Looking to rally support for his country, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky traveled over the past 10 days to the capitals of Europe, as well as to the G7 and Arab League summits in Hiroshima, Japan, and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, respectively. During stops in London, Paris, Berlin, and Rome, Europe’s leaders expressed their continued backing for Kyiv. After the Russian invasion last February, they’d quickly united on Ukraine’s side: Germany declared the attack a turning point for its foreign policy; NATO was re-energized; and to some, Europe as a whole started to realize its potential as a global superpower. But Germany has struggled since to live up to its promises; Italy elected a far-right government in September whose parties have long praised Russian President Vladimir Putin; and French President Emanuel Macron visited Beijing last month to promote relations with China—which has supported Moscow staunchly throughout the conflict. Where exactly does Europe stand now?

Ivan Krastev is a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, the chairman of the Center for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, and a founding board member of the European Council on Foreign Relations. To Krastev, the war has brought about fundamental changes in Europe’s politics, security doctrines, and self-image. Upending a longstanding conviction that a major war wasn’t possible on the continent after World War II, the Russian invasion has led to new uncertainties. European national governments are all behind Kyiv, but they’re divided on how much support to give it. Ultimately, Krastev sees the war as feeding opposing political tendencies: A widespread agenda of solidarity with Ukraine is strengthening calls for a pan-European identity, on the one hand; and a widespread admiration for Ukraine’s resistance is demonstrating the power of a committed independent nation-state, on the other. Out of this contradiction, Krastev says, is emerging a divided Europe, unsure about what its future holds—not least amid conflicting views about how much it can trust its longtime ally, the United States.

Michael Bluhm: After Zelensky visited Europe’s capitals in mid-May, and their heads of state all expressed support for Ukraine’s defense, it’s still unclear whether they’ll meet all his requests for material back. How strong is European support for Ukraine?

Ivan Krastev: It’s stronger than it was a year ago. When the war started, people had a very clear idea of who the victim and aggressor were. But they also had the idea that Moscow was going to win. Many discussing peace talks two or three months after the invasion weren’t friendly to Russia; they simply believed that Ukraine didn’t have a chance. So European support was tentative.

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