Sometimes, a big strategic shock can prevent decades of atrophy. And when shocks come, they can hardly be bigger than Putin’s invasion Ukraine in the past six days.
In the midst of all the crushing defeats since then two things have happened: the EU ended its 65-year taboo on supplying weapons for war, and Germany tripled its defense spending and decided to pour weapons into Ukraine.
These will be seen as two watershed moments that are likely to shake up the European Union’s efforts to forge a true common defense policy after decades of minimal movement.
As usual, when change happened, it was on a massive scale. The EU is spending 450 million euros on Ukrainian armaments – including fighter jets.
“Another taboo has fallen. The taboo is that the EU does not supply weapons in a war, yes we are doing that. This war requires our participation in support of the Ukrainian army,” summarized EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
Ireland, and the other militarily neutral EU countries, Austria and Malta, will contribute non-lethal aid. But the change in EU policy direction will soon launch a full Irish debate about military neutrality. Ireland “constructively abstained” to allow the decision to pass. Stand with Ireland’s neutral supporters to lament what happened at the EU ministerial meeting on Ukraine. Also listen to those who would argue that in a situation like Russia’s outrage in Ukraine, Ireland’s military neutrality is dangerously inappropriate.
Back in 1995 when three militarily neutral countries – Sweden, Finland and Austria – joined the EU, Irish officials in Brussels quietly pointed out that Ireland was no longer so isolated in its non-aligned stance me. But the reality is that other factors have slowed some people’s ambitious plans for a more all-blood EU defense alliance.
The so-called “Atlanticists” – including Britain, Portugal and others – see the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato) as a real, built defensive alliance. built around the United States and included other key allies such as Turkey. The economic powerhouse of the EU, Germany, doesn’t care much about military might, in part due to dark historical reasons that we don’t need to work here.
The reluctance of the majority of Irish politicians to engage in a major debate about the EU’s defense plans is partly related to the fear that Ireland’s dubious neutrality is a kind of negative for the EU. with many citizens.
When the EU Nice was rejected in 2001 and the EU’s Lisbon Treaty suffered a similar fate in 2008, the issue of the dreaded erosion of Irish neutrality was a factor. The EU’s assurances on the matter helped reverse those two losses in subsequent referendums.
The EU move, announced late on Sunday, was reflected by a change in Germany’s maritime defense policy that same day. The new prime minister, Olaf Scholz, has no doubt that 100,000 people are protesting in Berlin in support of Ukraine.
He also knew that German generals had bluntly warned that their troops were “the thread”. Scholz announced an immediate €100 billion investment in the military, weapons and defense industries, and pledged to meet NATO’s defense spending target of 2 percent of GDP by the end of 2024.
Germany’s change comes with plans to reverse a ban on arms supplies to Ukraine, with missiles, vehicles and fuel to be shipped via Poland. “The question is whether we allow Putin to turn back the clock or do we mobilize power to set boundaries for fans like Putin,” Scholz said at the special session on Sunday. Congressional.
Germany’s change of course will inevitably lead to more links in terms of military and arms cooperation with France. If Emmanuel Macron is re-elected president of France next month, it seems likely that the pace of EU defense cooperation will pick up.
Notably, the position of two other EU-neutral states, Sweden and Finland, has focused the government’s mind on their two capitals. Both countries have been involved in efforts to help arm Ukraine.
Macron is among those who feel that the EU must be stronger and less directly dependent on the US in the defense sector. Like-minded people have pointed out that Washington in recent years has been less interested in Europe and more inclined towards Asian countries while occupied with China’s dramatic rise globally.
Experiences such as the war in the Balkans in the 1990s, after the breakup of Yugoslavia, show that US military capabilities are essential. Others argue that a better organized European defense could be a more reliable and active defensive ally for the United States.
Two of the EU’s 27 countries are members of NATO, and Europe’s combined army of 1.2 million troops closely resembles that of the United States.
1.4 million employees. But the US has standardized equipment and command structures that cannot be said of European forces, and nothing can compare with the power and equipment of the US air force.
Putin’s reprehensible foray into Ukraine has changed many things, many times disrupting European peace. It now looks set to change EU defense cooperation – whether Ireland likes it or not.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/eu-decision-to-help-arm-ukraine-in-war-will-spark-irish-debate-on-military-neutrality-41396616.html EU decision to help arm Ukraine in war will spark Irish debate over military neutrality