(Ecnmst) New Europe is as divided about Russia as old Europe, with bad consequences for all

The lands lying between the Baltic and the Black Sea have had many names: the “bloodlands” of the second world war, the “captive nations” of the cold war, the “ex-communist” countries of the post-Soviet era and, for many, the “new members” of the European Union. Before the 2003 Iraq war, Donald Rumsfeld, America’s defence secretary, praised “new Europe” as pro-American, unlike “old Europe” (ie, France and Germany). The French president, Jacques Chirac, then chided the easterners as having “missed a great opportunity to keep quiet”.

The nomenclature must now change again, because of Ukraine. In its response to Vladimir Putin’s revanchism, Mr Rumsfeld’s new Europe is remarkably similar to the old one: divided roughly between north and south. Poland and the Baltic three are hawkish, believing that Russia has irrevocably changed the post-war order; Bulgaria and Hungary are among those opposed to tough sanctions who hope that business with Russia will somehow return to normal.

This spectrum might be a welcome sign of normality, if only the stakes were not so high. The divisions of eastern Europe aggravate those of the EU as a whole. Nobody tells easterners to shut up any more; even France is wooing them. But if the countries closest to Russia, with direct experience of Soviet occupation, cannot agree on sanctions, why should others endanger their still-fragile economies?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine, Violence

One comment on “(Ecnmst) New Europe is as divided about Russia as old Europe, with bad consequences for all

  1. sandlapper says:

    Thoughtful observations, but stepping back to look at the larger picture, I think US policy toward Russia has been misguided for at least 20 years. NATO has been pushed eastward right up to the borders of Russia, and the US has generally tried to keep Russia as an adversary. If some adversarial foreign power coalition had pushed their sphere of influence into the Caribbean, the US response would have been about the same as Russia’s has been, if not more hostile as happened in the Cuban Missile Crisis. It is significant that the Russian people (not just Ronald Reagan) were primarily responsible for the demise of the Soviet Union. They have also made a substantial effort to return to their Christian heritage after the 70 years of atheist rule, and they are paying a substantial price in blood in fighting Islamic fanatics in their part of the world. I have no quarrel with the Russian people, and I wish our government would lay off the threats and self-righteous rhetoric about Putin.