Policy Paper

The West’s Response to the Ukraine Conflict: A Transatlantic Success Story

April 07, 2016

Transatlantic cooperation in dealing with Russian aggression in Ukraine has been a surprising success story. European countries and the United States, together with partners such as Canada and Japan, have responded to that challenge with a high degree of unity and consistency. Through that process, the idea of the West as an international actor, as the central pillar of the liberal world order, has experienced a renaissance.

By using coercive means such as sanctions coupled with diplomacy, the West has helped Ukraine to resist Russian aggression. At the same time it has sent a strong message to Moscow and other capitals that the West continues to support core international rules such as territorial integrity and sovereignty, and is ready to invest a considerable amount of energy in holding up these norms. German Chancellor Angela Merkel played a central role in building this coalition and keeping it together. Berlin and Washington, alongside Paris and Brussels, were the key Western capitals during the Ukraine conflict. 

With the joint response to Russian aggression against Ukraine, Europe and the United States have set a precedent for a successful transatlantic cooperation on international conflicts. Whether this success story can become the starting point for a true renaissance of the West depends on the willingness of the central actors to move from crisis management to long-term strategic planning.

Full Policy Paper