Ukraine war as Putin’s ‘true weakness’ exposed President Macron’s EU army folly

Putin ‘shot himself in the foot’ with Nordic NATO applications

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In March, Mr Macron said the EU could not rely on NATO for protection, speaking just days after the start of Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine. However, since then, Sweden and Finland have formally declared their interest in joining the military bloc.

Simon Heffer, historian and professorial research fellow at the University of Buckingham, said “the conflict in Ukraine has become such a debacle for Vladimir Putin – whose sole responsibility it is – has surprised many in the West”.

As a result, he suggested support for NATO has grown in Europe, and pointed to Sweden and Finland both declaring their plans to join the military pact.

He said: “Two points have clearly emerged from this change in policy: that civilised Western countries such as Finland and Sweden have had to accept that with a neighbour as brutal, reckless and criminal as Russia, neutrality is no longer an option; and that the EU, of which both are members, is simply not an adequate shield or protection for their national interests or – more to the point – their peaceful and democratic way of life.

“The formal decisions for both nations to join are likely to be made this week, and will constitute a further humiliation for Putin.”

Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Heffer said the fact “Finland and Sweden should embrace NATO now, rather than looking to the EU for security, shows also what a failure the Ukraine war is proving for the EU” and Mr Macron’s plans for an EU army.

Earlier this year, the French President said Europe had to accept it must “pay the price for peace”, and said the EU must move towards the creation of an army.

Speaking to the outlet, Mr Heffer said: “It has confirmed what many around the continent have recognised for years, but what Brussels and the more fanatical of the pro-Europeans in some member states have chosen to pretend is not the case: that, like Russia, the bloc is experiencing its own decline, and like the old Soviet Union when it started to crack in 1989, it is suffering from growing disunity.

“The aspirations of the EU to act in the military defence of its member states are largely meaningless, and the Finns and Swedes know it.”

Mr Heffer added: “NATO has seized the initiative in recent weeks, while Macron and the diminishing number who, like him, think the EU is a global force, have been desperately trying to catch up.

“Most of his fellow leaders have wisely kept their mouths shut. He, though, sought to give new meaning to this failing institution by offering a new vision for Europe in Strasbourg last week: a vision of concentric circles, an outer ring enabling the EU to have a relationship with Ukraine.”

In Strasbourg on Europe Day, Mr Macron proposed a new “European political community,” which would include both members and non-members of the EU, to the European Parliament.

The French President said the “legitimate aspiration” of the people of Ukraine, “like those of Moldova and Georgia, to join the European Union, invites us to rethink our geography and the organization of our continent”.

It comes after Sweden confirmed on Monday it intended to apply for membership of NATO, joining neighbouring Finland, for security.

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said: “This is the best thing for the security of Sweden and its people.

“We are leaving one era behind us and entering a new one.”


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Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, said Finland and Sweden “should have no illusions that we will simply put up with” the pair joining NATO.

He called the move “another grave mistake with far-reaching consequences” and warned the “general level of military tension will increase”.

Putin however said Moscow did not see Finnish and Swedish Nato membership as a direct threat in itself.

He added: “Russia has no problem with these states – none. And so in this sense there is no immediate threat to Russia from an expansion of NATO to include these countries.”

He did also warn deployment of military infrastructure on their territories “would certainly provoke our response”.

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