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War with Russia: Ukraine will be supported, but not in the way we expected

War with Russia: Ukraine will be supported, but not in the way we expected © EPA-EFE/ANTONIO COTRIM

In the traditional report to the Munich Security Conference, it was said that the Russian-Ukrainian war was relegated to the second, third and more distant plans in the world's perception of security threats. The composition of the participants provided for greater diversification and less concentration on Ukraine. However, all discussions revolved, if not around Ukraine, then around European security with regard to the security of Ukraine.

The withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from Avdiivka and the announcement of the death of Russian oppositionist Alexei Navalny in the colony increased the absentee presence at the Munich Conference of two people who represent the current challenges to European and Ukrainian security, namely Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

Only technological giants could compete with them in terms of popularity, which presented in Munich their own vision of control over artificial intelligence during this year's elections, which should cover about four billion people around the world.


Trump – to the Europeans

One of Trump's speakers, Republican Senator James Vance, spoke at the Munich conference on the last day in a half-empty hall. However, everyone interested in European security issues has either heard it or read it in the news. This time he did not offer Ukraine to give up its territories for the sake of peace with Putin. But he spoke of Trump's nuclear approach to global security, which may be softened but unlikely to be changed even under strong European pressure.

Senator Vance said Europe's problem is its inability to provide adequate security on its own. Moreover, this happened because of long-term American protection. It contributed to the reduction of vigilance and defense capability of Europe. That is, reducing the involvement of the United States of America in European affairs, according to educated Trumpism, is very good for Europe itself.

Vance reassured Europeans: Trump has no intention of withdrawing from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or leaving Europe altogether. However, the United States of America should shift its focus to Asia, allowing Europe to become more active in matters of its own security. The United States of America, according to this view, simply cannot produce enough weapons to deter enemies in all parts of the world where hostilities are taking place. This can be understood as if Europe considers assistance to Ukraine important, then it should provide its own weapons, and not rely on American weapons, which are more important in other parts of the world.

Europeans surely hear this message of the new American policy. In fact, Trump is pushing them to buy more American weapons so that the Europeans, not the Americans, share them with Ukraine. As for money for Ukraine, according to the Americans, there is already enough of it in Europe. And it would probably be true if it weren't for politics and sociology: there are other systemic contenders for Europe's conditional free money – from technology companies implementing the "green transition" to Viktor Orbán in Hungary and farmers across the European Union.

But there is something in American Trumpism that Europeans in general cannot accept, namely sympathy for dictators in general and Putin in particular. At the conference, James Vance said that Putin is not an existential threat to Europe and that relations with him can be built through diplomacy (by offering him Ukrainian, but perhaps other non-American territories. Vance didn't say that this time, but that's what was implied in his previous speeches.) After all, the consideration of American interests through diplomacy should not be limited by the negative perception of Putin's personality. If Europe does not agree with this, it can itself help Ukraine with weapons in the way outlined above, buying additional weapons from the United States of America and sharing its own with Ukraine (Vance did not say this either, but it follows from the ideology of Trumpism).

Europeans – to Trump

Despite Trump's irritation, Europeans are ready for the sake of European unity to communicate with him and prove their arguments (after all, Trump is not Putin). The Europeans are also ready to fulfill Trump's demands, which look obviously fair.

Compared to the 1990s and 2000s, when Europe itself insisted on greater autonomy from the United States of America, the situation has changed. Now the Europeans, not the Americans, seem more interested in the effectiveness of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who is considered the favorite to be the next Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and, of course, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke in favor of a more serious attitude of Europe to defense issues. This is motivated by Europe's self-interest, not Trump's pressure. At the same time, they proved the importance of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which relies more on Europe, for the United States of America itself.

The main European argument is an increase in defense spending. This will not only benefit American defense companies with expensive European contracts, but also demonstrate China's consolidated power, which is fully in line with Trump's foreign policy priorities. On the contrary, the rejection of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and aid to Ukraine will deprive the American defense industry of European money, will lead to despair in the commitments of the United States of America in Asia, where even for Trump, coalitions in the confrontation with China are important. Moreover, in case of independence of the United States of America from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Europe threatens that it will not help the United States of America in a war with China, if it happens. Probably, in this case, Europe will not help the United States of America in the economic confrontation with China, if it does not violate the principles of democracy and protection of human rights.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which monitors allied defense spending, reported in the context of the Munich conference that 18 of the alliance's 31 members will achieve defense spending of at least 2% of the Gross domestic product (GDP) this year, up from 11 countries in 2023. Thanks to the champions of military spending, in the Alliance already this year, the total defense expenditures of the member countries will reach 2% of their total Gross domestic product (GDP).

Trump probably has a lot to think about. But at the moment, he is putting forward conditions, feeling the readiness of Europeans to bargain. The maximum he is ready for so far is to control the tone of his statements.

But in addition to these strategic issues, there are other important issues of the current situation. For the sake of better positions in the presidential elections, Donald Trump insists on the collective blocking by Republicans of aid to Ukraine. This blockade has already cost the loss of Avdiivka, which has been under Russian attacks since the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war in 2014. Europe, with all its readiness, cannot quickly compensate for the loss of American military aid.

American Democrats advised the Europeans at the Munich Conference to communicate as much as possible with the Republicans regarding support for Ukraine. Such communication took place. However, judging by James Vance's speech on the last day, the position of Trump supporters has changed, if only in terms of tone. In essence, it has remained unchanged, namely American aid to Ukraine cannot be in the form of grants. This aid can be provided only in the form of a loan, or in concession to a European concern, paid for by the Europeans themselves.

"We have to be prepared for the worst, hoping for the best," European officials said about the prospects for resuming American aid to Ukraine.


Artificial intelligence and elections

Considerable attention was paid at the Munich conference to the risks posed by the widespread use of artificial intelligence. Tech giants present at the conference announced collective efforts to detect fake content related to the election, as well as the development of new tools to strengthen online security. According to the estimates of these companies, about four billion inhabitants of the Earth will be involved in this year's elections around the world.

Major technology companies have entered into an agreement to prevent the use of misleading content created with the help of artificial intelligence in elections, develop tools to detect and respond to such content, conduct educational campaigns and ensure transparency.

The agreement aims to protect online communities from audio, video and images impersonating or altering the appearance or actions of political figures. Among the signatories to the agreement are Adobe, Amazon, Anthropic, Arm, ElevenLabs, Google, IBM, Inflection AI, LinkedIn, McAfee, Meta, Microsoft, Nota, OpenAI, Snap Inc., Stability AI, TikTok, Trend Micro, Truepic and X.



Ukraine behaved decently at the Munich conference despite the news of the loss of Avdiivka. The understanding that success at the front was directly linked to military aid was common among all participants. The countries of the Global South took for granted the focus of the leading countries on the Russian-Ukrainian war, which confidently prevailed over all other topics, including events in the Middle East. The Ukrainian delegation managed to hold negotiations with China. Although the Chinese position, judging by the statements, was simply repeated, it contains an important component, namely that China will not supply weapons to the Russian Federation, just as it will not supply them to Ukraine.

Ukraine was at the center of security issues. It's good. The bad thing for Ukraine is that the policy of the United States of America changes regardless of the results of the presidential elections. Trumpism in the United States of America is more than Donald Trump himself. This is a new idea of a fair international system, which reduces more and more international issues to money.

Plan "A" of the Europeans, despite all the disapproval of Donald Trump, is to fulfill the rational part of his demands for defense funding. But Trump's firm commitment to friendship with Putin is likely to cause Europeans to distance themselves from the United States on Eurasian policy and possibly aid to Ukraine.

Europe has incomparably more resources than the Russian Federation, but these resources are not directed and not fully engaged in direct opposition to Putin's regime. The victory of Ukraine in the war remains the main goal, at least of the European allies. This goal is mostly supported by the United States of America and even supporters of Trump do not object under certain conditions (let Ukraine win if someone pays for it).

Support for Ukraine under such conditions changes its form. It will be necessary to borrow more. Most of the money planned for post-war reconstruction will have to be used to survive the war. After all, Ukraine will have to manufacture much more weapons itself. 

Read this article in Ukrainian and russian.

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