Putin the Great

One day, monuments to Vladimir Putin may stand in Russian cities, bearing the inscription: “The man who returned Crimea to Mother Russia.” But perhaps monuments will be erected on many European squares as well, acclaiming Russia’s president as “The Father of United Europe.”

PARIS – One day, monuments to Vladimir Putin may stand in Russian cities, bearing the inscription: “The man who returned Crimea to Mother Russia.” But perhaps monuments will be erected on many European squares as well, acclaiming Russia’s president as “The Father of United Europe.” Indeed, Putin’s swift move to annex Crimea has done more to harmonize European governments’ views on Russia than dozens of bilateral or multilateral meetings.

In Berlin last week, I heard French and German elites speak with one voice in discussing how to respond to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Of course, words are not deeds. Yet, thanks to Putin, the European Union may have found the new narrative and momentum that it has sought since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Europe badly needs that momentum. Confronted with a neo-imperial Russia’s desire to revise the post-Cold War order in Europe, the EU must speak with a single voice if it wants to appear strong and credible. And it must speak as one with the United States, just as it (mostly) did during the Cold War.

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