WASHINGTON -- After spending most of the last millennium at the war with itself, a continent has united against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Germany reversed its historical policy of not sending weapons to conflict zones and even joined the rest of Europe against Moscow. Switzerland is also famously neutral.
Michael McFaul, an ex-ambassador of the United States to Russia, said that "it's the rebirth and a new Europe." "I am absolutely shocked. I want to be honest with you. This is a significant shift. This will have significant consequences for Europe's future, the future transatlantic alliance and the future NATO, just as all those things were deteriorating.
The European Union, agreed Sunday to direct finance the purchase and delivery armies. Plans to send Ukraine more than half a million dollars in military aid as it fights Russian forces in what was called a "watershed moment" by the president of European Commission.
Virtually all European airspace is now restricted to Russian aircraft, even private jets. The E.U. The E.U. also banned Kremlin-backed media outlets, and took steps to block Russian assets from the global financial system.
Philippe Etienne, French Ambassador to America, stated Monday on MSNBC that the unification of the front was "a turning point" in the history and development of the continent.
Sweden, which isn't part of NATO but has maintained a policy neutrality throughout both World Wars and Cold War, announced Monday that it would send 5,000 antitank weapons to Ukraine.
According to the Swedish government, it was the first time that a Scandinavian country had sent arms to a country in war since 1939 when it helped its neighbor Finland against an invasion by the Soviets.
Even Switzerland joined the fray.
Since Napoleon, Switzerland has used neutrality as a survival strategy. It is not a member of NATO or the European Union.
The Swiss government, however, bowing to the public pressure of its citizens and all parties in its parliament, except the far-right, announced Monday that it would join EU's sanctions against Russia. This will bar entry to certain high-ranking Russians with Swiss connections, and close Swiss airspace for Russian flights.
This is significant because the secretive Swiss banks are a favourite of Russian oligarchs.
"We are now in an extraordinary situation, where extraordinary measures can be decided," said Ignazio Cassis, Swiss President. However, he pointed out that Swiss neutrality is intact as the country has not sent military aid nor gotten involved in the conflict.
Experts believe that Germany's most important action is the best.
For years, the most powerful country in Europe has sought friendlier relations to Moscow and refused to sell arms to countries in armed conflict as part of a post World War II doctrine on pacifism.
In a statement, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated that "The Russian invasion in Ukraine marks a turning moment." It threatens our entire postwar order. It is our duty in this situation to help Ukraine defend itself against Vladimir Putin's invasion army.
Berlin chose to engage with Russia over confrontation, owing to both economic necessity and an obligation to atone historically for the Nazi crimes.
"There is an exaggerated perception among German public opinion that Russia's engagement during the Cold War resulted in the fall of the Soviet Union. This is a misperception. Charles Lichfield (deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s GeoEconomics Center), said that Germany did more business than any other European country with the USSR. "This has influenced German behavior."
As recently as last Wednesday, Germany refused to send weapons to Ukraine and also prevented other countries, such as the Netherlands, from sending weapons made in Germany to Kyiv.
Berlin announced plans to send at most 1,000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine and 500 Stinger anti–aircraft defense systems. This paved the way for the rest of Europe to join the fight.
Lichfield stated that there was a drive for unity, and Germany was an obstacle. "It's striking that the EU was able to get in after the German barrier was removed."
Tobias Vestner is the head of the security program at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. He said that the Swiss have always prided themselves in being an open space for international organizations.
Vestner stated that Swiss citizens are starting to question their place in a more globalized world after a pandemic which did not respect international borders.
He said, "This is something that we have never seen before." "I wouldn't be surprised to see a shift in how neutrality is understood and applied," he said.