In Brussels, Westerners united but helpless in the face of the war in Ukraine

Joe Biden and Charles Michel, President of the European Council, during the arrival of the American President in Brussels, March 24, 2022.

“A month of war, six million people and half of Ukrainian children displaced” : Thursday 24 March, in Brussels, on the occasion of an intense diplomatic day – a NATO summit, another of the G7, followed by a European Council, in the presence of American President Joe Biden –, the High Representative of the Twenty-Seven for foreign affairs Josep Borrell looked back on these four weeks which changed Europe and gave new impetus to the Atlantic alliance. But they have not, to date, made it possible to stop the war launched by Vladimir Putin against Ukraine.

On February 24, just a month ago, Russia had just launched the invasion of Ukraine. Taken aback, the Europeans were organizing their first war summit, and Volodymyr Zelensky, by videoconference from kyiv, told them that this might be the last time he would be able to speak to them. Since then, the Ukrainian president has multiplied virtual interventions, the Ukrainian resistance has organized itself and Moscow’s offensive is stalling.

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Despite massive sanctions taken from the first days, and since reinforced over the weeks, despite the delivery of Western weapons to kyiv and the stalemate in his offensive, Vladimir Putin still demands the capitulation of the Ukrainian authorities, making an impossible ceasefire. His army continues to besiege the country, including the martyr city of Mariupol, and bombard civilians.

Now that the conflict is setting in, Westerners have taken advantage of Joe Biden’s visit to Brussels to demonstrate unity, in the absence of really new decisions. “NATO has never been as united as it is today”launched the American president, at the end of the summit of the Atlantic Alliance and the G7, just before meeting the Heads of State and Government of the Twenty-Seven: “Putin has achieved the opposite of what he was looking for. » “Never has the partnership between the United States and Europe been stronger”tweeted Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.

Disagreement over the energy embargo

In reality, the Europeans and their American ally face a dilemma that is more difficult to overcome every day: do everything to avoid the extension of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, without going to war against Moscow, or abandoning kyiv to its fate.

To counter Vladimir Putin, who has always been able to play on the divisions between the Twenty-Seven, the Western camp is aware that it has, in four weeks, already used many of the diplomatic, military and economic cartridges at its disposal. And wonders, to respond to public opinion mobilized by the Ukrainian cause as much as shaken by the return of the war in Europe, how to do more.

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