Whether we like it or not, added Fischer, modern Europe is now in a “confrontational mode with Russia. Russia is no longer part of any European peace order.” There’s been “a complete loss of trust with Putin.”
Is there any wonder why? Putin’s army is systematically destroying Ukrainian cities and infrastructure with the seeming intent not to impose Russian rule on these towns, communities and farms but rather to erase them and their residents from the map and make true by force Putin’s crackpot claim that Ukraine is not a real country.
At the Davos World Economic Forum last week, I interviewed Anatoliy Fedoruk, the mayor of Bucha, Ukraine, the town where Russia stands accused of murdering scores of civilians and leaving their bodies on the streets to rot, or piled into a mass grave in a churchyard, before the Russian troops were driven out.
“We had 419 peaceful citizens murdered in multiple ways,” Fedoruk told me. “We had no military infrastructure in our town. People were defenseless. The Russian soldiers stole, they raped and they drank. … I am really surprised that this is happening in the 21st century.”
If that was the “shock” phase of this war — and it is still going on — the “awe” phase is something I detected among European officials in Davos and Berlin. To put it bluntly, while the United States of America seems to be coming apart, the United States of Europe — the 27 members of the European Union — have stunned everyone, and most of all themselves, by coming together to make a fist, along with a number of other European nations and NATO, to stymie Putin’s invasion.
You could almost feel E.U. officials saying: “Wow, did we make that fist? Is that our fist?”
Since February, the E.U. has imposed five packages of sanctions against Russia — sanctions that not only badly hurt Russia but are also costly for the E.U. countries in terms of lost business or higher raw material costs. A sixth package, agreed to on Monday, will cut some 90 percent of E.U. oil imports from Russia by the end of this year while also ejecting Sberbank, Russia’s biggest bank, from SWIFT, the vital global banking messaging system.
Maybe the most impressive thing is how many Ukrainian refugees E.U. nations have been willing to house without much complaint. There is an awareness that Ukrainian menfolk are fighting to defend them, too, so the E.U. nations can at least house their women, children and elderly.