Putin on the pressure: Europe’s response to Russia

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine’s president, plead for peace in an address this morning.

It finally happened. In the early hours of the 24th of February, Russia began an attempted invasion of Ukraine. Everyone is acting surprised, but the warning signs were clearly there. Armed Russian troops had been mobilising near the Ukrainian border for months, and then Putin recognised the independent regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, before sending peacekeepers into those regions on the 21st of February. It is also no secret that Putin is not afraid of a bit of brutality. The warning signs were clearly available to European nations, which begs the question, why didn’t they prevent it?

In an extraordinary address to the nation, French President Emmanuel Macron described Russia’s attack as ‘deliberate’ and condemned it in very strong terms. It’s interesting to note, too, that Macron’s address today was the first time in history that a French President has addressed the nation with the flag of a sovereign nation in the background.

French president Emmanuel Macron was one of many world leaders to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The UK’s Boris Johnson gave an address similar in sentiment, but less substantial, addressing the Russian and Ukrainian people directly, alongside the British public. Echoing these sentiments, the leader of the British Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, gave his own address, in which he urged those who ‘believe in democracy over dictatorship’ to band together to ‘ensure Putin fails’.

PM Boris Johnson (left) and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (right) were united in their condemnation of Russia’s aggression.

Likewise, world leaders have condemned Russia’s invasion of a sovereign state, and urging cooperation against Russia’s aggression.

There were also, however, some states supporting Russia. Venezuela’s (disputed) president, Nicolás Maduro, spoke in support of Russia. Within Europe, Belarus has been accused of assisting Russia and attacking their border with Ukraine.

The UK, EU, US, and other states, announced sanctions that they proclaimed would halt Russia in its tracks. In reality, these sanctions had absolutely zero impact at all. The UK’s sanctions, especially weak, only involved a handful of individuals, and five Russian banks. Yes, you read that right, five. Germany, on the other hand, proposed something that may genuinely affect Russia’s economy: they’re halting Nord Stream 2.

Why is this particular sanction so serious? Because Russia has exerted a lot of influence over Europe because of its oil and gas supplies, which European nations have become reliant on. Yet, there is a slight issue; namely, why not restrict trade that Russia currently does, as opposed to trade that it merely plans to do? There seems to be a Europe-wide push for Russia to undergo much harsher economic sanctions, and some countries have imposed such actions. It all seems to be too little too late though: did Europe not learn the lessons after the invasion of Crimea? Will Europe, and the international community more broadly, ever learn from their mistakes?

Originally published to Blasting News

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Journalist, writer and speechwriter specialising in politics, international relations and economics. Contributor at Blasting News, and writer at Scripted.

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Ben Williams

Ben Williams

Journalist, writer and speechwriter specialising in politics, international relations and economics. Contributor at Blasting News, and writer at Scripted.

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