Europe’s dithering on Ukraine may be the final nail in coffin for the EU

There isn’t a lot that makes me proud to be British these days. Neither the country nor its people are what they once were; the… Read More »

Europe’s dithering on Ukraine may be the final nail in coffin for the EU

There isn’t a lot that makes me proud to be British these days. Neither the country nor its people are what they once were; the former is mired by incompetent politicians who make their former Soviet counterparts look almost like professionals, while I’ve found the latter have become – I regret to say – incessantly inward-looking, crippled by political correctness and corporate culture, and (worst of all) insufferably boring. 

However, I will confess to recently feeling just a tingle of that old satisfaction that comes from being an Englishman, that curious pride in achievements I had nothing to do with. With Britain supplying weapons to the Ukrainians and sending troops to show them which bits go bang, I caught just an echo of that once great nation which I had looked Napoleon, the Kaiser, Hitler and Galtieri in the eye and said ‘No’. 

Alright, you may well argue Boris Johnson is no Palmerston or Churchill, and that in suddenly becoming a staunch defender of Ukrainian democracy in the face of Russian aggression he is also conveniently creating excuses to zip around Europe and not have to answer awkward questions about his fitness for leadership in London, but still, the point stands – he’s doing more for Ukraine than the EU.

The EU’s dithering indecision and contradictory stance on Ukraine and Russia create an even stronger argument than the vaccine debacle that Brexit may have actually been for the best. The ongoing crisis has shown that it fundamentally just doesn’t work; in an organisation with the word ‘Union’ in the name, you cannot have responses as disparate as exasperated indifference, Russian collusion, and demands that Moscow be seen as an existential threat. 

Still, I can’t quite decide which leaves a worse taste in the mouth; Germany’s selfishness in making sure that oligarchs are still able to buy luxury cars at the price of Ukrainian sovereignty, or Hungary’s willing endorsement of the Kremlin’s justifications. If I were forced to choose, I’d probably put Germany’s placatory noises towards Moscow as the greater sin – at least Viktor Orban is a known quantity, and his cosying up to Putin is in keeping with his past actions and rhetoric. Certainly, allegations of Russophilia in Berlin do not appear to be completely lacking a foundation, judging both on prior form and on Berlin’s recent actions. 

Though it isn’t fashionable to say so, the EU – and NATO – have simply become too large, with too many differing ideas over culture, economics, and geopolitics (in the former category, the EU is digging its own grave, as witness its stupidity by playing into the far-right narrative of spreading ‘LGBT propaganda’ in member countries like Hungary and the aspirant Georgia). 

It must also be considered that just about everything that’s happened so far suits the Russians down to the ground. They’re crafty fellows, those Muscovites, and every clumsy EU statement just plays further into their hands. European disunity is something they’d like almost as much as a slice of Ukrainian land, and as obviously embarrassing as it is to have declarations coming from European capitals that are all at opposite ends of the political pentangle, even displays from the British of how helpful they’re able to be outside of the EU suits Moscow well enough. Disagreement sows disunity. 

The EU isn’t something I expect to last much longer. I’ve wondered about its viability even before the Brexit vote; on one side we have soulless leftists endlessly banging on about ‘European unity’ and laughable concepts like a European Army, and further east we have countries that feel as though their independence and cultural identity are being slowly eroded in order to be supplanted by Western ideals. And this was all before the current episode with the Russians. 

If Brexit and the migrant crisis together marked the beginning of the end for the European Union, Ukraine has surely been the final nail in the conceptual coffin. Doubtless, it will stagger on for another decade or two until, eventually, it becomes the sort of project that future historians (assuming there are any to give an honest enough account in a European language, anyway) will judge as an interesting idea doomed to fail.