leonard96_KENZO TRIBOUILLARDAFP via Getty Images_zelenskymichelvonderleyen Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images

Europe Needs a New Ukraine Strategy

The European Union’s decision to start accession talks with Ukraine represents a symbolic victory rather than a practical one. With Ukraine struggling to secure crucial aid, and its counteroffensive failing to achieve its objectives, it is time to redefine what constitutes a Ukrainian victory and a Russian defeat.

WASHINGTON, DC – It took European Union leaders eight hours – a relatively short time, by EU standards – to agree to start accession negotiations with Ukraine. While this decision represents a major victory for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, it came at a high cost, as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán blocked the disbursement of €50 billion ($55 billion) in aid that Ukraine desperately needs to defend itself. As the war approaches its second anniversary, Europe finds itself in a double bind.

The EU’s Ukraine strategy rests on three main pillars. First, European leaders have committed to a definition of victory that implies the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and have pledged to support Ukraine until it reclaims all territory occupied by Russia during the war’s early stages.

Second, Europe’s Russia policy has been entirely focused on economic sanctions and international isolation. Western firms have fled Saint Petersburg and Moscow en masse, the G7 has imposed a price cap on Russian oil, and hundreds of Russian diplomats have been expelled from Western capitals.