EU ‘must develop counteroffensive’ against Vladimir Putin as it faces existential threat | World | News

The European Union is now facing “truly existential risks” that demand the bloc to start playing hardball against Russia, according to an expert.

Michael Emerson, an associate senior research fellow at Brussels-based think tank CEPS, believes Brussels can no longer choose to appease Vladimir Putin, particularly after his landslide victory at the neither free nor fair Russian elections is allowing him to remain in power for at least six more years.

In an op-ed for Euronews, Mr Emerson wrote: “Now he may feel inclined to become even more aggressive towards Ukraine and the rest of Europe.

“The risks for the EU and its civilisation are now truly existential. If we rule out appeasement, a counteroffensive must now be developed.”

As Russia grows increasingly bold and threatening against NATO’s eastern flank, the bloc should develop a strategy based on “three pillars”, the expert said.

Mr Emerson, the EU’s first ambassador to Russia, argued the bloc needs to refrain from seeking agreements such as the ones struck in 2014.

Mediated by Germany and France, the Minsk agreements aimed at bringing to an end the war in Ukraine‘s Donbas between pro-Russian separatists backed by the Kremlin and Kyiv.

Rather, Brussels should continue arming Ukraine, particularly as the US support is dwindling, to allow it to push back the Russian invaders who have been bringing devastation to the country since February 2022.

Lastly, Mr Emerson believes the EU must “consolidate its own civilisational appeal among its citizens in a straightforward democratic manner”.

As millions of EU nationals will be called to vote in the European elections in June, parties representing core European values are being urged to “out-compete” extremist parties leaning towards Russia, he said.

Russia, he noted, can target the heart of Europe through both disinformation and by cultivating allies such as far-right parties.

The expert added EU’s enlargement policies need to be improved to the point they mean real advances for all parties involved.

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