The invasion of Ukraine continues to backfire on Russia politically. Instead of weakening Western alliances, as Russian President Vladimir Putin had hoped, the war has convinced former neutrals Finland and Sweden to seek membership in NATO. “The lesson here for European countries is that neutrality is no longer an option,” says Mai’a Cross, the Edward W. Brooke Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at Northeastern. “Essentially, neutrality doesn’t guarantee security.”
The war in Ukraine has crystallized a remarkable transformation of Europe that has been building since World War II, says Cross, as nations that were historically in conflict have realized they need each other militarily. The defiance of Putin’s war amounts to a long-awaited stand against autocracy, she adds.