey without maps is being undertaken at hair-raising speed.

Nowhere are the gears being moved through faster than in Germany. At the weekend, its Social Democrat chancellor, Olaf Scholz, abandoned longstanding precepts of German foreign policy, taking Europe’s wealthiest and most powerful country on to new terrain. Faced with Mr Putin’s invasion, Mr Scholz unexpectedly rejected the postwar taboo on sending lethal weapons to conflict zones, announcing that stinger missiles and other equipment would be sent to Ukraine. In an extraordinary Sunday session of the Bundestag, he announced that a fund of €100bn (£85bn) would be immediately set up to boost the strength of Germany’s armed forces. This will be supplemented by a sustained increase in the country’s defence spending in the years to come. These measures followed last week’s decision to halt the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project – which would double the flow of Russian gas direct to Germany – and robust support for unprecedented sanctions intended to collapse the Russian economy.

Continue reading…

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