Beyond public statements, European nations have so far been reluctant to act as Russian military forces have moved to the border with Ukraine. The UK has sent anti-tank weapons to Ukraine’s aid, and other Eastern European countries have also sent military equipment.
However, Germany committed only one field hospital, refraining from sending weapons.
Politico reported last week that, behind closed doors, Germany has been reluctant to escalate tensions with Russia, and has even withdrawn deterrents – such as banning Russia from the international payment system SWIFT.
Germany, meanwhile, is one of many nations heavily dependent on Russian energy.
Russia is fighting to get Germany and the EU to approve the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which would deliver fuel directly to Germany, bypassing Ukraine altogether.
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Mr Biden’s diplomatic push on the continent has also been met with stubbornness from France.
On Wednesday, Emmanuel Macron reportedly suggested that the EU should not necessarily follow America’s lead when it comes to dealing with Russia.
The French president told the European Parliament that while it was good for Europe to coordinate with the United States, “it is necessary for Europeans to conduct their own dialogue”.
In December, Mr Biden said putting US troops on the ground in the event of a Russian invasion was “not on the table”.
“But it’s partly also a recognition that he actually has limited leverage to persuade Europeans to do more.”
Highlighting the shrinking size of the armed forces of European nations, including Britain, he added: “European military capability is tiny compared to what it was at the end of the Cold War 30 years ago. ; it’s hollowed out, it’s militarily weakened.
“Biden is talking about the deployment of American troops in Poland and Romania, not in fact that the Europeans would move forces further, or that the Europeans would increase the size of their armed forces or their defense budgets.
“So in a sense, the limited potential responses to Russian aggression demonstrate the Americans’ inability to get the Europeans to do more.”
Since Brexit, the UK has been ‘less valuable’ to the US as it is no longer ‘the US Trojan horse in the EU’ and has been unable to ‘persuade the European Union to do things that might otherwise be inclined not to do”. do” in America’s best interests, Professor Dunn said.
He noted: “You have a situation of reduced unity in Europe and the West in general, and a reluctance to spend money on defense – and if you don’t have a lot of capabilities then you can’t make statements on the defense of your interests.”
At a press conference on Wednesday, Mr Biden suggested that a “minor incursion” would cost Russia less.
Professor Dunn commented that Mr Biden was “almost asking the Russians, if they should intervene, don’t intervene as badly as you might otherwise, rather not intervene at all. If you’re going to do something, do something minor rather than major.
He speculated that the Russian aggression on the border could be “a way of trying to prevent the Ukrainians from taking back their territory in the Donbass region.
Professor Dunn said: “Is it a big bluff, forcing the Ukrainians to actually cede Donbass to Russian control rather than reassert themselves?”
Professor Dunn said it was a “possibility”, but the scale of Russian aggression was akin to the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 or the crushing of the Prague Spring in 1968.