Since Russia started its aggression against Ukraine in 2014, EU member states have lacked the political will to firmly contest Russia’s imperialism in the shared neighbourhood. This was concretized in the rejection of Ukraine’s EU path and the failure to build Ukraine’s military capabilities before 2022. The EU’s response to Russia’s full-scale invasion has been more successful than expected considering its limited capabilities and some past failures of international security assistance.

The West is, however, failing to equip Ukraine to win the war. This paradox of insufficient aid leaves Ukraine in limbo, whereby it is enabled to continue the defence effort but without adequate means to succeed.

In theory, the EU backs Ukraine’s strategy of non-negotiation with Russia, but the limited military support is pushing Kyiv towards peace talks. EU capitals continue to disagree over the extent to which Russia’s imperialist policies need to be suppressed, and whether small concessions could help to end the war in Europe.

Even in the scenario where Ukraine emerges from the war as a truly sovereign state, the risk of future Russian interference, combined with Ukraine’s particular vulnerabilities and the likely challenges of post-war reconstruction, cast a shadow over its immediate future.