"We Won't Return to Europe of 2021: This Would Be Europe of 1930s"

Monday, 11 December 2023 — Group of European security think-tankers

Alarm bells are ringing.

While Ukrainian forces are struggling on the frontline, unequipped for a long war of attrition, Russia is cranking up its arms production, Europe is falling behind on its promise of ammunition deliveries, and the US, with its upcoming election, is threatening to end its military aid.

Against this backdrop, some believe that the most reasonable option is to force Ukraine to make concessions and end the war.

Today, we – think-tankers who have been working on European security for many years – make a solemn appeal to the citizens of Europe and their leaders.

Abandoning Ukraine would render Europe terribly vulnerable.

We would not return to the Europe of 2021.

We would, instead, fall back to a state of permanent insecurity. Europe would be profoundly weakened by the loss of the Ukrainian bulwark and the loss of mutual trust between European states. And we would face an empire emboldened by the demonstration that it can strengthen itself through aggression. It would be a return to the Europe of the 1930s.

Abandonment is not inevitable. Europe does possess the economic resources to confront Russia. The most urgent measure is to coordinate a vast industrial mobilisation to supply more arms and ammunitions to Ukraine, and eventually, to outproduce Russia.

The EU in particular has shown how successful it can be when it pools its resources through the joint procurement of Covid-19 vaccines. In 2021, it had signed €71 billion worth of contracts securing up to 4.6 billion doses. This example must be followed up today. In this way, Russia and its supporters will also understand that the EU also has staying power.

If we fail to make armament efforts today, we would have to make them tomorrow, and – if Russia achieves its objectives in Ukraine – under significantly more difficult and threatening conditions.

And we would have lost precious time.

If we commit ourselves fully to guarantee Ukrainians a European future, Russia would be no match for us. Russia’s strength rests largely on our indecision.

In his speeches, known as the ‘Philippics’, the ancient orator Demosthenes called on the Athenians not to remain passive in the face of King Philip II of Macedonia’s expansionism. He urged them that they support those who were under Macedonians’ attack and that they mount their resistance by producing weapons and mobilising the whole of Greece.

For Demosthenes, what was at stake was the survival of Greece of free and democratic cities. For us, the stakes are just as existential. The survival of a free and democratic Europe depends on Ukrainian victory.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this text are those of the signatories and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities they represent.

  • Félix Arteaga, Senior Analyst, Elcano Royal Institute (Spain)
  • Sven Biscop, Director of the Europe in the World Programme, Egmont Institute, and Professor at Ghent University (Belgium)
  • Carmen Claudín, Associate Senior Researcher, Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (Spain)
  • Alyona Getmanchuk, Founder and Director of the New Europe Center (Ukraine)
  • Justyna Gotkowska, Deputy Director of the Centre for Eastern Studies (Poland)
  • Pierre Haroche, Lecturer in International Security, Queen Mary University of London and Associate Research Fellow, Jacques Delors Institute (France)
  • François Heisbourg, Special Adviser for Europe, International Institute for Strategic Studies (Luxembourg)
  • Niklas Helwig, Leading Researcher, Finnish Institute of International Affairs (Finland)
  • Juha Jokela, Director of the EU Programme, Finnish Institute of International Affairs (Finland)
  • Tyyne Karjalainen, Research Fellow, Finnish Institute of International Affairs (Finland)
  • Ronja Kempin, Senior Fellow, German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Germany)
  • Alena Kudzko, Vice President for Policy and Programming, GLOBSEC (Slovakia)
  • Nona Mikhelidze, Senior Fellow, Istituto Affari Internazionali (Italy)
  • Kristi Raik, Deputy Director and Head of the Foreign Policy Programme, International Centre for Defence and Security (Estonia)
  • Benjamin Tallis, Senior Research Fellow, German Council on Foreign Relations (Germany)
  • Élie Tenenbaum, Director of the Security Studies Centre, French Institute of International Relations (France)
  • Nathalie Tocci, Director of the Istituto Affari Internazionali (Italy)
  • Anna Wieslander, Chair of the Institute for Security and Development Policy (Sweden)
  • Pawel Zerka, Senior Policy Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations (Poland)
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