Russia's war on Ukraine “existential threat” to Europe - Borrell

Russia's war on Ukraine “existential threat” to Europe - Borrell

Russia's full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine returned territorial threats to Europe and forced the EU to put defense at the center of its own security policy. The ongoing war against Ukraine poses an existential threat to the entire European Union.

That’s according to EU High Representative Josep Borrell, who posted a blog entry on the website of the European External Action Service, commenting on the release of his new book, "Europe between 2 wars".

"With the war of aggression that Russia is waging against Ukraine, we saw the return of territorial rivalries and the use of violent military force in Europe that we had intellectually dismissed. At a time when American involvement in Europe is becoming less certain, this war poses an existential threat to the EU," said the top EU diplomat.

"If Putin manages to destroy the independence of Ukraine, he will not stop there. If he prevails – despite clear support for Ukraine by Europeans and the US public – this sends a dangerous signal about our capacity to stand up for what we believe in," added Josep Borrell.

Read also: Borrell: Words alone will not stop Putin. We must deliver more military support

He noted that the EU faced the need to change the entire paradigm of European defense. The common market and trade have worked well to brnig peace between the states that are part of the EU, but these tools are no longer enough to guarantee external security. For too long, Europeans have delegated their own security to the US, and at least for the past 30 years, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, have allowed a "silent disarmament."

"We must assume our strategic responsibility and become able to defend Europe by ourselves, building a strong European pillar inside NATO. And we need to make this leap forward in a very short period of time. Not because we intend to go to war. On the contrary: we want to prevent it by having the means to credibly deter any aggressor," the EU High Representative emphasized.

Read also: Assistance to Ukraine is still limited, Russia still has access to missile components – President

He separately stressed that such efforts do not mean creating a European army. Defense is and will remain for a foreseeable future an exclusive competence of EU member states. But such a paradigm shift implies an increase in defense spending at the national level for each of the EU members. The average amount of such expenses across the EU in 2023 stands at 1.7 percent of GDP. To achieve the goal, this percentage must increase to more than 2 percent.

At the same time, European countries must start spending together to fill gaps, avoid duplications and increase interoperability. According to Borrell, today European armies purchase cooperatively only 18 percent of military equipment. Although the EU member states set a benchmark of at least 35 percent for such collective procurement back in 2007.

"We also urgently need a leap forward for our defence industry. Since the beginning of the war against Ukraine, European armies bought 78% of new equipment from outside the EU. We have made important progress in recent months, but we still have difficulties in sending enough ammunitions to support Ukraine. Additionally, we face significant qualitative challenges in new military technologies like drones or Artificial Intelligence. One major lesson of the war against Ukraine is that technological superiority is key. Especially when faced with an adversary for whom lives are cheap. We need to have a home-grown defence industry to meet our needs," said the High Representative.

As Ukrinform reported earlier, a few days ago during a speech at the Nueva Economia Forum, Josep Borrell expressed his belief that after Russia unleashed its war in Ukraine, the EU entered the third stage of its own formation, which is about creating its own defense and security system, with a strengthening of the EU's role in collective security under NATO auspices.


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