By: Abhyuday Saraswat, Research Analyst, GSDN
The Russia-Ukraine War, which began in 2014 with annexation of Crimea, has had a significant impact on Western Europe in several ways. And with continued aggression and Russia’s “Special Military Operation” launched on February 24, 2022 it has affected both political, military and economic relations between the countries in the region and the world.
The Russia-Ukraine War has had a profound impact on political relations in Western Europe. The conflict has created deep divisions between countries in the region, with some nations supporting Russia’s actions while others vehemently condemn them. Poland and the Baltic states have been particularly vocal in their criticism of Russia, while Italy and Greece have taken a more supportive stance. These divisions have caused significant tension between countries, making it challenging for them to reach a consensus on how to respond to the conflict. As a result, the unity of the European Union has been undermined, which was already facing challenges due to the rise of nationalism and the refugee crisis.
The consequences of this conflict have been far-reaching, with political relations between countries in Western Europe being severely impacted. It is essential for nations to come together and find a way to resolve their differences to prevent further damage to the region’s political stability.
Wheat, barley, maize and cooking oil are major exports from Ukraine and Russia, mainly to nations in Africa and the Middle East. A compromise was mediated by Turkey and the UN last summer to allow Ukrainian grain to transit via Black Sea ports, but it appears that Russia is still impeding shipments. In addition, Russia is a significant producer of petroleum and fertiliser. In addition to raising food and petrol prices and generating shortages in locations like Chad, Tunisia, and Sri Lanka, disruptions to the flow of these items are aggravating other supply chain and climate concerns.
The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has had significant economic consequences for Western Europe. The imposition of sanctions by Western countries in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine has disrupted trade between Russia and the EU. As a result, countries that rely heavily on trade with Russia, such as Germany, have experienced a decline in exports since the sanctions were put in place. Conversely, countries that have been less impacted by the sanctions, such as Italy, have been able to maintain their trade relationships with Russia.
The economic fallout from the Russia-Ukraine War has been far-reaching, affecting not only the countries directly involved but also their trading partners. The sanctions imposed by Western countries have created a ripple effect throughout the global economy, with businesses and industries in Europe feeling the impact. The decline in exports to Russia has been particularly challenging for Germany, which has traditionally had strong economic ties with Russia. However, other countries have been able to weather the storm more effectively, thanks to their diversified trade relationships.
Despite the challenges posed by the ongoing conflict, Western Europe remains committed to finding a peaceful resolution to the crisis. In the meantime, businesses and industries in the region are adapting to the changing economic landscape, exploring new markets and opportunities to maintain their competitiveness. As the situation continues to evolve, it is clear that the economic ramifications of the Russia-Ukraine War will be felt for years to come.
The World Health Organization notes that more than 8 million refugees have left Ukraine, making this “the largest movement of people in the European Region since the Second World War.” Russia has forcibly relocated a lot of people. Resources, including those in Poland and Germany’s hospitals and schools, have been strained by others breaking the back of Poland and European public administration system. The same Poland which was previously unwilling to open its border to the Syrian refugee is opening up its border for Ukrainians which clearly shows its subjugation and discrimination between people of colour.
Anger and Protests
The ongoing conflict, coupled with the recent military build-up by Russian forces on the Ukrainian border, have led to a spate of protests in France and Northern Ireland. Many citizens of these countries view the Russian aggression as a threat to European stability and democracy, and thus express their solidarity with Ukraine through large-scale demonstrations. These protests also reflect broader concerns about geopolitical tensions between Russia and the West, as well as anxieties over the potential for another global conflict. As politicians debate how best to respond to Russian aggression, public protests serve as an important reminder of the urgency and gravity of these issues.
The conflict has caused a disruption in gas supplies from Russia to Europe, raising concerns about energy security in the region. Germany is the biggest user of gas in Europe, which receives 40% of its supply from Russia. Despite the sanctions, EU nations continued to buy gas. However, Putin’s punitive cuts have roughly 90% decreased supply. Leaders in Europe charge Moscow with “weaponizing” gas supplies.
With the sabotage of Nord-stream pipeline nothing flows form Russia to Europe making Europe shiver in their last winter and facing energy crisis. As a result, several countries in Western Europe have started exploring alternative sources of energy, such as renewable energy, to reduce their dependence on Russian energy and gas.
This shift towards renewable energy is not only driven by the need to ensure energy security but also by the desire to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change. The use of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydro power can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help achieve the goals set out in the Paris Agreement.
The impact of the Russia-Ukraine War on energy security in Western Europe highlights the need for diversification of energy sources and the importance of investing in renewable energy. By doing so, countries can not only ensure their energy security but also contribute to the global effort to combat climate change.
NATO and US
Furthermore, the Russia-Ukraine War has had a significant impact on the security situation in Europe. The conflict has led to increased tensions between Russia and NATO, with both sides conducting military exercises and increasing their military presence in the region. NATO and allies sending weapons to Kyiv and Germany ending its era of pacifism and mass producing for Ukraine. Not only Europe but also Pakistan sending weapons to Ukraine while maintaining relations with Russia is a sign of its hypocrite nature. As a measure of confidence in response to the invasion of Ukraine, Finland joined NATO opposing the previous “Finlandization” by Russia. By doing this, the Western military alliance is extended up to the 800-mile border between Finland and Russia and now NATO is breathing on Russia’s neck.
This has raised concerns about the possibility of a wider conflict, which could have catastrophic consequences for Europe and the world. The war has also highlighted the need for greater cooperation and coordination between European countries in the areas of defence and security.
The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has had a profound impact on Western Europe, with far-reaching consequences that have affected both politics and society. One of the most visible effects of the war has been the surge in the number of migrants and refugees seeking safety in Europe. As violence and instability continue to grip Ukraine, many people have been forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in neighbouring countries.
This influx of refugees has put a significant strain on Western European countries, many of which are already struggling to cope with the ongoing refugee crisis. The resulting tensions have fuelled rising nationalism and anti-immigrant sentiment, which has further exacerbated social divisions and created new challenges for policymakers.
Beyond the social impact, the Russia-Ukraine War has also had significant political and economic consequences for Western Europe. The conflict has disrupted trade and raised concerns about energy security, as many European countries rely heavily on Russian gas imports. Additionally, the ongoing conflict has created political divisions within the European Union, with some countries advocating for a more aggressive stance towards Russia while others seek to maintain diplomatic relations.
Despite these challenges, the conflict also highlights the importance of cooperation and unity among Western European countries. As the situation in Ukraine continues to evolve, it is clear that the conflict will continue to have significant consequences for Europe for years to come. By working together and finding common ground, however, Western European countries can help to mitigate the impact of the conflict and build a more stable and prosperous future for all.