500+ participants / 80+ speakers / 20+ panels


Europe and the War Against Ukraine: Implications for Security, Neutrality & Dependency

October 31, 2022 by BSC

During the discussion, panelists largely agreed that Europe’s current dependence on the USA in terms of military security or information technologies is too strong. Therefore, they discussed the need of the EU to strive towards strategic autonomy which is however unlikely in the short term. Considering the renewed commitment to NATO because of the war against Ukraine, the panel also discussed the question of Serbia’s neutrality towards NATO in the course of its European integration process. 

Thomas Greminger, Director of the Geneva Center for Security Policy, said that the end of the war will shape the future of European peace and security order and now is the time to think about a new security architecture. He emphasized that the most optimistic scenario would be a fair negotiated end of war, in which case we can try to build up a more sustainable order based on deterrence and détente, and OSCE could play a significant role. However, “whether elements of the post-Cold War architecture will reappear will depend on the outcome of the war”. Answering the question posed by the moderator Ivana Dragicevic, Editor at N1 Television and Europe’s Futures Fellow at IWM, about the Western Balkans and neutrality, he stressed that neutrality and non-alignment are not the same concepts, and neutrality does not mean that you have to be indifferent when it comes to values and violation of international law.  

Karsten Friis, Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Security and Defense Research Group at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), agreed on this point and emphasized that “neutrality on NATO is not the same as non-alignment” as the example of Austria shows. With regards to the question of how the war against Ukraine might change Europe’s security arrangements, Friis underlined that Europe does not need to change its security architecture but to strengthen the existing one.  

Stefan Lehne, Senior Fellow at Carnegie Europe and lecturer at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna, said that Europe is the biggest exporter of norms and standards, but it is highly dependent on the US and NATO. In the long run, “it would be wise if Europe does not put all its eggs into the NATO basket”. Also, with regards to technological autonomy, Europe will be colonized by others if it cannot develop its own high-tech structures. When it comes to energy dependency and resilience, he said that is historically ironic that in the energy crisis in the 1970s Russia was a way out of energy dependence on the Middle East, and now we are looking for a solution in the Middle East.