Europe weak, admits Finnish premier - GulfToday

Europe weak, admits Finnish premier

Sanna Marin

Sanna Marin

Coming from a prime minister of a European country, which is also awaiting membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), Sanna Marin in a speech in Australia made the devastating admission that Europe is weak and it needed the United States. Speaking at the Lowy Institute in Sydney on Friday, she said, “I must be brutally honest with you. Europe isn’t strong enough right now. We would be in trouble without the United States.” In the context of the Ukraine war, it means that Europe alone cannot support Ukraine militarily, and there is the implication that Europe cannot stand up to Russia. This was indeed evident at the end of the Second World War in 1945. It was the reason that NATO was formed to face up to communist Soviet Union. The NATO did not have to confront the military power of the Soviet Union, and then the communist giant collapsed in 1991. The Ukraine war is the first major military confrontation with Russia, and Marin has said it: Europe is not up to the military challenge.

In the early days of the Cold War, the Americans showed evangelical zeal in fighting communism in every part of the world. But after the collapse of communism, it seems to have lost its ideological zeal to an extent. The United States, however, remains the largest aid-giver to Ukraine in terms of military supplies as well as humanitarian help. European Union (EU) is the second largest in providing support for Ukraine followed by the United Kingdom. Marin noted, “The United States has given a lot of weapons, a lot of financial aid, a lot of humanitarian aid to Ukraine and Europe isn’t strong enough yet.”

Marin’s concern was about Europe’s defence capability. She feels that Europe needs to build its military capability when it comes Europe’s defence, and she referred to European defence industry, to make sure “that we could cope in different situations.” While the United States spent 3.7 per cent of its GDP on defence, NATO members in Europe spent 1.77 per cent of its GDP on military preparedness. It was clear that Marin was hinting that Europe needs to step up its defence budget and arms build-up. Finland has been a traditionally neutral country in the Cold War and post-Cold War periods, but Helsinki now seems to fear the aggressive stance adopted by Russian President Vladimir Putin towards neighbouring countries in the Baltics and towards Finland which had taken an anti-Russian stance in the Ukraine war.

PM Marin argued that the European strategy towards Russia was faulty. She said, “For a long time Europe was building a strategy for Russia…to buy energy from Russia and to closen those economic ties and we thought this would prevent the war.” She said that Europe should have listened to states like Poland and those in the Baltics, which had warned that Russia did not care for closer economic ties with Europe, when it came to attacking Ukraine. But ever since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the anti-Russian stance in Europe has hardened, and there is uncompromising hostility towards Russian Vladimir Putin. When French President Emmanuel Macron suggested about considering security guarantees demanded by Russia as a way ending the war in Ukraine, there has been sharp criticism of his views from many quarters in Europe. Marin’s views on Russia seem to represent the new stance of Europe towards Russia and the need to bolster the military defence of Europe against Russia. The United States is more worried by the global challenge posed by China, while the Europeans see Russia to be a greater threat to its political setup.

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