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Ukraine-Europe: their fate is ours too

[This editorial is also available in Ukrainian.]

Are Europeans really aware of what is at stake in Ukraine?

Those who suffered under Soviet totalitarianism know this instinctively: Russia has always sought to expand its territory, even though it is the largest of all nations. It seeks in expansion to conceal its internal miseries.

Having aggravated these internal dysfunctions by misappropriating its wealth, Putin needs, more than others, nationalistic and expansionist successes. In the absence of a serious political project, he has turned to the outside world, even though the latter is not very aggressive, and is taking the whole of international life hostage by bringing war and its horrors, torture, rape and theft back into the news on the continent.

Europe is the first to be challenged.

Those who had the good fortune, at the end of the Second World War, to fall "on the right side" of the Iron Curtain, thanks to Churchill and Roosevelt, have become more distant from the black soil of Ukraine. This is the case of the "big countries" of Western Europe, Germany, France and Italy. Some of them even went so far as to say that "it's not their war".

This partly explains the cautious and defensive posture adopted by Europe. It is true that it is modelled on that of the Americans who, from the start of the conflict, warned that they would not intervene. But they are not Ukraine's neighbours, Europe is.

It is also true that the Europeans did not equip themselves with the military means that would have enabled them - alone and independently - to prevent Russian aggression. Let those who opposed it so fiercely in the past render an act of contrition!

But, even more seriously, this behaviour is the result of an error of analysis:

Is it tenable to not want to "be at war with Putin's Russia", which declares itself to be at war with the "collective West"?

Is it sustainable to be only on the defensive to the point of wanting - as NATO suggests - to have only an anti-missile shield?

Is it honourable to prefer "proxy war" at the cost of so much misery and destruction, but "not at home"?

Is it reasonable to spend so much time anticipating the outcome of the current conflict, imagining that one day you will be a conciliator with the one who has broken all the rules? Winston Churchill once said: "A conciliator is someone who feeds a crocodile in the hope that it will be the last to be eaten".

If they do not want to be "eaten" in the end, the Europeans have no right to be complacent. War has been declared on them. They are at war. If they do not want to recognise this and act accordingly, they will lose both their independence and their honour.

Let there be no doubt, the fate of Ukraine is ours. In this war, it is wise to be moderate for two; but in the face of what is truly a barbarism that challenges our way of life and thought, our democracy and our freedoms, Europe must defend itself more vigorously and even more collectively. It will not escape this challenge or this conflict. The longer it takes, the more difficult it will be.