solana140_ LUDOVIC MARINAFP via Getty Images_eu ukraine LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images

Europe Must Sharpen Its Aims

While the European Union has shown unity in responding firmly to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is insufficiently prepared to address its most immediate challenges. Policymakers must now focus on four priorities in particular.

MADRID – Russian President Vladimir Putin has brought Europe back to a place we thought had been consigned to an unrepeatable past. We find ourselves confronting an irrational leader whose foreign policy has been degenerating since the day, in 2001, when US President George W. Bush looked him in the eye and said he had found a man he could trust.

The risk of a third world war is no longer within the realm of the impossible. Russia is now staging attacks just a few kilometers from NATO’s borders, and, given Putin’s unpredictability, we cannot dismiss the possibility of a direct confrontation between Russia and the Alliance. That would raise the almost unimaginable possibility of a nuclear conflict, which our leaders have the duty to avoid.

Because Russia and Europe are part of an uninterrupted land mass, stability at the edge of the continent is fundamental to regional peace. But diplomatic barriers between Russia and NATO are multiplying. Rarely have the post-World War II international organizations been so absent, or even helpless, in the face of conflict. Even the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which was established with the aim of guaranteeing stability between Russia, the United States, and Europe, is proving to be inadequate to today’s challenge.