Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said the world is “watching in disbelief” in the wake of the largest buildup of troops in Europe since “the darkest days of the Cold War.”
“The very reason that the European Union was once created is that we wanted to put an end to all European wars,” von der Leyen said at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.
The world has been watching in disbelief as we face the largest buildup of troops on European soil since the darkest days of the Cold War, “von der Leyen continued.
She added that the events “could reshape the entire international order.”
Highlighting Ukraine’s recent celebration of 30 years of independence, von der Leyen said there is an entire generation of Ukrainians born and bred in a free country who are now “confronted on a daily basis with external aggression and interference.”
“This is what the Kremlin’s policies mean in practice, to instill fear and call it security, demands to deny 44 million Ukrainians from deciding freely about their own future, to deny a free country’s right to independence and self determination,” she added.
“The consequences of this approach matter well beyond Ukraine.”
Speaking about Russia and China, von der Leyen said, “They seek a new era, as they say, to replace the existing international rules.”
“They prefer the rule of the strongest to the rule of law, intimidation and self-determination, coercion instead of cooperation.”
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Moscow was attempting to roll back history and recreate its sphere of influence.
“The current crisis demonstrates the importance of the transatlantic relationship for European security,” Stoltenberg said at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.
“If the Kremlin’s aim is to have less NATO on its borders, it will only get more NATO and if it wants to violate them, it will always get an even more united alliance,” said Stoltenberg, stating earlier that NATO was a defensive alliance and “will take all necessary measures to protect and defend.”
“Over the last years, our security environment has fundamentally changed for the worse. Peace cannot be taken for granted. Freedom and democracy are competitive and strategic competition is on the rise. ”