Europe is facing its “most dangerous moment” since the Cold War amid fears Moscow will invade Ukraine, said top EU diplomat Josep Borrell, calling on the bloc to reduce its energy dependency on Russia and unite around a comprehensive security strategy.
“The last two years have seen a serious worsening of our strategic environment to the extent that today we are living through the most dangerous moment of the post-Cold War period,” Borrell said Tuesday during an event hosted jointly by the European External Action Service, and the EU Institute for Security Studies.
“Russia has made its economy more sanctions-proof, it has been building a strong resilience. Russia is today the third holder of assets in dollars — $400,000 million. But we have not done the same in the energy field and we must reduce our dependency on the Russian energy,” Borrell added.
His remarks come as the EU struggles to agree on how to retaliate against Moscow if it attacks its neighbor. One point of contention has been the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline running from Russia to Germany, which Berlin has not fully committed to canceling if Russia invades despite pressure from allies.
“The Ukraine-Russia crisis has demonstrated that we face an increasingly strategic environment. But once again, the debate on European security goes far beyond the Ukraine-Russia crisis,” Borrell said. “Look around us: the Balkans, the Middle East, Africa, NATO, Pacific — these days, threats are coming from everywhere and manifest themselves in all the strategic domains.”
He added that after two decades of security planning that have only resulted in “analyses, initiatives, and plans with lots of acronyms,” the EU must agree on a comprehensive security approach that translates into concrete actions.
“The basic fact is that security and defense is probably the area in which the European Union integration has the biggest gap between the citizens’ expectation and results,” Borrell said.
Last year, Borrell presented a first draft of a new EU “Security Compass,” which aims to set out a more muscular military strategy. He said Tuesday that these plans represent the EU’s major geopolitical choice between “seriously investing in our capacity to act or accepting being an object” as opposed to an actor in foreign policy.
He added that similar to establishing the euro currency and adopting a united coronavirus recovery plan, the Security Compass will require the EU to “jump together.”
This article has been updated to clarify Germany’s stance on linking Nord Stream 2 to the EU’s response to an invasion by Russia.