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Vladimir Putin united the West

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Stimes the fleeting days after the unification attacks of September 11, 2001, the century did not contribute to expectations that the world’s democracies would work together effectively. Expensive wars and unstable American leadership, Germany’s preference for confrontation over confrontation, Britain’s renunciation of the European Union, Poland’s and Hungary’s retreat: even before President Joe Biden thwarted America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, such interconnected events gave him hope simple nato but also, perhaps, the promise of liberal democracy itself. His one bold push in this direction – a new tripartite pact with Australia and Britain to contain China – has blinded and angered Emanuel Macron of France, reinforcing the Elysee Palace’s belief that Europe must develop “strategic autonomy”.

The combination of Vladimir Putin’s viciousness and Ukraine’s courage seems to change this dynamic in a way that Putin clearly did not expect. The invasion was less than a week old, but by February 27 it had succeeded in one sense, where years of Barack Obama’s persuasions and bullying by Donald Trump had failed. Germany has committed itself to sharply increase its military spending to above 2%. GDP. Calling the invasion a “turning point in the history of our continent”, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said: “It is clear that we will need to invest much more in the security of our country to protect our freedom and our democracy.”

A few hours after Mr. Scholz’s speech es said it would close its airspace to Russian planes and send military aid to Ukraine, making it the first of 27 commitments for the country under attack. Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store has said its $ 1.3 trillion sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, will sell off its Russian assets. p.n., a British oil company, has said it will get rid of nearly 20% of Rosneft, an oil producer controlled by the Russian government. Two courier companies, Federal Express and United Parcel Service, have suspended operations in Russia.

On both sides of the Atlantic, foreign policy analysts have expressed surprise at the speed and toughness of the international response, including new sanctions aimed at damaging the Russian economy. freezing the assets of its central bank. Due to the fact that China was silent about the actions of Russia and several countries other than Syria, which united in this, America stressed the isolation of Putin. Linda Thomas Greenfield, America’s ambassador to the United Nations, said the White House would seek an emergency meeting un The General Assembly and the vote, perhaps as early as Wednesday, on a resolution deploring Mr Putin’s invasion. Pad un rules, Russia has no right to veto such a resolution, as did the draft resolution un The Security Council on 25 February – although the vote of the General Assembly is not mandatory.

It is impossible to estimate the strength of the global response a rare American political consensus in support of the Biden administration policy or natoconcerted action. But speaking to Fox News Sunday, Condoleezza Rice, who was secretary of state under President George W. Bush, said Putin had managed to unite. nato in a way that I didn’t think I would ever see again after the end of the Cold War ”. Referring to Germany’s support for sanctions and increased military spending, Ms. Rice added that he had “stirred the hornet’s nest.”

Since the end of the Cold War, Germany has worried regular US presidents about not meeting natoRussian military target expenditures are 2% of GDP for European members. But Mr Scholz called on Germany to make greater investments “from now on”, proposing to enshrine this commitment in the country’s constitution. “Putin wants to create a Russian empire,” Mr Scholz told parliament. The question before Germany, he said, was “can we gather strength to set boundaries for instigators of war like Putin.”

Mr Scholz also offered to invest 100 billion euros ($ 113 billion) this year in a special fund to modernize the armed forces. He announced specific procurement plans, including armed drones from Israel and possibly F-35 fighters from America. He referred to the usefulness of these fighters for amplification natonuclear deterrence, which has long been a politically toxic topic in Germany. Earlier, on February 26, Germany violated its long-standing policy against sending weapons to conflict zones, saying it would send anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to help Ukraine.

Claudia Meyer of the German Institute for International Affairs and Security, an think tank, called Mr Scholz’s proposals “a revolution in German defense policy”. She says the statements are a recognition of the failure of Germany’s security policy with Russia since the end of the Cold War. She did so with the conviction that talks and trade with Russia would lead her to respect for human rights and a peaceful role in the community of nations. Now, says Ms. Major, a new era of confrontation has begun.

Although there are still no reliable polls on public sentiment, Mr Scholz’s actions are supported by all major parties in the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament. More than 100,000 people of all ages took to the streets of Berlin on February 27 to protest the war. They gathered on a wide boulevard leading from the Victory Column to the Brandenburg Gate in the city center, waving Ukrainian flags and holding signs, often blue-gold-yellow, with the words “No to Putin”, “No to World War III”. “We stand with Ukraine.” Some signs had images of Hitler and the warning “History repeats itself.”

Ms. Major, who was born in East Germany, compares the shift in public sentiment to that which occurred when the wall collapsed in 1989. “The refugees have arrived in Berlin,” she said. “The idea that we have a war in Europe and it has come to our doorstep and it can really enter our home is a fear that people feel.” She adds: “I really feel that Germany has woken up. I think today they realized what we call in German Page timesa change of time, a change of epoch ”.

One can find our recent coverage of the crisis in Ukraine here

https://www.economist.com/international/2022/02/27/vladimir-putin-has-rallied-the-west

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