Europe could have criticized the Russian invasion as much as it wanted, it could have called Putin authoritarian as many times as it desired and of course it could (should) have provided even more humanitarian assistance to Ukraine refugees/displaced persons, but its more or less unquestioning acceptance of the role of the USA in Ukraine certainly raises several disturbing questions. This has been particularly disturbing for those who had been regarding Europe as the leading place for reason-based decision making and a deep commitment to a peaceful future for humankind, what appears now increasingly to have been a mistaken assumption.
It is as clear as daylight to anyone who cares to see that while the Russian invasion was wrong, it was provoked in the first place and has been prolonged since then by the USA’s concept of a cruel proxy war that has hardly any concern for the welfare of the people of Ukraine. To mention only the few links of a long and distressing story of duplicity and deceit, there is the glaring violation of the assurances given around 1990 to Gorbachev not to expand NATO eastward by an inch, followed by efforts to ruin Ukraine-Russia relations time and again, followed by the 2014 coup to oust a democratically elected government in Ukraine, followed by strengthening of fascist forces in Ukraine leading to killing of thousands in Donbas, accompanied by sabotaging of Minsk Accords , extremely heavy weapons export to a volatile region and sabotaging of Turkey led peace efforts of March 2022. This and much else (like the push provided by the USA to big agribusiness including notorious GMO companies which went on to buy several hundred thousand acres of land in Ukraine by getting restrictions cancelled, using USA influence) on the part of the USA is highly questionable. This strategy followed by the USA is clearly not based on peace and welfare of the people of Ukraine, it is based on using Ukraine for the main USA objective of weakening and bleeding Russia. This became most obvious when in April 2022 the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (has he ever done anything good?) and US Defense Secretary Austin rushed to Ukraine to destroy the peace proposals facilitated by Turkish diplomats.
Europe is the biggest knowledge hub of the world for many people. It has so many leading scholars of the world and intellectuals of great repute. Surely it is not possible for them to miss these highly objectionable aspects of US policy. But still Europe has more or less unquestionably accepted to follow the USA leadership in the context of Ukraine. Why?
The Nordic countries have been seen by people all over the world as countries of peace, as a strong voice for peace in our world. They have great scholars and intellectuals too with outstanding centers of knowledge and research. But Sweden and Finland too have decided to join the NATO. Can’t they recognize the real character of NATO for what it is, as inherently a force of violence and aggression?
Germany was emerging at one stage as a big force of environment protection and peace, and of providing Europe (or perhaps even the world) leadership in this. But there are already indications that it appears to be using the Ukraine crisis as an opportunity to rapidly re-emerge as a much bigger military power. Such trends being seen in Europe are surely very sad. Reason wounded, hopes belied– as many people both inside and outside Europe who cherish peace would agree.
The most irrational part of the USA foreign policy is to be permanently hostile towards Russia. Why should Europe accept this? Give Russia a reasonable place in European security and economy—not a position of dominance but a position of dignity and equality—and benefit from its enormous resources and other important assets, also helping and encouraging it to be more democratic, without any undue interference in its internal affairs. In the case of Ukraine, clearly the best policy for Ukraine is to be neutral in Russia/USA rivalry, and to try to leave peacefully with its much bigger and more powerful neighbor, instead of fighting a prolonged and destructive war just to satisfy the USA? Efforts of Europe should be for working towards a peaceful settlement between Ukraine and Russia, not for prolonging a highly destructive war which also has the possibility of becoming a nuclear war and occurrence of nuclear accidents which will certainly harm other parts of Europe as well. The other adverse effects like inflation, high economic costs and energy crunch (which will of course be accentuated greatly in the case of a harsh winter) are already so apparent that no repetition is needed.
In a nutshell, the story so far is that in the context of its Ukraine policy the USA has asked various countries of Europe including Russia to inflict great harm on each other and they have unquestioningly agreed! The proper response of Europe should have been to help the forces of peace within the USA by raising important questions, but it has failed to do so.
It is still not too late for Europe to correct serious mistakes and the forces of peace in Europe should assert themselves in a big way, despite all adverse factors, for this, maintaining and increasing close contacts with the forces of peace in the USA as well.
Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, A Day in 2071 and Protecting Earth for Children.