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Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies - European University Institute

What kind of game-changer is the war in Ukraine?

Academics from across the globe share their views on how the war changed the European security architecture during a workshop organised by Stephanie Hofmann.

23 February 2024 | Video

This Saturday, 24 February, marks two years from the Russian invasion in Ukraine. Looking back, a group of 11 experts in the field of international relations and foreign and security policy evaluated how the war has influenced European security architectures and what we may expect in the future.

Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has put into question many security assumptions in Europe, for example regarding confidence-building measures, arms control treaties, the use of tactical nuclear weapons, the dependence on Russian energy, and the elasticity of the transatlantic relationship. To address these issues Professor Stephanie Hofmann, Joint Chair in International Relations and Director of the Europe in the World research area at the Global Governance Programme of the Schuman Centre, hosted a workshop on 'European security architectures and their implications' earlier this academic year. The purpose of the event, she explained, was to find out whether the war was a watershed moment for organising security in Europe.

This video is a recording of a series of interviews where we ask the participants in the workshop the question: “What kind of game-changer is the war in Ukraine?”

In his response, Sergey Utkin from the University of Southern Denmark called the war “the biggest tragedy that is happening in Europe since WWII” and Michael John Williams from Syracuse University framed it as “the most substantial challenge to the established order in Europe, which challenges the double hegemony of NATO and the European Union”.

Gorana Grgić from the University of Sydney said, “Where we do see a game-changer is in the context of EU’s geopolitical identity. The EU these days is a much more geopolitically assertive actor.” Referring to the future of European security, Francesco Nicoli added, “The provision of security on the European continent cannot rely so heavily on a single partner as it is at the moment…Europe can do only up to a little point so far, because we simply do not have the capabilities or the institutions to replace the key role of the US.”

On attitudes of government and the public towards nuclear weapons Michal Onderco from Erasmus University Rotterdam pointed out that, “We know, at least now, that the anti-nuclear views that were so common in Europe are not actually fixed and can change.”

Looking at the future, Monica Sus from Hertie School stressed that, “The question remains how sustainable the change will be. The war fatigue is starting to appear, and the preferences of Member States are starting again to differ, so we will see in the future whether this united front will continue to exist.”

Find out more research and information about EUI’s actions in the aftermath of the Ukraine war on our website.

Last update: 26 February 2024

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