How has the war altered roles in Europe?

It will soon be one full year since the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine began. In Europe’s press, many journalists and analysts are already looking back at how this war has changed Europe and the world. Today’s debate focuses on how the position of individual states within the various power structures and alliances has shifted — and why.

Polityka (PL) /

Germany’s world view in ruins

Writing in Polityka, political scientist Piotr Buras comments on the background to Germany’s much-discussed turnaround:

“The world order that had emerged after the Cold War was a perfect fit for the political culture of the German Federal Republic. At least that’s how it seemed. ... Liberal democracy, pacifism, the social market economy, openness, the secondary role of the military — all of this was tailor-made for ‘the end of history’ in which interdependence was to dominate permanently. Precisely through trade and exchange, countries like Russia or China were to sooner or later adopt the values and mechanisms of the open market and democracy. ... In this world view, everything fitted like a glove and Germany moved stormily ahead. Until 24 February 2022.”

Piotr Buras
Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Poland unable to make its growing clout felt

Poland is squandering a historic opportunity, journalist and political commentator Eugeniusz Smolar insists:

“Poland has gained importance as a hub for Ukraine, but the current government’s conflicts with EU institutions and the vast majority of member state governments deprive Warsaw of the authority necessary to effectively influence the future course of the entire West. This is the real drama of Polish foreign policy in 2023.”

Eugeniusz Smolar
Népszava (HU) /

Orbán has failed to identify his real enemies

The Hungarian government is sticking to its pro-Russian stance, Népszava writes:

“Ukraine is the breakwater against the Russian tide, and Nato is the rock behind it. ... In this context it is either a suicidal lemming policy or plain treason for Hungary to pursue a pro-Russian policy that hinders Ukraine’s defensive war . ... Perhaps by now even the prime minister has understood that Putin is as much our ‘friend’ today as Hitler was in times gone by. Perhaps he will learn from the mistakes of his predecessors and pull out of the Russian troika in time. It would be nice to believe that. However, there is not a single indication of this being the case so far.”

Zoltán Batka (RU) /

Putin’s imperial dreams are in tatters

The war will continue but it has already produced one positive outcome, comments Ukrainian journalist Vitali Portnikov on

“We are only at the beginning of a difficult process, and no one, not even the most diehard optimists, can see even a tiny glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. But as a result of the of the Ukrainian people’s heroic resistance to Russian aggression we have what counts most: the tunnel itself. We now know that no matter what else Putin does, he will not be able to rebuild the Russian Empire. ... Yes, there will still be war — a brutal, long, terrible, relentless war. But there will be no empire.”

Vitali Portnikov