Western Europe Can’t Ignore Its Eastern Allies

It is a truism of diplomatic history that if a country or alliance is to reach a compromise peace with an adversary, it must first feel sufficiently secure itself. Hence, senior diplomat Thomas Graham’s suggestion that in order to manage this critical period on the Continent, “the long-term U.S. goal should be the resurrection of a security system based on cooperation with Russia but, perhaps paradoxically, the path to it runs through a near-term effort to secure Europe against Russia.”

Indeed, the last two years of war in Ukraine have accentuated fears in neighboring countries that share a border with Russia. All these fears center on a potential Russian invasion or attack, and though they may be misplaced — considering Russia’s military failures in Ukraine — they are, due to historical reasons, etched in the public consciousness.

However, during my recent discussions with experts across Central and Eastern Europe, it was generally clear that following Russia’s invasion, many in these countries felt their fears were vindicated — and that Western Europeans had ignored them all too easily.

And now these concerns have to be addressed, albeit not in the maximalist manner that some local and Washington hawks seem to advocate.