The European Union surprised the world—and itself—with its unified response after Vladimir Putin ordered his tanks into Ukraine on February 24th. Unprecedented sanctions and new security policies swiftly appeared. But as the war grinds into its second month and Russian missiles and shells continue to rain down on Ukrainian cities, European resolve has begun to wane. That is the stark assessment of Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister. “What we saw in the beginning of the war was the rise of the European Union as a powerful player that can bring change,” Mr Kuleba told The Economist. “What I see in the last ten days in the European Union is backsliding back to its normality where it cannot decide on strong and swift action.”
Mr Kuleba’s remarks were made on March 22nd by video link from an undisclosed location inside Ukraine. He highlighted two trials facing his country: Russian aggression on one side, and Western hesitancy on the other. The stakes remain as existential as ever, despite Russia’s initial setbacks on the battlefield. Russia’s shelling rings louder than its words. “There is no correlation between diplomatic dynamics and the dynamics on the battlefield,” Mr Kuleba said. Ukraine’s ability to prevail against its larger neighbour rests on three pillars, he argues: Ukrainian stamina, weapons supplies and Western sanctions. “We always realised that there would be no country fighting shoulder to shoulder with us, that it would be the cross that we have to bear. But to help us, countries can do two things: send us necessary weapons and impose sanctions.”
Western sanctions have already made an impact. “Almost every tenth sentence [Russian negotiators] say is about sanctions,” Mr Kuleba said. “It’s a pain for them.” But not yet painful enough. Many of the toughest-seeming measures have turned out to be what the minister calls “half-measures”.
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After a strong start the EU has slid “back to its normality where it cannot decide on strong and swift action”, Ukraine’s foreign minister says https://t.co/XzRfuRIuJb
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) March 22, 2022