Culture notes: Will the EU find its voice at last?

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has galvanized the bloc, but doubt remains about how it can capitalize on this moment, writes Catherine Fieschi.

The World Today Published 3 February 2023 3 minute READ

Catherine Fieschi

Director, Counterpoint

Despite its reticence to believe that Russia would attack Ukraine, once Vladimir Putin’s tanks rolled across the Donbas, the European Union finally grasped the momentous nature of the events unfolding on its eastern flank. The immediate reaction of Europe’s member states was one of unity, resolve and uncharacteristically rapid decision-making, at least on sanctions and energy policy.

That they would need to act in concert across a concatenation of crises that would be either triggered (energy), worsened (inflation) or heightened (geopolitical instability) by Putin’s move was obvious. And so, Europe’s collective narrative of this past year slid into place, and it goes something like this: We gave Russia the benefit of every doubt, including after their invasion of Crimea when we still tried to bring them back to the negotiating table, but Putin has made the fundamental choice of turning away from democracy and the rule of law.

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