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Europe, the moment of truth

An existential challenge

[This editorial is also available in Ukrainian.]

There is no equivalent to the European Union.
It attracts people, and all of its neighbours want to join. It has made an unprecedented contribution to the recovery of Europe after 1945 and also after 1991. Its contribution to the nations of Europe has exceeded the expectations of its founders. They boast an enviable rule of law, unhoped-for prosperity and unrivalled stability. Its methods have therefore worked beyond expectations, but it now faces an entirely different challenge. An existential one.

A large neighbour, which has constantly fought against it but to no avail, now wants it to disappear and, above all, to be subjugated. Using hybrid means and irrational propaganda reminiscent in its arguments and methods of the most sinister periods in the continent's history, Putin's Russia has declared itself the enemy of the West and of Europe. Europeans must recognise that this is now the case.

Russia is challenging us. Its questioning of Europe's borders is a direct threat to us.

Its revisionist and expansionist vision of its influence is a blatant aggression that has no reason to stop.  Its attacks are growing in number and intensity, and its blatant interference in our debates is designed to weaken us by discrediting the moderates and stirring up the extremes. Every Member State of the European Union is therefore entitled to consider that its own national security is now at risk.

Europe's response so far has been very wise: it does not want to provoke a direct conflict that would spread very quickly and become global. But has it not been too cautious? Russia's actions are a direct attack on our businesses and governments. In Ukraine, they are using rape, torture and repression as they did in the worst moments of the dictatorships of the previous century, as shown by the fate of Alexeï Navalny.

It must be made clear to Putin that Europe will not allow him to continue his abuses and that it has the means to oppose his misdeeds.

Even if their great Atlantic ally were to weaken, the Europeans must now set about offering a strong response to developments in Ukraine. They have the means to do so.

Demonstrating their shared determination requires massive support for the Ukrainians and Moldovans, who we see as "the defence of the front". This support must be military, financial and human. Our defence spending needs to be increased, in closer coordination with our fellow Europeans.

We must invest massively in our security, even if it means sacrificing the comfort of generous social systems. The war economy must mobilise the whole of European society.

And why not solemnly reaffirm through a declaration, an agreement or a treaty between European states, including the United Kingdom, that the signatories are once again committed to mutual defence and protection?

This requires new European developments. Our treaties, our commitments, our policies and our decision-making methods must be reviewed in the light of this new threat to our own security.

We now need to rearm ourselves so that we are ready to fight, if necessary, as the only way to avoid having to do so and to guarantee peace.