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Europe’s New War of Ideas

By welcoming accession bids from Ukraine and Moldova, the European Union has crossed a threshold, establishing itself firmly as Russia’s adversary. Europe must come of age, recognizing that survival in a dangerous neighborhood will require it to reorder its priorities.

BERLIN – Russia’s war in Ukraine will bifurcate Europe once again. East will be divided from West, and the frontier between them will likely be a dangerous, militarily secured zone for the foreseeable future.

Of course, we don’t know how or when the war will end. But, following recent developments, it now seems safe to assume that both Ukraine and Moldova will become candidates for European Union membership, and then full members within a few years. The leaders of the EU’s three largest member states (France, Germany, and Italy) and of Romania made that clear when they visited Kyiv last week. They offered full-throated support for Ukraine and Moldova’s membership bids, as did the European Commission immediately thereafter.

This enlargement process will fundamentally change the EU, transforming it decidedly into a geopolitical player and, indeed, into Russia’s main adversary on the continent. With his war of aggression in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has made it absolutely clear that he aspires to restore the Russian Empire. As such, he is operating on principles that are wholly incompatible with those of the EU, which is based on equal sovereignty, territorial integrity, the inviolability of borders, and rule of law.