Unity is beginning to break in Europe
NATO and the European Union have so far been surprisingly united in their support for Ukraine, both with painful economic sanctions against Russia and in supplying Ukraine with an increasing amount of weapons, but no fighter jets or advanced tanks.
But that unit is under pressure. Hungary, which has backed five previous sanctions packages, has opposed an embargo on Russian oil on which it depends. And the Europeans aren’t even trying, at least for now, to cut off their imports of Russian gas.
The division is also visible in war goals.
Leaders in Central and Eastern Europe, with their long experience of Soviet rule, have strong views on defeating Russia and even reject the idea of speaking with Putin. The Prime Minister of Estonia, Kaja Kallas, and the Prime Minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki, speak of him as a war criminal, as does Mr Biden.
“All these events should wake us from our geopolitical slumber and cause us to throw off our delusions, our old delusions, but is that enough?” said Mr Morawiecki last week. “I hear there are attempts to somehow get Putin to save face in the international arena. But how can you save something that is totally deformed?” he asked.
But France, Italy and Germany, the largest and wealthiest countries in the bloc, are worried about a long war or one ending in stalemate, and nervous about the potential damage to their own economies.
Those countries also see Russia as an inescapable neighbor that cannot be isolated forever. After his re-election, Emmanuel Macron of France began hedging his bets, declaring that a future peace in Eastern Europe should not involve unnecessary humiliation of Russia, and could involve territorial concessions to Moscow.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi this month called for a ceasefire in Ukraine “as soon as possible” to allow for a negotiated end to the war. Draghi, who has taken a hard line against Russia in traditionally Moscow-friendly Italy, said economic pressures were important “because we need to get Moscow to the negotiating table.”