Sadly my prediction of the end of the EU seems to be going to script, but as any rigid bureaucracy it takes time to unravel. It turns out that the sanctions regime hasn’t done its magic of stopping Putin’s aggressions, rather he has used it deliberately/effectively through his control as main gas supplier to main EU nations to help develop cracks within the union of the sanctions policy. In other words rather than providing military support on the ground and in the sea/air as opposed to military aid to help focus the effort at ending the conflict quickly and with this purely sanctions based strategy the EU willingly gave the initiative to Putin in directing this conflict and controlling how/when to escalate it because he now knows full well the limits of western support to Ukraine and that time is on his side while waving the nukes flag in his hand. For the EU and the US all this translates to more uncertainty & economic instability. So despite the EU’s PR machine trying to create a virtual reality of how the conflict is being managed Putin is not wasting his time on PR but with action on the ground; for now the Ukraine is the only one paying the price but not for long as he eyes Moldova and former soviet states while also threatening other European states like Finland, Sweden and pressuring Poland and Bulgaria by cutting gas supplies. This is indeed a time of reckoning for the EU & US and unless they are swift in changing gear to effectively take back the initiative both politically and militarily this conflict will have devastating effects on the region and will in all likelihood expand beyond the eastern flank of the EU.
So as a political observer let me repeat previous suggestions; STOP following a reactionary/haphazard and arrogant path in dealing with this conflict by first-and-foremost dealing with the reality of the situation firmly and acting deliberately as if your future depends on it because without a stable/resource independent future (particularly where adversaries are concerned) the economic value is based on a flimsy foundation that will always be under threat particularly in a new world order that you cannot protect/shape and help evolve. The sanctions policy has its role but depending on it without a military responsive strategy to back it up translates to a prolonged conflict while empowering Putin to drive it where he wants. What is needed is to undermine Putins aggressive policy in Russia itself and there aren’t many options to achieve that beyond what I mentioned nor much time to reverse course. Nobody wants military conflict but at times shying away from them means you’re not actually preventing them but losing the initiative in facing/controlling them and we have harsh lessons from history in a well documented example. Remember this is NOT only a military battle but a battle of ideologies which will directly affect the form of the new world order a process that’s already begun and where the challengers come from many directions including some once considered allies.
Finally let me just say that the main lesson to be had from this conflict is that Foreign Policy is a serious policy domain and it has to be founded on solid data, analysis/evaluation mechanisms able to predict/proactively deal with current/potential conflicts which also requires a solid infrastructure/management. In my humble opinion the complete/utter incompetence in dealing with this conflict and many many others around the world is an indication of failures – at least in a significant part – due to failures in appreciating the importance of this policy domain and the infrastructure/management needed to help come up with more effective/timely policy decisions well coordinated through different agencies rather than the reactionary approach that we have adopted for much too long despite a history of poor policies that have exacerbated/created conflicts rather than resolving them. For any foreign policy to be effective it needs to developed based on an accurate assessment of context; political, military, intelligence, economic and even historical context; in other words Foreign Policy cannot exist in isolation of the many important/relevant factors that in totality form the specific context for the situation at hand; no leadership ego, foreign influence or power brokers/lobbyists with a clear agenda/suspect loyalties should be allowed to stain judgements/integrity of the process. The journey starts by ensuring the election/selection of qualified individuals with a solid track record, indisputable integrity and competence to head the Foreign Office department (or equivalent) after thorough security checks (which should be the norm for all high ranking government roles) because friends even at times of peace this is serious business with lasting ramifications and where a single miscalculation can cost lives and undermine national interest at so many levels.
Just a thought!