The increased Western support for Ukraine’s war effort represents a crucial issue that will decide the war’s outcomes. Germany and Poland belong to a group of the most important supporters of Ukraine. Consequently, their cooperation with Kyiv, which is deeply rooted in a broader European context, will define, to a large degree, the conduct of the war. Therefore, The Jan Nowak Jeziorański College of Eastern Europe and Austausch invited prominent German, Polish and Ukrainian experts to write essays approaching the war from various angles and presenting different perspectives. First, we assume that the war is taking place on a grand scale in non-military fields and will have real consequences for all of Europe. Therefore, we placed less emphasis on the conduct of the war on the front and focused more on an economic war, Russia’s neo-imperialism, the Kremlin’s propaganda, politics of identity and memory, and Europe’s security, including the impact of the war on German foreign policy.
Our “Europe and the war in Ukraine: DE-PL-UKR perspectives” report begins with Olena Snigyr’s essay “The future of the European security order: Russia’s imperialism versus democracy”. This piece argues that any democratisation in Russia after a regime change would be impossible without completing the decolonisation process in this part of Eurasia. Moreover, Russia must finally act like a normal state obeying the basic principles of international law—no more, no less.
However, Nedim Useinow, in his article “The national question in Russia. What should be the Ukrainian reaction?”, believes that the current conditions in the Russian Federation do not support the idea of the country’s disintegration in the short-term perspective. In his opinion, “Instead of reckless narratives about Russia’s ‘decolonisation’, Ukraine should promote more legitimate, clear and realistic liberation rhetoric.” Indeed, Russia wages its war against Ukraine not only on the battlefield but also in the minds of Russian citizens and through propaganda directed at people worldwide.
As Jan Piekło writes in his article “Frozen historical trauma – how to deal with it?”, Russia’s narrative “is a hybrid mix of tsarist Russian imperialism, Soviet mythology and religious elements connected to Orthodoxy. Currently, its dominant aspect is fighting “Nazis” and NATO”.
Agnieszka Bryc, in her text titled “Time to pursue a Zeitenwende on Russia”, stresses that Russia’s aggression in Ukraine is not an episode but a process with profound historical roots grounded in imperial ambitions. In her opinion, the international order needs a profound reshaping so that it will make Russian aggression an improbable scenario in the future. Of course, this is undoubtedly a crucial task for Berlin and Warsaw, which can support Ukraine and thereby take responsibility for Europe’s future sustainable security.
On the other hand, “How real is the Zeitenwende? Explaining the gap between rhetoric and action”, written by Susan Stewart, describes extensively the Zeitenwende, namely a political rethink triggered by Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. It includes essential questions on European and transatlantic security, EU reform and enlargement, military expenditures and economic adjustments within Germany.
Mattia Nelles, in his contribution “The weak link? Germany and Russia’s war against Ukraine”, assumes that most probably the war will continue for many months and that this is why the West, including Germany, must provide Ukraine with all the equipment that Kyiv needs to maintain this high-intensity war over the next few months or even years. According to Nelles, Germany’s commitment is considerable but often considered insufficient. Moreover, the German reaction to the war provoked serious discussions, tensions within society and the political elite, and criticism from other allies. Indeed, the war brought a dramatic deterioration in the economic situation in Ukraine. Nevertheless, its economy, supported by the West, has managed to survive and defend itself against Moscow.
Yurii Gaidai analyses the condition of Ukraine’s economy after the full-scale Russian invasion in his article “The war and Ukraine’s economy: its perspectives and Western assistance”.
Finally, Justyna Gotkowska’s article titled “Security in the Baltic Sea region and the Russian invasion of Ukraine” argues convincingly that “the sustained will among NATO countries to strengthen the collective defence of the Alliance and to enhance deterrence and defence in the Baltic Sea region represents a key issue which will define the security of Europe in the coming years.”
Our report is published within the German-Polish Roundtable on the East. Every autumn, it gathers experts, journalists, scholars, diplomats, politicians, local government officials and NGO activists from Germany, Poland and other countries to discuss German and Polish policies towards Eastern Europe. The Jan Nowak Jeziorański College of Eastern Europe, with Austausch, with the support of the Heinrich Boll Stiftung, the Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation, and the city of Wrocław, have been organising the roundtable since 2018.