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Russia invaded Ukraine today. This is not how we wanted to start the relaunch of our newly designed Euro Babble website, and we don’t want to add to the countless of pointless posts and articles and profile picture changes that come across less as signs of solidarity and more as politically correct necessities, marketing ploys or attempts at self-aggrandizement. Yet it would be just as wrong to say nothing and pretend like the world is as it was yesterday. It is not. Today carries an air of violent change with it.

The Backstory

War is nothing new and it is untrue that Europe has not seen war in our times. We’ve seen the Yugoslav Wars from 1991-2001, the first Russian aggression against Ukraine in 2014 and the 2016 attempt at a coup d’etat in Turkey to name but a few. Yet today’s calculated and brutal invasion of Ukraine and quick decimation of its defenses is different from everything we have seen in the last 70 years on the continent. While civil wars and internal conflicts have flared up from time to time and Russia has seized parts of Ukraine under the guises of a supposedly democratic referendum, all of these conflicts felt relatively small and isolated. Today was full out warfare, an attack without provocation against a neighbouring sovereign country with the goal of seizing it and its people. And it is not just any attack, Russia, is one of the world’s largest and strongest fighting forces and up until recently has been a member of the G8, the eight most powerful countries in the world, who essentially govern the world together. With its attack on Ukraine in 2014, Russia was suspended from the G8 and later in 2017 it formally withdrew its membership and the G8 became the G7. Perhaps this was the first diplomatic mistake, or perhaps it was simply inevitable, but with Russia’s withdrawal from the G8, Ukraine’s fate was essentially sealed. The uneasy ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine that has lasted several years now was always just that, a ceasefire, a reprieve before the full war would engulf the country.

The invasion was predictable

Vladimir Putin is not stupid. He carefully considered every move he’s made up to this day and planned every part of it. Publishers in Belarus and surrounding countries were threatened and didn’t dare to speak up about the preparations. Telecommunications companies, including foreign ones, such as Austrian A1 were raided by Russian operatives under false pretenses. Slowly, but surely, the fog of war was placed around the conflict zone. Troops and arms were amassed in every border region. Putin learned from the EU sanctions in 2014 and has greatly expanded trade relations with China, which grew by 33.6% in 2021. International sanctions wouldn’t be a deterrent for him anymore. Any outside observer with good sources and half a brain could piece it together: Putin was going to invade. The question was not whether he would do it, but when. When would he be ready? At 2 AM this morning we got our answer.

So why is it, that so many Western European commentators and supposed military experts and advisers display such shock at the invasion? Central and Eastern Europeans have been warning of this for months and even the United States of America have quickly grasped the situation from much farther away and called for evacuations of civilians a week ago. Has Western Europe become too soft and comfortable in its long-lasting peace, that its leaders can no longer fathom that anyone would ever dare to attack them or their allies? And if that is indeed the case, we are in much bigger trouble than we realize.

Appeasement is not the way

Once more our political leaders, as well as seemingly every private company in Europe have rushed to strongly condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with hearty pictures of support and hastily written strongly-worded (but not too strong) press releases and tweets. Worse yet are those, who are only interested in the market crashes or economic impact the war will have on Europe. Is that it? Is all we can do? Talk and talk until the Russian Armed Forces fall asleep from boredom? Or perhaps we are hoping to give them a collective heart attack from the uncontrollable laughter they are having at our expense? The frustration and helpless feeling of powerlessness to do anything about this horrific act of violence runs deep and no amounts of profile picture changes is going to make us truly feel better, not if we really care anyways.

What then is the plan? Economic sanctions? Putin is ready for those. What else have we got in our repertoire? Are we going to simply appease Putin and hope he is not hungry for Poland, Finland or the Baltics? After all, we even have a small Russian enclave in between them since World War II. Surely, Putin would find that excuse enough to search for supposed Nazis in Poland, a country that was one of the main victims of the Nazis, and launch an attack. After all, if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy can be a jew and a supposed Nazi according to Putin, then I guess everyone could be, right? At this point Putin doesn’t even care to put on the charade of following international laws anymore. He is spewing blatant revisionist bullshit on national television to justify his lust for conquest. Meanwhile, the rest of the world lets him be and insists they won’t send military help or even arms to Ukrainian forces, because they might otherwise poke the bear and he’s probably only hungry for one country, right? This morning even, I still heard commentators in the west state they don’t believe Putin wants control of all of Ukraine, just small bits and pieces of it. Oh, sure. That’s totally fine then, right? No need to get involved and prevent further bloodshed, let’s just see how hungry the Russians really are.

History repeats itself

The entire scene feels like a parody of history. Maybe it is just because I watched The Death of Stalin yesterday just before the invasion started. Or perhaps it is because the Allies did the exact same thing on March 12th 1938 when Hitler annexed Austria. “It belongs to him anyway, right? No need to get ourselves dirtied up over that little piece of land.” But Hitler didn’t stop there, now did he? No, he waited for a bit, built up his forces and then marched right into Poland. And then he conquered almost the entirety of Europe if it hadn’t been for the valiant efforts of Russian, American, British and French-African forces. It is ironic that today it is the Russians, who then were celebrated as heroes and liberators, who are now the mad aggressors, hellbent on destruction and domination, just as it had already been the case with the Soviet Union.

Had we had a European army, things might have gone differently. Even without a centralized force, had we all mobilized and stationed troops at the borders to Ukraine (which only a few countries did, too slowly and with few numbers), Putin may not have risked an invasion. But the Western European passivity on the issue ever since 2014 has shown Russian command that Europe is only bluffing and has no real teeth for war. The question is, if this won’t encourage him to go further. Mind you, he will likely stop at Ukraine for now, but in a few years, who knows? Will the EU really hold together if Russia were to invade one of its eastern member states? How would Germany and France really react if Estonia were attacked? Or Poland? After all, relations haven’t been great as of late. There are even payment freezes, essentially sanctions in place. Perhaps the Polish government will finally reconsider its garbage policies if it means safety in numbers, but who knows what goes on in the heads of PiS party officials?

What now?

Putin called the EU’s bluff. Our leaders have no will to fight. We are too busy with ourselves and our own internal conflicts (thanks in large parts to Russian fake news, conspiracy theories, financing of radical populist parties and election tampering). United we are strong, but divided we are ripe for the picking. And if we are too afraid to even show up with troops on the horizon of a conflict next door, who is to say we would actually risk a nuclear war? Wouldn’t it be more likely we’d surrender and allow Russian troops to occupy us instead? After all, a nuclear deterrent is not much more than a bluff. If the enemy does not believe we are ready to obliterate the world before surrendering, then it doesn’t really work as a deterrent, now does it? Russia just pulled a gun on Europe and we blinked. We can only hope the Americans are still willing and able to stare down the Russians, or that Putin really doesn’t want to go further than Ukraine. And if we are indeed spared, then it is our duty to take in as many Ukrainian refugees and offer them a new home here in the EU with us. We have failed to bring the state of Ukraine into the EU and we have failed to as its allies. Now let us not fail in bringing Ukrainian citizens into the EU.

About Post Author

Dominik Kirchdorfer

Dominik is a European writer and entrepreneur of Austrian and Polish descent. His passion is storytelling and he wants to do everything in his power to give the story of Europe a happy ending. He is currently the President of the EFF - European Future Forum, Editor In-Chief of Euro Babble and EU Adviser to the Austrian Savings Banks Association. Dominik recently published his first SciFi novel, The Intrepid Explorer: First Flight under the nome de plume Nik Kirkham. Twitter: @NikKirkham
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By Dominik Kirchdorfer

Dominik is a European writer and entrepreneur of Austrian and Polish descent. His passion is storytelling and he wants to do everything in his power to give the story of Europe a happy ending. He is currently the President of the EFF - European Future Forum, Editor In-Chief of Euro Babble and EU Adviser to the Austrian Savings Banks Association. Dominik recently published his first SciFi novel, The Intrepid Explorer: First Flight under the nome de plume Nik Kirkham. Twitter: @NikKirkham

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