Russia, Ukraine and Europe’s 200-year quest for peace

Mark Mazower

Mark Mazower assesses the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine in the Financial Times.

“The many decades of peace that Europe enjoyed after 1945 were a historically unprecedented achievement in which defence spending declined and armies shrank dramatically. ‘Where have all the soldiers gone?’ asked one analyst of this transformation. Up until a month or two ago, polls showed that large numbers of the continent’s inhabitants regarded war as an anachronism, an outlook unchanged by the fighting that accompanied Yugoslavia’s break-up in the 1990s.

No longer, however. As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its second month, we find ourselves back in a world many Europeans thought they had left forever — one where terms such as annexation and partition, security guarantees and neutrality are bandied about across the conference table while bombs fall, trenches are dug and cities are left in ruins. In short, in the midst of Vladimir Putin’s war, Europe is once again confronted with the necessity for peacemaking.”

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