The War in Ukraine as a Statebuilding Factor of European Integration

This Essay appears in Vol. 75, No. 2, "War in Ukraine: The World Responds" (Spring/Summer 2023).

By Tomasz Grzegorz Grosse

The aim of this article is to analyze the impact of the war in Ukraine on European integration. In particular, bellicist theories will be analyzed. The following research questions are examined below: (1) Has the security threat from Russian imperialism prompted the European Union (EU) to develop its own defense capabilities? and (2) Did it stimulate the development of state functions of this organization such as centralization or federalization to guarantee security to member states, especially those along the bloc’s eastern wing? The paper also examines the reasons why the state-building of the EU has encountered difficulties during the war in Ukraine. The main focus is put on distinct perceptions of the security situation within NATO’s eastern flank, including those of Poland, and Western European countries amid the war in Ukraine, as well as their possible impact on the development of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in the EU.

Keywords: war in Ukraine, state-building, bellicist theories, CSDP, EU


Jean Monnet’s famous prediction assumed that Europe would be “forged in crises” as the sum of the solutions adopted for those crises.[1] According to this opinion, the development of regional integration will, to the greatest extent, progress in response to emerging challenges and problems. From this perspective, it is worth considering consequences of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine that started in 2022. It has become the biggest geopolitical crisis in Europe since the end of World War II. Has the security threat from Russian imperialism prompted the EU to develop its own defense capabilities? Did it stimulate the development of the EU’s state functions such as centralization or federalization to guarantee security to Member States, especially those along the bloc’s eastern wing?

In terms of political science theories described as bellicist, security threat has been one of the most powerful factors of state-building mobilization in European history. Charles Tilly distinguishes two main phenomena that shaped contemporary states in Europe: military threat and the desire to ensure economic development alongside the related fiscal potential.[2] The threat of war was of primary importance. It urged the centralization and consolidation of political power, as well as the development of the tax system, to finance an army capable of defending against external threats.[3] This type of state-building process occurred relatively fast. Meanwhile, the creation of state functions under market logic was much slower and incremental. It was based on the development of legal regulations, the establishment of appropriate executive power, and the judiciary, which were to secure and facilitate economic progress.[4] Historically, both state-building factors— security and market regulation—most often complemented each other and thus created a mutual synergy that favored the creation of modern states.

Another similar theory is that advanced by William Riker on the development of a centralized federation. Any federal state, he claimed, emerges from a voluntary tender between regional and central elites. Should any war break out to possibly annihilate both, they conclude an agreement transferring power and necessary resources to the central level. Without an existential security threat, integration remains only partial and uneven.[5]

According to Daniel Kelemen and Kathleen McNamara, the European Union has so far developed on the basis of market logic. On the other hand, a security factor was much weaker and provided for the shaping of state functions within this organization only to a small extent.[6] The EU has built an extensive legal system as well as regulatory authorities, which today extend far beyond just economy. However, both scholars argue that it has remained a slightly centralized organization, especially in terms of administrative and fiscal potential, as well as in relation to repressive or coercive powers.[7] No geopolitical threat outside the bloc or, more precisely, a too-weak perception of this threat by the main political actors meant that the integration process in Western Europe proceeded gradually while state functions failed to develop sufficiently. Therefore, the EU remained an incomplete, unstable and crisis-prone organization.[8]

Kelemen and McNamara recognize the geopolitical motives underlying European integration. In their opinion, it was to a large extent a desire to solve a so-called “German problem,” or excessive dominance of this country over other states while taming its imperial tendencies.[9] Interestingly, while these concerns initially drove the integration process, they were not fully achieved. After the reunification of Germany (1990) and with subsequent economic projects within the Communities, Germany became Europe’s biggest economy, able to exert tremendous political influence in the EU. German dominance found reflection in how crucial integration principles were formed. First of all, there emerged economic regimes that deliberately or otherwise gave Germany more benefits than any other Member State (internal market, monetary union, climate policy, etc.). Furthermore, considerable importance arises from conditionality and financial sanctions in intra-EU relations, according to the principle that money is offered in exchange for fulfilling certain political expectations. Another Germanbacked idea consisted in the strengthening of technocracy and the EU judiciary. Consequently, central states dominated over peripheral ones.[10]

Kelemen and McNamara are right when they point to a relatively low sense of military threat in Western Europe, especially after the end of the Cold War and German reunification. They also rightly claim that since the 1950s, when integration processes began, security issues have been delegated to the U.S. and NATO. The European Communities, and then the EU, did not play a major role here.[11] NATO and the protective umbrella of the United States in fact weakened the tendency to build a European state in terms of security.[12]

Kelemen and McNamara also argue that even the growing migration pressure on Western Europe in the 21st century was not associated with a sense of external threat and thus was not placed in a state-building context.[13] Furthermore, that resulted from a liberal or left-wing approach to immigrants that urged proper assistance for the sake of human rights, often viewed as an indispensable cheap labor force in the EU’s internal market. As there is no clear security threat outside, the EU centralization towards further state functions did not develop sufficiently.

Criticism of Bellicist State-Building Concepts

Other scholars have agreed with the opinion of Kelemen and McNamara that the main reason for a weak EU security and defense policy was caused by its handover to NATO as a military alliance.[14] Interestingly, NATO has never aspired to create federative structures, nor a super-state. It did not need a common fiscal, monetary, or even migration policy. It was based on cooperation of sovereign states whose coherence and effectiveness were guaranteed by the military and political power of the United States of America. Thus, security cooperation does not necessarily have to be a statebuilding factor. At the same time, not only was Washington’s geopolitical advantage beneficial to Western European countries—able to replace a large part of their own defense spending with Washington’s—but it also turned into a factor of strategic dependence that became more cumbersome for Western European elites.

The concept of an external threat is also criticized against the backdrop of history. One example is the growth of Prussia and the unification of Germany in the 19th century.[15] Otto von Bismarck’s “blood and iron” policy was applied to German-speaking entities weaker than Prussia, therefore it is difficult to consider that the unification process was voluntary. This methodology is also more and more visible in the 21st century European integration, although the pressure of military power has now turned into legal coercion and financial sanctions. The unifying activities carried out by Prussia were met with a hostile reception from external geopolitical rivals, including the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the French Empire. Nevertheless, the rise of the German Empire after 1871 was not the result of an external threat. Rather, it was Prussia’s expansive policy aimed at uniting smaller German-speaking entities, a strategy that nevertheless stirred conflict with its powerful neighbors.

Scholars reject the determinism of theories that recognize security as a factor of state-building mobilization in the EU. First of all, they consider the EU a sui generis entity, and therefore unique. It does not follow the same development trajectory as historical nation-states in Europe, nor does it aspire to the Westphalian concept of the state or Max Weber’s definition.[16] The logic behind integration development was related to the emergence of the regulatory state,[17] which stemmed primarily from economic goals. Although the regulatory state in Europe was initially associated with the development of the internal market, strong legal and financial instruments of coercion came to light over time. In other words, economic logic turned out to be a sufficient state-building factor in Europe. Supranational elites, mainly technocratic and judiciary, followed and then vigorously sought to leverage their own power over integration processes.

The dysfunctions of the European regulatory state result from incomplete, poorly designed, or even dysfunctional economic projects. They were intended to deepen integration in the internal market, as was the case of the monetary union, the Green Deal, or the Schengen area. However, these projects turned out to be too ambitious or only partial, and therefore had serious structural flaws. As regards monetary union and climate policy, both regimes turned out to be strongly asymmetric in terms of costs and benefits redistributed among Member States. As a result, these examples of integration proved minimally crisis-resistant. At the same time, policies in the Eurozone, migration, Brexit, and rule of law crises were only partially successful, and to a large extent paved the way for further problems. This is best reflected in the concept of “failing forward” integration,[18] defined as gradually developing, but at huge costs, while sparking internal tensions and showing scarce resistance to crises.

Other scholars also believe that the concepts of Tilly and Riker are of very little importance to the processes of European integration. According to some, the era of state-building in Europe is long over. Nation-states have been formed for a long time and even constitute a certain obstacle to the development of the EU. Therefore, the concept of state-building in relation to the EU is anachronistic.[19] Others believe that Monnet’s assumption about “Europe forged in crises” is not entirely correct because the EU has reacted differently[20] depending on what kind of problem it encountered. Sometimes the response to the challenges was downright dysfunctional or fostered the growth of Euroskepticism.

Since February 2022, around eight million refugees have crossed borders into the EU, fleeing the full-scale war in Ukraine, a figure several times more than in the 2015-2016 migration crisis. However, the EU’s response in 2022 was pretty modest. Although the EU indeed opened Schengen borders to refugees, it did not deliver a migrant relocation mechanism comparable to that used back then, nor did it offer such generous financial assistance to refugees. According to the data of the European Parliament,[21] initial support for refugees in the 2015 crisis amounted to nearly €8.5 billion, while the estimates of the same institution[22] indicated only €3.5 billion of EU aid for the same purpose during 2022 (additionally, this comparison does not take into account inflation). Financial support from the EU budget for Turkey in 2015 amounted to €1 billion,[23] and aid from the same budget in 2022 for Ukraine civilians affected by the war amounted to merely €630 million.[24] Poland, which was most overwhelmed by the influx of Ukrainians, did not, for a long time, receive any financial support from the EU budget. It was only after some time that the European Commission agreed to allocate some funds under the 2014–2020 Cohesion policy for refugees. At the same time, EU officials withheld funds under a new round of 2021–2017 cohesion spending and froze those under Poland’s National Recovery Plan. Therefore, the rule of law mattered more for Brussels than the burden that fell on a Member State amid the war. It was strange proof of EU solidarity, showing no respect for so-called European values—in this case, support to refugees.

Under pressure from the U.S., Brussels agreed to support Kyiv financially, especially by allocating macroeconomic assistance to stabilize Ukraine’s financial system and budget.[25] In 2022, the EU made available €7.2 billion in macro-financial aid (MFA) and €620 million in budget support. Negotiations took place between Member States while the European Commission served as a facilitator. The said talks were protracted due mainly to German doubts. Therefore, financial aid reached Ukraine slowly and unsystematically, notably at the end of the budget year.[26] In 2023, the EU finally pledged up to €18 billion in loans to the Ukrainian government.[27]

Initially, the EU offered modest aid to Ukraine that later grew in importance. It included further funds to help refugees, then also macroeconomic support for Kyiv. Military assistance, however, was relatively small. Brussels only enabled the purchase of EU-produced armaments under the European Peace Facility, of which €3.6 billion had been earmarked by February 2023. Under this instrument, it was also planned to back efforts to manufacture ammunition, mainly for Ukraine, within the EU.[28] In addition, another €45 million in aid package was introduced in 2023 to support training efforts of the European Union Military Assistance Mission in Ukraine.[29] The training of Ukrainian soldiers took place in many countries, but the challenge was to determine the location of these trainings co-financed by Brussels. The authorities in Berlin pushed an idea of that military training of Ukrainian forces in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG)—a matter of prestige that upped the role of Berlin in the EU’s anti-crisis policy. Nevertheless, due to the cost of the entire operation and proximity to the theatre of war, Ukrainian troops first began training in Poland.[30] It was one of many disputes between the two countries that emerged after the outbreak of the war.

The described manner of the EU’s operation was related to preferences of Western European societies. The pressure from Central Europe on Brussels to provide more assistance to Ukraine produced moderate effect, as EU institutions usually prioritized views of Western countries. And public opinion in the west explicitly allowed humanitarian aid and the opening of borders for refugees but was reluctant to support transfer of weapons to Kyiv, accelerate Ukraine’s accession to the EU, and introduce sanctions on Moscow that could backfire on Member States and their economies.[31] Due to some rifts between individual countries, the EU was slow to impose batches of sanctions against Russia. Moreover, those sanctions contained many loopholes and exceptions and only moderately affected the interests of the Russian Federation, at least as of late 2022.

The Russian aggression of Ukraine underlined the importance of Member States and intergovernmental cooperation in the EU[32] and showed limited significance of the bloc as an organization capable of taking geopolitical challenges.[33] A bigger role of states in the war in Ukraine is because security and geostrategic issues are within key state competences. They indeed manifested sovereignty of EU members and to a large extent required unanimous decisions to be taken within intergovernmental institutions. This was the case with subsequent packages of sanctions against the Russian Federation, which were drafted by the European Commission that took action in concert with national governments. Each time they also required consent from all Member States. The Commission sought to enhance its powers to impose and, in particular, enforce sanctions, but states defied this move, saying it is only within the competence of the EU Council.[34] Western European countries were most reluctant to extend the powers of the Commission in this area, probably because they were very reserved about punishing the Russian Federation. Therefore, we did not observe a transfer of national competences to EU institutions in this crisis, but rather the strengthening of national authority in the field of security. Thus, war did not become a statebuilding factor for the EU.[35] Moreover, there has occurred “reactivation of transatlantic relations,”[36] as well as the deepening of European security dependence on NATO and support from Washington.[37]

It is hard to be otherwise. Although Article 42(7) of the Treaty on European Union provides for a mutual defense clause, it is considered to be a weaker guarantee than NATO’s Article 5. Treaty guarantees are offered by the United States, which is the world’s biggest military power and has real potential to provide such assistance, unlike most EU Member States. Already after the first Russian aggression against Ukraine in 2014, the European Union decided to reduce the number of planned rapid reaction forces (RRF) from 60,000 troops, as first established in 1999, to just 5,000 soldiers. The EU, however, is considering expanding the RRF by 2025. In turn, in response to the Russian aggression of 2022, NATO boosted its presence on its eastern flank with 40,000 personnel. The alliance is also planning to increase that strength to 300,000 troops in the future.[38]

Developing Defense Capabilities within the EU

When reflecting how the war in Ukraine might influence European integration mechanisms, one should mention efforts to shape European defense capabilities and thus the development of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Speaking at the Munich Security Conference in 2017, Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Member States to take the continent’s security destiny into their own hands.[39] In August 2022, after a renewed Russian aggression against Ukraine, at the Charles University in Prague, her successor as chancellor Olaf Scholz outlined a vision of a European Union that is stronger, more sovereign, and able to tackle geopolitical challenges independently.[40] The speech of the German chancellor was a response to the French idea of strategic autonomy of the EU, which, according to President Emmanuel Macron, should be based on joint intervention armed forces, a common defense budget, and a uniform military doctrine.[41]

Supporters of strategic autonomy or European sovereignty most often point to the possibility of the U.S. withdrawal from Europe to focus more on rivalry with China in Asia. Once abandoned, the EU must therefore have the ability to defend itself. However, at the time of the Russian threat, it was the U.S. that took the greatest burden of helping Ukraine as well as strengthening the threatened Central European countries. France and Germany remained hesitant. In addition, the development of the CSDP is justified by the need to standardize military and armament purchases of Member States so as to avoid money misspending.[42]

In May 2022, the European Commission presented a new plan to align military spending in EU countries, proposing quite modest funds of €500 million as an incentive.[43] Joint tenders would strengthen the capabilities of the European armaments industry, primarily French and German corporations. At the same time, it was another EU tool to limit the purchase of nonEuropean armaments, for example American or Korean.[44] Such a solution was not in the interest of the so-called eastern flank of NATO, whose states have entrusted their security to the U.S. to the greatest extent, even more so when several countries seeking to send German manufactured weapons to Ukraine found out that the procedure was blocked by Berlin, at least at the beginning of 2022.[45] These experiences were among the reasons why work on establishing a platform for joint arms purchases in the EU was prolonged. Ultimately, the Member States agreed in 2023 to allocate around €2 billion under the previously mentioned European Peace Facility for the purchase of ammunition for Ukraine.[46] Controversies surrounding this program concerned, among others, whether, given the low armament production in European factories, purchases should be made outside the EU, primarily in Turkey and South Korea. At the time, France was blocking the possibility of making such acquisitions outside the EU.[47]

It is also worth mentioning the establishment of the European Defense Fund (EDF) in 2017, which for the period 2021-2027 had almost €8 billion at its disposal for research cooperation, among others. Thus, the EDF was established even before Russia attacked Ukraine in 2022. The funds were mostly allocated to the largest armaments producers and research centers from Germany, France, Spain, and Italy, while the projects themselves were seriously delayed and full of other organizational problems.[48] What drew attention, however, was the fact that entities from the eastern flank of NATO used the funds in question to a relatively small extent. In other words, the EU countries most threatened by Moscow made little use of EDF funds.

The EU defense policy development plans consist of two main components. The first concerns efforts to increase the armaments production potential to strengthen the industrial base, mainly in France and Germany,[49] as well as their export opportunities within both the EU internal market and globally. According to the SIPRI report,[50] France was the world’s thirdlargest arms exporter, while Germany ranked fifth. After the Russian aggression against Ukraine in 2014, both countries also sold arms to the Russian Federation.[51]

The second ingredient is geopolitics. That is why in his speech in Prague, Scholz emphasized the need to increase the scope of majority voting on matters concerning the EU’s external policy. This would give an obvious advantage to the largest EU countries. However, given the traditional directions of German and French geopolitics, that was difficult for the countries of NATO’s eastern flank to accept. Even seven months into Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Merkel suggested a pan-European security architecture that would include Russia.[52] In other words, German politicians did not seek to build a strong EU policy to deter and, in a critical situation, also to defend EU Member States. Rather, they intended to communicate with Russia. It was a rather naive approach to this threat that could have ended up in further concessions to the Kremlin, first about Russian demands towards Ukraine (and Belarus) and then those jeopardizing interests of the Baltic states and other Central European countries.

Additionally, the CSDP was primarily intended to build the industrial and technological potential of the largest defense corporations, mainly in Western Europe, and to enable them to expand their exports. It was also intended to encourage the largest arms importers in Central and Southern Europe to purchase arms from EU-subsidized corporations while dissuading them from looking outside the EU. In this way, a stronger CSDP served to weaken Washington’s influence in Europe as well as promote the concept of a multipolar order, under which Berlin and Paris were potentially the most important geopolitical centers within the EU.

Since February 24, 2022, the security system in Europe has been put to the test and gradually evolved. However, it was not based on the CSDP, but rather on the North Atlantic alliance, and especially on the credibility of the U.S. The security system, formed under the influence of the war, included Ukraine and was supposed to guarantee real defense against Russian aggression. It was mostly coined by the U.S., the United Kingdom, and the countries of NATO’s eastern flank, led by Poland.[53] Subsequently, this system was boosted by the planned accession of Sweden and Finland. The Polish government’s response to the war, which included massive arms purchases and reinforced national armaments potential, made Poland one of the most important countries able to provide security support to fellow EU Member States. Combined with the potential of countries such as Finland and support from the U.S., Poland became a key element of the security system, unlike strategically torn and hesitant Germany or France.[54]

Likewise, the war elevated the geopolitical importance of the Three Seas Initiative, broadly defined as the eastern flank of NATO.[55] This occurred at the expense of Berlin and its influence[56] and weakened its ability to control Central Europe through EU instruments, among other tools. As Scholz himself admitted in his Prague speech: “The center of Europe is moving east.”[57] That is why the FRG Chancellor delivered his programmatic address in Prague, trying to rebuild Germany’s credibility in Central and Eastern Europe, but also in the eyes of American politicians.

Shortly afterwards, Berlin made a proposal to the countries of the region to jointly purchase air defense systems and missiles to be integrated into NATO’s air and missile defense system.[58] Notably, Poland did not accept the German initiative. The reason was that Warsaw conducted advanced military-industrial cooperation under the Vistula medium-range air defense program and the Narew short-range air defense scheme alongside the United States and Great Britain, respectively. Perhaps, however, after a somewhat troublesome deployment of German matériel to Ukraine (as well as Leopard tanks to Poland), Warsaw became discouraged from buying German weapons, including the IRIS-T SLM system manufactured by the German company Diehl Defense. Another factor could have been geopolitical discrepancies between Poland and Germany, as well as disputes over war reparations and withheld EU funds for Warsaw.

Berlin’s hesitant stance towards the war in Ukraine was summarized by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who accused German politicians of behaving as if they wanted to be “half pregnant.”[59] Only after long persuasions and even international pressure did Scholz decide to send heavy weapons, including tanks, to Ukraine. As in the past, Germany delayed the delivery of weapons that failed to change the early fate of the war.[60]

Therefore, the strengthening of the Three Seas Initiative countries was a real barrier against Russian aggression, which was in no way guaranteed by either Berlin or Paris,[61] and thus also CSDP—controlled to a large extent through both capitals. A reinforced Central and Eastern Europe could also obstruct geoeconomic cooperation between Germany (and France) and the Russian Federation. Moreover, the war seriously compromised the idea of strategic autonomy, previously promoted by Paris and Berlin.

The aforementioned concept was to lead to an increase in the emancipation of the EU towards Washington. This was the purpose of developing the so-called strategic compass.[62] For this reason, the process of developing the EU security strategy was protracted, in addition to serious controversies among Member States. Experts pointed out that the foundation of European security without U.S. support was an illusion.[63] Furthermore, the idea of strategic autonomy was supposed to reinforce the role of Paris and Berlin over the integration processes, and before the outbreak of the 2022 war, it also resulted in an increasingly closer rapprochement of both capitals with Moscow. Interestingly, the Russian aggression against Ukraine in 2014 had not weakened these tendencies in the slightest. In 2015, a decision was made to build the second branch of Nord Stream, a move that thus boosted geoeconomic rapprochement with Russia. A year later, a crisis began amid the violation of the rule of law and so-called European values. Regardless of whether the dispute was justified, major geopolitical differences emerged in its background, including the political future of the EU and the subjectivity of Central Europe. It is also hard not to notice that the pressure on the so-called rule of law from EU institutions, supported by Paris and Berlin, eroded the international position of the pro-Atlantic government in Warsaw that to a large extent has mattered for European security since 2022.

The war in Ukraine weakened the role of the Franco-German tandem in the EU, but also to some extent undermined the chances of developing common defense within the EU. For example, the French were disappointed with Berlin’s decision to purchase the American F-35 multi-role fighter capable of carrying nuclear warheads. This thwarted a plan to build a sixth-generation aircraft in cooperation with German, French, and Spanish corporations. Pierre Haroche, a French expert at the Ministry of Defence, stated that the FRG’s priority is not to strengthen European defence, but to rebuild its own military potential to meet NATO requirements. Worth €100 billion, a new fund for the modernization of the German army was intended to serve this purpose. The French expert added that Paris could not therefore rely on Berlin for defense.[64] Most of the countries in the eastern part of the EU, most threatened by Russian imperialism, could have drawn exactly the same conclusion. They may have felt disappointed with the attitude of France and Germany towards the Russian aggression against Ukraine. After all, it was Macron who appealed to allow Putin to get out of the war “with his face”[65] and to “give Russia security guarantees.”[66] Scholz, on the other hand, did not want to be “drawn into a war that is not his own”[67] and for a long time repeatedly refused to deliver heavy weapons to the fighting Ukraine.

According to the Kiel Institute of World Economy,[68] in August 2022, Germany declared €1.2 billion worth of military support for Ukraine while France likewise pledged €233 million in aid. In this way, economically weaker Poland offered much more to Kyiv (around €1.8 billion) than the combined aid flowing from Berlin and Paris. Later, the declared military aid from Germany increased but Poland donated the most significant percentage of its gross domestic product to Ukraine. In addition, one might mention the German attitude at the June 2022 NATO summit in Madrid as German authorities blocked plans to strengthen the countries alongside the bloc’s east, including Poland. Berlin also failed to fulfil its promise to deliver Leopard tanks to Warsaw, which were to replace the T-72 vehicles sent to Ukraine. So, at a time when Poland delivered 240 tanks and over 100 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine, Germany not only did not want to send heavy weapons to Ukraine, but also did not accomplish its commitment to convey tanks to Poland.

In 2022, the German credibility in the security sphere clearly decreased. An expression of this was the growing distrust of Warsaw towards its western neighbor, one example was initial reluctance to accept a Patriot missile defense system that Germany offered to send to Poland to protect its eastern regions.[69] In addition, there was a problem to reach German companies and ask them to repair weapons deployed to Ukraine on behalf of German authorities.[70] Therefore, the proposals to strengthen the CSDP have been met with skepticism as they did not guarantee an effective response to Russian imperialism. Geopolitical differences between Western and Central Europe, which exacerbated during the war in Ukraine, deepened rifts between the allies. This must have weakened the state-building tendencies in the EU, especially in relation to the CSDP, but also in terms of extending the scope of qualified majority voting in the EU’s external policy. This is all the more evident given that the progress of integration in the European foreign and security policy and the CSDP in many cases required the unanimous consent of all Member States to change the treaties.


The attitude of Paris and Berlin towards Moscow and Kyiv, both before 2022 and after the renewed Russian aggression against Ukraine, differed from the behavior of most Central European capitals. In previous crises affecting the European Union, France and Germany acted as leaders for the entire community. However, in the full-scale war in Ukraine, they kept their distance or even hindered the EU’s involvement in helping Kyiv or imposing sanctions on Moscow. Therefore, it can be concluded that the war in Ukraine was not a catalyst for shaping state functions in the EU or developing the CSDP. According to the assumptions of German and French politicians, the aforementioned policy was not supposed to counteract Russia’s imperial attempts and thus strengthen the security of the Member States in the east. This undermined the legitimacy for further centralization and federalization of the EU. Although Western European elites were pushing for greater integration, politicians in Central Europe showed less confidence in these plans, which could have thwarted them, or at least made their implementation more difficult.

Most of the countries along NATO’s eastern flank disagreed with the German and French idea of strategic autonomy from NATO and the U.S. On the contrary, they believed Washington could guarantee security throughout the region. NATO structures were therefore much more credible for these countries in this respect than the either the CSDP or France and Germany. Against this background, in 2022, a strategic tear occurred within EU countries, but also indirectly NATO. In the latter case, it had, however, less negative consequences for the credibility and cohesion of the alliance due to the dominant role of the U.S. An expression of the geostrategic rupture within the EU was, for example, French and German efforts during the war to mobilize fellow Member States against the U.S., specifically in response to the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act.[71] It turned out that the competition with the U.S. in the field of economy and climate policy was more important for decision-makers in Western Europe than geopolitical challenges and the need for cooperation with the U.S. in this field. This caused anxiety and mistrust of Paris and Berlin among the elites in Central Europe.[72]

Therefore, during the 2022 war in Ukraine, the outline of a new security system was being shaped, which was an alternative to the CSDP. It was intended to protect countries of Central and Eastern Europe against Russian aggression. Thus, it included Ukraine, but also grew out of the war mobilization in Poland, the Baltic states, and other countries on NATO’s eastern flank, as well as in Finland and Sweden. It relied on military, financial, and political support from the U.S. and the UK, and to a lesser extent Canada. This system and its geopolitical importance strengthened the international role of Central and Eastern Europe led by Warsaw. Transatlantic ties between NATO’s eastern flank and the U.S. also saw a build-up. On the other hand, they weakened both the influence of Russia within the broadly understood Three Seas area (including Ukraine) and possibilities of Germany’s impact on this region. As predicted by Stephen M. Walt,[73] the war in Ukraine could have been a momentum for integration for countries threatened by Russian imperialism. But it is the author’s opinion that it applied primarily to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and to a lesser extent to the entire EU.

[1] Jean Monnet, Memoirs (London: Collins, 1978), 417.

[2] Charles Tilly, Coercion, Capital and European states, A.D. 990 – 1992 (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 1990).

[3] Charles Tilly, The Formation of National States in Western Europe (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1975).

[4] Harold J. Berman Harold, Law and Revolution (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983), 406; Francis Fukuyama, Origins of Political Order (New York: FSG Adult, 2012), 271; and Joseph Strayer, On the Medieval Origins of the Modern State (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1970), 26-31.

[5] William H. Riker, Federalism: Origin, Operation, Significance (Boston: Little, Brown, 1964), 12-13, 16.

[6] Daniel R. Kelemen and Kathleen R. McNamara, “State-building and the European Union: Markets, War, and Europe’s Uneven Political Development,” Comparative Political Studies 55, no. 6 (2022): 969.

[7] Kelemen and McNamara, “State-building and the European Union,” 964.

[8] Kelemen and McNamara, “State-building and the European Union,” 965-6.

[9] Kelemen and McNamara, “State-building and the European Union,” 971.

[10] José M. Magone, Brigid Laffan, and Christian Schweiger, eds., Core-periphery relations in the European Union: power and conflict in a dualist political economy (Abingdon, London, New York: Routledge, 2016).

[11] Kelemen and McNamara, “State-building and the European Union,” 975.

[12] Anand Menon, “Defense policy and the European state” in The Reconfiguration of the State in Europe, Desmond King and Patrick Le Gales, eds. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 377–393; and Celest A. Wallander, “Institutional assets and adaptability: NATO after the Cold war,” International Organization 54, no. 4 (2000): 705–735.

[13] Kelemen and McNamara, “State-building and the European Union,” 977-981.

[14] Christian Freudlsperger and Frank Schimmelfennig, “Transboundary crises and political development: why war is not necessary for European state-building,” Journal of European Public Policy 29, no. 12 (2022): 1871–1884; and Philipp Genschel, “Bellicist integration? The war in Ukraine, the European Union and core state powers,” Journal of European Public Policy 29, no. 12 (2022): 1885–1900.

[15] Mette Eilstrup-Sangiovanni, “The anachronism of bellicist state-building,” Journal of European Public Policy 29, no. 12 (2022): 1905.

[16] Freudlsperger and Schimmelfennig, “Transboundary crises and political development,” 1871. In Weber’s concept, the state is a rational organization that functions according to a professional administrative apparatus (government) performing public tasks and claiming monopoly over the use of violence against the population living within a given area. See Max Weber, Gospodarka i społeczeństwo. Zarys socjologii rozumiejącej [Economy and society. Outline of understanding sociology] (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, 2002), 40.

[17] James A. Caporaso, “The European union and forms of state: Westphalian, regulatory or postmodern?” Journal of Common Market Studies 34, no. 1 (1996): 29–52; and Giandomenico Majone, Regulating Europe (London, New York: Routledge, 1996).

[18] Erik Jones, Daniel R. Kelemen, and Sophie Meunier, “Failing forward? Crises and patterns of European integration,” Journal of European Public Policy 28, no. 10 (2021): 1519–1536.

[19] Eilstrup-Sangiovanni, “The anachronism of bellicist state-building,” 1902.

[20] Veronica Anghel and Erik Jones, “Is Europe really forged through crisis? Pandemic EU and the Russia – Ukraine war,” Journal of European Public Policy 30, no. 4 (2023), DOI: 10.1080/13501763.2022.2140820.

[21] European Parliament, EU funds for migration, asylum and integration policies, 2018, PE 603.828, Brussels, 15.

[22] European Parliament, Financial support for the treatment and accompanying of Ukrainian refugees, Background note for the CONT-LIBE, 2022, Brussels, 10.

[23] European Parliament, EU funds for migration, asylum and integration policies, 15.

[24] European Council, “EU solidarity with Ukraine, Humanitarian aid,” 2023, https://www.consilium.

[25] Henry Foy, James Politi, and Colby Smith, “US presses EU to speed up financial aid to Ukraine,” Financial Times, September 28, 2022,

[26] Paola Tamma, “Ukraine calls for more clarity on aid from EU,” Politico, October 25, 2022, https://

[27] European Council, “EU solidarity with Ukraine, Humanitarian aid.”

[28] Jacopo Barigazzi, “When not if: EU wants to buy bullets for Ukraine — doing it will be harder,” Politico, February 20, 2023,

[29] EU Military Assistance Mission in support of Ukraine, “About EU Military Assistance Mission in support of Ukraine,” 2023,

[30] Do Rzeczy, „Szykuje się nowa awantura między Berlinem a Warszawą,” [War in Ukraine. A new brawl is brewing between Berlin and Warsaw], November 15, 2022, kraj/369709/awantura-miedzy-polska-a-niemcami-chodzi-o-szkolenie-ukraincow.html.

[31] Philipp Genschel, “Bellicist integration? The war in Ukraine, the European Union and core state powers,” Journal of European Public Policy 29, no. 12 (2022): 1893.

[32] Genschel, “Bellicist integration?” 1886, 1889.

[33] Anghel and Jones, “Is Europe really forged through crisis?” 7.

[34] Jacopo Barigazzi, Tamma Paola, and Kijewski Leonie, “EU countries push back against fines for Russian frozen assets,” Politico, February 22, 2023,

[35] Genschel, “Bellicist integration?” 1898.

[36] Anghel and Jones, “Is Europe really forged through crisis?” 3.

[37] Genschel, “Bellicist integration?” 1890.

[38] Genschel, “Bellicist integration?” 1895.

[39] Speech by Federal Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel at the 53rd Munich Security Conference, February 18, 2017,

[40] Speech by Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the Charles University in Prague, August 29, 2022,

[41] Kim Willsher, “Europe must be more independent and shore up its defence, says Macron,” The Guardian, March 3, 2023,

[42] Ester Sabatino, “The European defence fund: a step towards a single market for defence?” Journal of European Integration 449, no. 1 (2022): 133–148.

[43] European Commission, “European Commission proposes €500 million instrument for common defence procurement – EDIRPA,” November 25, 2022,

[44]„Pozatraktatowe metody rozwoju integracji: przykład Wspólnej polityki bezpieczeństwa i obrony” [Non-treaty methods for developing integration: the example of the Common Security and Defence Policy], Studia Polityczne 47, no. 1 (2019): 93–112.

[45] Deutsche Welle, “Germany blocks Estonian arms exports to Ukraine: report,” January 21, 2022,

[46] Jacopo Barigazzi, “France and Poland spar as EU plan to buy Ukraine ammo idles in legal limbo,” Politico, April 19, 2023,; and Jacopo Barigazzi, “When not if: EU wants to buy bullets for Ukraine — doing it will be harder,” Politico, February 20, 2023,

[47] Jacopo Barigazzi, “France and Poland spar as EU plan to buy Ukraine ammo idles in legal limbo,” Politico, April 19, 2023,

[48] Nikolaj Nielsen, “Auditors find ‘scarce results’ of EU defence fund projects,”, April 26, 2023,

[49] Moritz Weiss and Felix Biermann, “Networked politics and the supply of European defence integration,” Journal of European Public Policy 29, no. 6 (2022): 910–931.

[50] Pieter D. Wezeman, Alexandra Kuimova, and Siemon T. Wezeman, “Trends in International Arms Transfers,” SIPRI Fact Sheet, March 2022, 2.

[51] Joe Barnes, Huggler Justin, and Penna Dominic, “Exclusive: France and Germany evaded arms embargo to sell weapons to Russia,” The Telegraph, April 22, 2022,

[52] Focus Online, “Merkel irritiert mit nächster Aussage über Russland,” September 30, 2022, https://

[53] Andrew A. Michta, “Ukraine: A battle over the future of Europe,” Politico, December 26, 2022,

[54] Michael Shurkin, “Olaf Scholz and the New, New Europe,” January 2023, post/olaf-scholz-and-the-new-new-europe.

[55] Andrew A. Michta, “The Ukraine War Is a Game Changer: America Must Support the ‘Intermarium’ Region,” 19FortyFive, 2023,

[56] Steven Erlanger, “Ukraine War Accelerates Shift of Power in Europe to the East,” The New York Times, January 26, 2023,

[57] Speech by Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

[58] Justyna Gotkowska, “Germany’s European Sky Shield Initiative,” The Centre for Eastern Studies, Analyses, October 14, 2022,

[59] Florian Eder and Gabriel Rinaldi, “Berlin Bulletin: Scholz won’t be lectured,” Politico, February 24, 2023,

[60] Do Rzeczy, „Ukraina może nie dostać wszystkich czołgw, które obiecał jej Zachód" [Ukraine may not get all the tanks that the West promised], February 16, 2023, ukraina-moze-nie-otrzymac-wszystkich-obiecanych-czolgow.html.

[61] Seth G. Jones, Colin Wall, and Rachel Ellehuus, Europe’s High-End Military Challenges: The Future of European Capabilities and Missions (Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2021); and Marek Budzisz, Samotność strategiczna Polski [Poland’s Strategic Loneliness] (Warszawa: Zona Zero, 2022), 206–209.

[62] Sabatino, “The European defence fund,” 138.

[63] Hugo Meijer and Stephen G. Brooks, “Illusions of Autonomy: Why Europe Cannot Provide for Its Security If the United States Pulls Back,” International Security 45, no. 4 (2021): 7–43.

[64] Clea Caulcutt, Hans von der Burchard, and Jacopo Barigazzi, “When will Europe learn to defend itself?” Politico, September 27, 2022,

[65] Olivier Schmitt, “« Il ne faut pas humilier la Russie » : La formule et ses implications politico-stratégiques,” Le Rubicon, June 16, 2022,

[66] Reuters, “Macron says new security architecture should give guarantees for Russia,” December 3, 2022,

[67] tagesschau ARD 1, “Nicht eskalieren und nicht nachgeben,” August 21, 2022,

[68] Arianna Antezza, Frank Andre, Frank Pascal, Franz Lukas, Kharitonov Ivan, Kumar Bharath, Rebinskaya Ekaterina, and Trebesch Christoph, “The Ukraine Support Tracker: Which Countries Help Ukraine And How?” Kiel Working Paper (2022): 25.

[69] Euronews, “Ukraine war: Poland’s surprise move to reject German air defence system causes stir,” November 25, 2022,

[70] Do Rzeczy, „Wojna na Ukrainie.”

[71] Tomasz Grzegorz Grosse, “Consequences of the war in Ukraine – the EU perspective,” Strategy & Future, April 5, 2022,; and Tomasz Grzegorz Grosse, “The challenge for the EU’s defence policy,” The Sobieski Institute, October 18, 2022,

[72] Konrad Szymański and Piotr Arak, “In defence of the European single market,” EURACTIV, February 3, 2023,

[73] Stephen M. Walt, “The Top Five Lessons From Year One of Ukraine’s War,” Foreign Policy, February 9, 2023,