"No ally believes that Ukraine is ready to join NATO"

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Jana Puglierin has spent two decades analyzing European foreign policy, especially its ability to achieve strategic autonomy. The war in Ukraine is a tragedy that provides an opportunity, but the Europeans do not seem determined to take the future into their own hands. They are not helping Kyiv enough, nor are they helping themselves, according to the Berlin-based political scientist at the European Council on International Relations.

NATO announced in 2008 that Ukraine was a candidate. Several allied countries have pushed for her to enter now, at the summit that begins today in Vilnius, but President Biden has said that she is not ready yet. What do you think?

No allied country believes that Ukraine is ready to join NATO yet. It is one thing to open a way for him to enter when the war is over and another to do it now.

The Baltics fear that if it does not enter now, Russia will have an incentive to keep fighting and the war will drag on.

Yes, it will be an incentive for the Kremlin and I understand the point of view of the Balts, but adding Ukraine now increases the risk for the Alliance of a direct confrontation with Russia. The rest of the allies now do not support the entry. Ukraine's options, in this sense, are nil.

Today we would not be talking about cluster bombs if the West had supplied Ukraine with the ammunition it needs."

Much commotion has been generated among the allies by the announcement that the United States will send cluster bombs to Ukraine. Is it necessary for Kyiv to have this type of ammunition?

We would not be talking about cluster bombs today if the West had supplied Ukraine with the ammunition it needs. We have known for a long time that Ukraine spends more ammunition than we can supply. Sending cluster weapons on the condition that they are used only on the battlefield and that these weapons are accompanied by the necessary material to demine the front is a bad but necessary option. We cannot let Ukraine fall victim to Russian cluster bombs and be unable to defend itself adequately. There is no other option than the bad one.

Do you think that the allies arrive at the Vilnius summit divided over this issue of cluster bombs and the long-term strategy in Ukraine?

No. I think they are closer than it seems. A year ago there were also different opinions on whether or not to send main battle tanks to the front. The Alliance has overcome those discrepancies and will do so with this one as well.

What can Ukraine expect from Vilnius?

A clear path to join NATO when the war is over and a commitment that the allies will stay by their side for as long as necessary. The Alliance needs to send Moscow a strong and clear message of unity in defense of Ukraine.

France and Germany have always found a way to move forward."

The relationship between France and Germany is in iron poor health. How do you see it that you observe it very closely every day?

I've been doing this since the early 2000s and crises have been recurring, but a way to move forward has always been found.

Now, however, it seems that there are strong disagreements about the strategic autonomy of Europe. France wants to speed up, but Germany prefers to slow down.

Without an agreement between France and Germany there will be no strategic autonomy. Nor without Poland and the United Kingdom.

It doesn't seem easy.

The Poles and the French are getting closer, while the Germans and Americans form another front and this is interesting. Poland and France want NATO to become more involved in Ukraine and this has brought them together, just as Germany's prudence is in tune with that of the United States. In this sense, Macron's speech in Bratislava at the beginning of June is very clear.

The French president, for example, is no longer talking about offering Russia security guarantees and believes that NATO should expand further east, including Ukraine when the war is over. He also defends strategic autonomy.

It's a significant stance change. He no longer thinks that NATO suffers from cerebral palsy.

Europeans have to understand that the United States will no longer be the ultimate guarantee for their security."

Strategic autonomy goes through a self-defense industry and a military capacity on the ground that is announced but does not arrive. No military believes that it is possible, for example, to deploy 300,000 soldiers on the eastern front in just 30 days.

Yes, it is true, but there is no other choice but to work so that it can be as soon as possible. NATO's plans have to be fulfilled in the shortest possible time. Europeans must understand that the United States will no longer be the ultimate guarantee for their security.

Political statements, for the moment, are far ahead of military reality. Nor is it possible to immediately mobilize 40,000 soldiers on the eastern flank, as is being said.

It's true. More investments are needed and that they are sustained over time.

Politicians are under a lot of pressure to spend on other issues, from the climate crisis to inflation.

Military spending must also be a priority. The sooner it is understood, the better.

Perhaps it is necessary for Trump to return to the White House for the Europeans to realize that they are at stake.

It's a bit sad, but yeah. It would also be an incentive if Russia won the war with Ukraine, but we don't have to get to that point.

Not having the necessary material for an effective defense of the territory leads Germany to prefer buying American weapons to developing a European alternative as France proposes.

It is a short term answer. You have to look ahead.

Does France's strategy make more sense?

I think so. In the long term it is an investment that stays in Europe and does not go to the United States. The return is very clear. We must be able to act on our own and be competitive. If we do not invest in the defense industry, it will be difficult for us to maintain a leading technology industry. I am now talking about creating wealth and jobs with high added value in other areas without depending on the United States.

How do you see the situation in Russia after the uprising of the Wagner group?

I can't give you an opinion. Russia is a closed box and not even the experts know what is happening beyond the fact that Putin has emerged weakened. There is not enough information to know what happens inside the Kremlin.

Do you see possible that one day there will be an agreement between Europe and Russia, perhaps a security agreement like the one Gorbachev proposed when he spoke of a “common European home”?

First there has to be stability in the Ukraine and then have a Gorbachev in Russia, something I don't see either. It is very clear what Russia wants: a Europe without an American military presence, without American nuclear weapons and with spheres of influence that nullify NATO's expansion to the East. It is not something that Europe is going to accept.

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