Europe is making once-unimaginable decisions to counter Putin's aggression

Aktual Indonesia - Whatever the ultimate outcome of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin has succeeded in one thing: the security map of Europe has been fundamentally altered and things will never return to the way they were before.

Across the continent, and most notably within the European Union, decisions have been taken that would have been unthinkable just a few weeks ago. In the space of a few days, Brussels went further in its quest to become a geopolitical power in its own right than it had in decades.

The shock of war returning to the continent has unified the EU's 27 member states, as the bloc approved not only the strongest package of sanctions it has ever imposed, but also agreed to buy and supply weapons to the Ukrainians.

Historically, the bloc has been divided over exactly how much central control Brussels should have over foreign policy. This has stood in the way of the EU's lofty global ambitions, as policy proposals were watered down in negotiations or simply vetoed. And according to research by the UK House of Parliament, the vast majority of EU member states that are also members of NATO have not hit their 2% defense spending target for well over a decade.

"The crisis in Ukraine has shattered the illusion that security and stability in Europe comes for free," one senior European diplomat told CNN. "When there was no real threat, geopolitics seemed remote. Now there is a war on our border. Now we know we have to pay up and act together."

A woman walks past a tent displaying the European Union and Ukrainian flags in Independence Square on January 28, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine.

It isn't just Putin's aggression that has woken Europe from its slumber. The diplomat explained that in conversations with counterparts, officials had taken note of the lead that US President Joe Biden has taken in coordinating the West's response.

"A big fear in European capitals: what would have happened if Biden wasn't in the White House at the moment? No one seriously believes that Trump would have handled this well and we may have him or someone like him back in a couple of years. Effectively, that means we have to assume we are alone," the diplomat added.

Perhaps the most significant and symbolic shift in the past few days came from Germany. The EU's wealthiest and arguably most powerful member state announced it will more than double its defense spending, with its 2022 military budget expected to stand at $100 billion.

Not long ago, most German politicians -- and a number of politicians across Europe -- were uncomfortable with the idea of the country having a large military presence for obvious historical reasons.

Again, the situation in Ukraine has changed everything.

"Based on the conversations of the last few days, most European leaders now seem comfortable with a massive German army if its anchored firmly within the EU," the diplomat says, pointing out that only a few months ago even putting the words EU and army in the same sentence would spark outrage in most of Europe's capitals.

A cynic might think that Europe's unity and decisiveness has only come about because of a unique crisis and once-in-a-generation threat to the continent's security.

However, multiple European and NATO officials told CNN that there is no outcome in which Europe can simply go back to how things were.

Lebih baru Lebih lama