Mateusz Morawiecki

War in Ukraine has exposed the truth about Europe

How did the EU allow itself to be caught out by the rise of Russian imperialism?

(Credit: Getty images)

The war in Ukraine has exposed the truth about Russia. Many refused to see that Vladimir Putin’s state still has imperialist tendencies. Now they have to face the fact that, in Russia, the demons of the 19th and 20th centuries have been revived: nationalism, colonialism, and totalitarianism. But the war in Ukraine has also exposed the truth about Europe. European leaders allowed themselves to be lured by Vladimir Putin. In the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine, they are in shock.

Yet the return of Russian imperialism should come as no surprise. Russia had been rebuilding its position slowly for almost two decades, right under the nose of the West. Instead of maintaining reasonable vigilance, the West responded by going into a geopolitical slumber. It preferred not to see the problem rather than face it in advance.

Europe today is in the situation it finds itself in, not because it was insufficiently integrated, but because it refused to listen to the voice of truth. That voice has been coming from Poland for many years. Poland has no monopoly on the truth, but in matters of relations with Russia we are, put simply, far more experienced than others. Poland’s president Lech Kaczynski was right. Like Cassandra foreseeing the fall of Troy, he said many years ago that Russia would not stop at Georgia and would reach for more. No one listened.

The fact that Poland’s voice has been ignored is an example of the broader problem that the EU is struggling with. Each country is meant to be equal, but political practice has shown that the voices of Germany and France counts above all else. As a result, we are dealing with a formal democracy and a de facto oligarchy, where power is held by the strongest. 

The safety valve that protects the EU from the tyranny of the majority is the principle of unanimity.

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