European security

Will The War Come to Us?  It’s Up to The West

The Russian-Ukrainian war may be a prelude to a bigger conflict if the West does not seize the chance to weaken Russia.

Justyna Gotkowska, deputy director at the Warsaw-based Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW).
Justyna Gotkowska, deputy director at the Warsaw-based Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW).Sławek Kamiński

The stakes are increasing as we enter the third year of Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine. Moscow thinks it can win. Ukraine is still willing to fight. But Western resolve is dwindling. Various scenarios for the end of the conflict are on the table. It is up to the West to choose one of them.

Not everyone in Europe understands that the continent’s security depends on the outcome of the war. However, Europe has entered a highly volatile and unpredictable era with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This means that direct conflict with Moscow cannot be excluded in the future. US political developments, with the result of dwindling support for Kyiv, raise the possibility of worst-case scenarios. More than ever, Europe needs to draw its conclusions and speed up military investments.

„Europe cannot afford the time and money to build new structures and turn the Union into a military alliance.“

Justyna Gotkowska

After two years of fighting, Russia believes it is possible to win the war against Ukraine. The Kremlin assumes that war fatigue in the West is growing and the support for Ukraine will be decreasing. Vladimir Putin is convinced that the Russian economy can maintain its war effort despite Western sanctions through reorientation towards the Global South and China. In Moscow’s view, the crisis in the West might bring to power politicians unwilling to substantially support Ukraine, and growing war weariness among Ukrainians will lead to their readiness to accept unfavourable peace conditions. Putin thinks that the war of attrition will lead to Russia dictating conditions for peace that will amount to a de-facto Ukrainian surrender: acknowledging the annexation of Ukrainian territories, abandoning Ukraine’s integration with the EU and NATO, and installing a pro-Russian government in Kyiv. 

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