Risks and Trends

War is changing the perception of international politics

Takeaway 2022-10-25
During the opening panel of Risks and Trends, experts discussed who to blame for the war - Russia or Putin - and the lessons NATO must learn from the conflict.


Grabar-Kitarović: this is not a proxy war. Risks and Trends 2022 opened with an interview with former Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. In an interview with Marek Świerczyński, Grabar-Kitarović emphasised that although Vladimir Putin treats the war with Ukraine as a "proxy war" against the West, the latter should not belittle Ukraine in the same way and give in to Russian propaganda. The term "proxy war" deprives Ukraine of its identity, which is Putin's indirect goal. Ukraine can emerge from the war as free, democratic, and victorious; this will also strengthen the transatlantic community. In Grabar-Kitarović's view, the war is historic, but Western elites should do much more to convince their societies how important supporting Ukraine and its victory is for Western values and way of life.

Grabar-Kitarović and Loss: NATO must learn lessons from the war in Ukraine. The former Croatian President, who in the past also served as NATO's Deputy Secretary General, noted that Russia's current methods of warfare, including the use of cheap but effective Iranian drones and commercial drones, are forcing increased innovation within NATO. The Alliance must prepare to defend itself against adversaries using mass- albeit unsophisticated - technology. She was echoed by Rafael Loss of the European Council on Foreign Relations, who pointed out that, in view of the crimes committed by the Russians against civilians, NATO must no longer simply adopt a "defence posture", but plan for a proactive defence that prevents the risk of occupation of Alliance countries by an adversary such as Russia.

Pothier and Lasconjarias: who is responsible for the conflict in the West, Putin or Russia? Fabrice Pothier, President of Rasmussen Global, pointed out that it is not possible to claim that Russia as a whole was to blame for the war. It is necessary to point out that Vladimir Putin is responsible for it. This will make it possible to maintain a dialogue with the country's elites and its people. According to Pothier, this is why one must not agree to a pointless dialogue with Putin, simply to maintain the channels of communication. At the same time, however, says Pothier, one must not "drive the Russian President into a corner", but rather leave him room for negotiation. Guillaume Lasconjarias of the French Institute for Higher National Defence Studies pointed out that, hoping to make progress in cooperation with Moscow through dialogue with Russia, the West may have been too naïve in the initial stage of the conflict.

Hewitt and Loss: some countries are changing their stance. According to Rafael Loss, Turkey's attempts at mediation are understandable due to the country's geographical location. At the same time, however, he believes that attempts by, for instance, French President Emmanuel Macron to stop the war will not lead to an end of the conflict, but will instead intensify divisions. Michael Hewitt, President of IP3, noted that Germany has announced huge investments in defence but has not yet contracted any supplies, undermining confidence in the Zeitenwende (German for turning point) policy announced by Chancellor Olaf Scholz in February. He added that the policy of "not irritating Putin" is a strategic miscalculation and weakens the West. Loss added that if Poland ended its conflict over the rule of law with EurCom, its voice concerning support for Ukraine would be better heard.

Conclusion: what will constitute a victory? The participants agreed that Ukraine's political independence and the restoration of territorial sovereignty and economic independence (Pothier) would represent a victory. This can be achieved through both warfare and diplomacy. The war is likely to end in the foreseeable future (Grabar-Kitarović). Achieving full energy independence for Europe, including by breaking the taboo surrounding nuclear energy, will also be key to reducing Russia's damaging role (Hewitt). However, the West does not need to push for a change of power in Moscow, as this is the responsibility of the Russian people (Lasconjarias). Participants in the debate also stressed the need for the European Union to gain an independent defence capability, parallel to NATO.

The partners of the Risks and Trends 2022 conference include Amazon, Deloitte, Żywiec Group, IKEA, Janssen, KGHM, Żabka Group, European Council on Foreign Relations, and Clean Air Fund.

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Piotr Łukasiewicz, PhD
fmr. Senior Analyst for Security and International Affairs
Piotr Łukasiewicz, PhD
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Kacper Wańczyk
fmr. Analyst for Eurasian Affairs
Kacper Wańczyk
PI Alert

EU summit: Member States launch discussion on financing joint defence initiatives

State of play

Leaders approved appointments to top posts. At the EU summit that ended on Thursday night, they nominated Ursula von der Leyen for a second term as head of EurCom, former Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa as head of EurCou and Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas as head of EU diplomacy. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni abstained from voting for von der Leyen and voted against Costa and Kallas. This means that Meloni is preparing for tough negotiations and may demand a high political price in return for his party's support for von der Leyen in her approval in the EurParl. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán voted against von der Leyen and abstained on Kallas.

They adopted the Union's strategic agenda for 2024-2029. Over the next five years, the Union's goals include a successful digital and green transformation by "pragmatically" pursuing the path to climate neutrality by 2050. Another objective is to strengthen the EU's security and defence capabilities.

Von der Leyen spoke of EUR 500 billion for defence over a decade. This was the EurCom estimate of needed EU investment presented by its head at the EurCou meeting. Poland and France were among the countries that expected the EurCom to present possible options for financing defence investments before the summit, such as EU financing of common expenditure from a common borrowing. This idea was strongly opposed by Germany and the Netherlands, among others. In the end, von der Leyen decided to postpone the debate until after the constitution of the new EurCom, i.e. in the autumn. And the summit - after von der Leyen's oral presentation - only launched a preliminary debate on possible joint financing of defence projects.

Poland has submitted two defence projects. These might be co-financed by EU funds. On the eve of the summit, Poland and Greece presented in writing a detailed concept for an air defence system for the Union (Shield and Spear), which Prime Ministers Donald Tusk and Kyriakos Mitostakis had put forward - in a more general form - in May. In addition, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia presented the idea of jointly strengthening the defence infrastructure along the EU's borders with Russia and Belarus. Poland is pushing for the EU to go significantly beyond its current plans to support the defence industry with EU funds and agree to spend money on defence projects similar to the two proposals. But EU states are far from a consensus on the issue.

Zelensky signed a security agreement with the Union. The document, signed by President Volodymyr Zelensky in Brussels, commits all member states and the EU as a whole to "help Ukraine defend itself, resist efforts to destabilise it and deter future acts of aggression". The document recalls the EUR 5 billion the EU intends to allocate for military aid and training in 2024 (in addition to bilateral aid from EU countries to Kyiv). It says that "further comparable annual increases could be envisaged until 2027, based on Ukrainian needs" i.e. it could amount to up to EUR 20 billion. Ukraine's agreement with the EU comes on top of the bilateral security "guarantees" Ukraine has already signed with a dozen countries (including the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy). As Prime Minister Donald Tusk confirmed in Brussels, talks are also underway between Ukraine and Poland on the text of mutual commitments on security issues.

PI Alert

KO wins elections to the European Parliament

KO received 38.2 per cent of the vote and PiS 33.9 per cent, according to an exit poll by IPSOS. Konfederacja came in third with 11.9 per cent, followed by Trzecia Droga with 8.2 per cent, Lewica with 6.6 per cent, Bezpartyjni Samorządowcy with 0.8 per cent and Polexit with 0.3 per cent. According to the exit poll, KO gained 21 seats, PiS 19, Konfederacja 6, Trzecia Droga 4 and Lewica gained 3. The turnout was 39.7 per cent.

According to the European Parliament's first projection, the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), which includes, among others, PO and PSL, will remain the largest force with 181 MEPs in the 720-seat Parliament. The centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D), whose members include the Polish Lewica, should have 135 seats, whereas the liberal Renew Europe club (including Polska 2050) will have 82 seats. This gives a total of 398 seats to the coalition of these three centrist factions (EPP, S&D and Renew Europe) on which the European Commission under Ursula von der Leyen has relied on so far. The Green faction wins 53 seats according to the same projection, the European Conservatives and Reformists faction (including PiS) 71 seats and the radical right-wing Identity and Democracy 62 seats.