August 1, 2014
Brattberg: Europe's Real Test
After much denial and dithering around over the past few months, European Union leaders finally stepped up to the plate and took more decisive action against Moscow on Tuesday in the form of sector-wide economic sanctions. These efforts were long overdue and short of what’s really necessary. For example, they don’t encompass Russian oligarchs or the French Mistral warships. But it is still a welcome sign that Europeans are finally beginning to wake up.
After the tragic crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, it’s simply no longer possible for Europeans to deny the seriousness of the conflict at hand and the threat that Russian President Vladimir Putin constitutes to the post-Cold War European security order. The incident serves as a chilling reminder that Ukraine is not just a low-intensity conflict in some faraway place, but an armed insurrection sponsored by Russia at Europe’s immediate doorstep.
EU leaders will now surely pat themselves on their backs and congratulate each other for their rare display of unity and strategic resolve – albeit only after some 200 EU citizens were killed and under heavy pressure from Washington. But it’s important to remember that the incremental sanctions approach pursued up until now has done little to change Putin’s overall calculus in Ukraine.