Comment for Carnegie Europe
Denis MacShaneFormer UK minister for Europe
World War II began in response to the German and Soviet invasions of Poland and the Soviet annexation of the three independent Baltic states. The prelude to the war, of course, was Germany’s annexation of the sovereign state of Austria and part of Czechoslovakia.
It is therefore hard to see how democratic leaders can boost a new European strongman who has annexed part of one UN-recognized sovereign state, Ukraine, and de facto incorporated regions of another, Georgia. As former British prime minister William Gladstone put it when Britain was quarrelling with United States in the nineteenth century, “the arbitrament of the court is preferable to the arbitrament of the sword.”
#Putin has undermined the post-1945 European contract.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has undermined the post-1945 European contract that law replaces the illegal use of armed power. There was no attempt to win back sovereignty and democracy for Soviet Eastern Europe by armed force. Putin has revived every European worst fear that might is right. He has undermined the international rule of law that governs interstate relations.
Therefore, while everyone should recall the sacrifices made by Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, and other Soviet peoples between 1941 and 1945, it is not appropriate to salute the man who has reintroduced the annexation of another state’s sovereign territory as an acceptable practice for a European power.