Péter Techet für Napunk (Denník N) über „Patrioten für Europa“

Im Artikel der ungarischsprachigen Ausgabe der slowakischen Tageszeitung „Denník N“ analysierte Péter Techet die neue Fraktion „Patrioten für Europa“, welche im Europäischen Parlament mit rechtradikalen Parteien unter anderem auch aus Ungarn, Tschechien und Österreich entstanden war. Er meint, dass die neue Fraktion eigentlich ein Rebranding der früheren Fraktion „Identität und Demokratie“ (ID) darstellt, weil die meisten Mitgliederparteien aus dieser Fraktion kommen. Das Rebranding ermöglicht aber Viktor Orbán und Andrej Babiš, die bei der ID noch nicht dabei waren, die neue Fraktion als ihr Erfolg zu „verkaufen“. Dass auch Marine Le Pen letztendlich bei dieser Gruppierung blieb, wertete Techet als Entscheidung von Le Pen gegen einen moderaten Weg, den etwa Giorgia Meloni und ihre Fraktion „Europäische Konservative und Reformer“ (ERC) eingeschlagen hatte. Obwohl die neue Fraktion „Patrioten“ die drittstärkste Kraft im neuen Europäischen Parlament wird, rechnet Techet nicht damit, dass sie die europäische Politik wesentlich bestimmen kann, weil die informelle Koalition zwischen der Europäischen Volkspartei (EPP), den Sozialisten (S&D) und den Liberalen (Renew) weiterhin über die Mehrheit verfügt bzw. weil auch die rechtsradikalen Parteien, etwa in der Frage zum Ukrainekrieg, gespalten sind.

Der Artikel (auf Ungarisch) kann hier gelesen werden.

IDM signs Memorandum of Understanding with Verkhovna Rada

The IDM has recently deepened its relations with Ukrainian civil society by commencing a cooperation with the Ukrainian parliament. 

On 4 July 2024, IDM Director Sebastian Schäffer welcomed representatives from the Secretariat of the Verkhovna Rada and the USAID RADA Next Generation Program (RANG) to the Institute’s offices in Vienna. The delegation was led by Viacheslav Shtuchnyi, Secretary General of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.  

During the meeting, Schäffer presented the activities of the IDM, focusing on the Institute’s role in facilitating working and cultural relations between the Ukrainian government, NGOs and universities. The delegation then engaged in a roundtable discussion to explore possibilities of further collaboration with the IDM, including the possibility of continuing the successful cooperation with the Austrian Parliament in implementing Democracy Workshops in the region. Secretary General Shtuchnyi kindly presented Schäffer with a set of three commemorative coins. 

Later in the day, a Letter of Intent between the Austrian Parliament and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine regarding the aforementioned Democracy Workshops was signed by Wolfgang Sobotka, Speaker of the National Council of the Austrian Parliament, Harald Dossi, Secretary General of the Austrian Parliament, and Viacheslav Shtuchnyi. The IDM is mentioned as an implementing partner in the agreement.  

© Parlamentsdirektion/Johannes Zinner

Finally, the delegation visited the Europa Experience Vienna of the European Parliament, where Secretary General Shtuchnyi and Schäffer signed a Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of the Verkhovna Rada and the IDM. During the next five years, the memorandum foresees that both Parties organise conferences, assist each other in establishing cooperation in areas of mutual interest and coordinate the implementation of joint projects based on grants, competitions and other forms of involvement of international technical assistance. Furthermore, the memorandum mentions the possibility of creating joint educational and scientific programmes, of organising and conducting internships, consultations and professional development (on a contractual basis) as well as assisting in the establishment and development of relations with international organisations and foundations. 

“I am honoured and it is certainly one of the highlights of my career to have been able to sign this memorandum. It is our task now to fill this with concrete actions and continue our efforts to deepen the mutual cooperation with Ukraine,”

said Schäffer. The IDM highly values its collaborations with the Verkhovna Rada as well as the Austrian Parliament, where we are especially thankful to Katharina Stourzh and her team for the long-standing good cooperation. We are looking forward to engaging in continued work together! 

US Authorizes Ukraine to Strike Russian Targets: Expert Analysis on Moscow’s Response

ED News contacted IDM Director Sebastian Schäffer regarding the US permission to Ukraine to attack Russian territory with its weapons. Schäffer’s response was used in the article above, here is his full answer:

First of all it is not only a good idea, but a necessity to protect the people in Ukraine from the unjustified aggression of the Russian Federation. International law is also crystal clear, Kyiv can strike targets anywhere in Russia to prevent further attacks. That does of course not justify destroying civilian infrastructure like power plants, something that Moscow has been doing for 830 days and counting in whole Ukraine, especially intensifying these heinous war crimes recently. I have personally witnessed what just a few weeks of Russian occupation mean and I unconditionally would enable Ukraine to defend itself. Why the US and also European states like Germany have not allowed this until now eludes me. The decision comes late, has cost a lot of lives and caused immense damage and suffering, but better than never. I do not understand why it has taken so much time and I also do not see any particular reason for this change in policy, however, I do not believe that the fear of becoming a belligerent and/or the reaction from Russia was the primary reasoning behind it. Putin and his cronies have constantly threatened with consequences, nuclear strikes on Western cities are discussed on television, but we must not let us be intimidated by the regime in Moscow. The nuclear doctrine of the Russian Federation is quite clear, so is the retaliation should NATO territory be targeted, and as for Ukraine, I wonder what severe consequences should they fear? Sure there is always a possibility to further escalate, but the people in Ukraine are fighting for their survival, as Putin aims to annihilate the Ukrainian state.

How Can South Balkan Countries assist Ukraine in Obtaining Ammunition?

Ukraine needs weapons to effectively counter the Russian invasion. In the latest article on the IDM Blog, Rigels Lenja explores whether and how South Balkan countries could support Ukraine with ammunition, and why their stockpiles would be particularly valuable to Ukraine.

On 27 February 2024, the Ukrainian President landed in Tirana to hold a summit with the countries of Southeastern Europe (SEE) at the initiative of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama. The SEE-Ukraine summit was tended to increase the public support regionally and internationally for the Ukraine, and boost the regional weaponry production. Attendees at the summit were remarkably diverse. They ranged from the most outspoken supporters of Ukraine in SEE – Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Croatia all the way to the only European countries that did not adopt sanctions against Russia: Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (henceforth BiH). Followed by Moldova which is the second country in Europe with Russian troops on its territory.

The summit ended with a 12-point statement, considering the Russian attack against Ukraine as the biggest continental and regional security threat, flagrant violation of the UN Charter, and full support for Ukraine to join NATO and the EU. This was followed by the Ukrainian proposal to set up a Ukrainian-Balkans defense forum in Kyiv to boost weaponry production in the same style as the Kyiv-London, and Kyiv-Washington DC defense forum format. The summit fell short of mentioning sanctions or countermeasures to Russian propaganda, and malign actions in the region, due to the Serbian President Vucic’s request. Serbia and BiH are the only SEE countries who had not put any sanctions against Russia.

Win-Win Situation

The summit could have achieved a more favourable outcome if Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Turkey had attended. Global Firepower reported that Turkey possesses 1,747 artillery pieces (compare to USA with roughly 1,300), followed by Greece with 729 and Romania with 720.

The crucial issue is: can SEE countries provide Ukraine with any type of much needed assistance in its war against Russia? In financial terms, virtually all of these countries are unable to provide serious aid. The region has been confronted for quite some time confronted with a wave of Russian disinformation propaganda, and malign actions, as in the case of the coup d’état in Montenegro in 2016 to prevent the country’s accession to NATO, or Moscow’s ambassador in Sarajevo, who frequently inflames domestic disputes, as in March 2022 when he suggested that Russia would intervene if BiH joined NATO. The exchange between Kyiv and the Balkan capitals will not only benefit Ukraine but can also provide useful insight on how to confront Russian propaganda and malign actions or indeed track fighters joining Russia in eastern Ukraine.

Tracking Ammunition

Due to the redeployment of the Russian army and the shortage of ammunition reaching the Ukrainian front as a result of the West’s failure to deliver, Russia was able to stabilize the front and advance further.

However, the Balkan countries can provide the much-needed ammunition for Ukraine more effectively and quickly than the West. Bulgaria, one of the poorest EU countries, was reported to have delivered a third of the ammunition used by the Ukrainian armed forces and 40% of the diesel used by the Ukrainian military until March 2023. Since the beginning of the war, Bulgaria has allocated roughly $245 million of aid, followed by Croatia with $190 million. Bulgaria’s assistance played the most important part in preventing the Russian advance on Kyiv. The Czech initiative has raised enough money to buy or produce 800,000 pieces of 122 mm and 155 mm calibre artillery shells, displayed that also small countries can help Ukraine to obtain much needed weapon.

The SEE states were all either part of the Warsaw Pact (with the exception of Albania, which withdrew in 1968) or Yugoslavia, and were heavily militarized, producing and manufacturing a huge amount of armaments. Successor states of Yugoslavia were left with vast numbers of weapons after its collapse in the 90s, which was followed by a devastating civil war with more than 200,000 victims. In terms of civilian-owned weapons, Serbia and Montenegro are joint third place with 39.1 firearms per 100 inhabitants, topped only by the USA and Yemen. BiH, North Macedonia and Kosovo are in 10th, 12th and 13th place respectively.

The former members of the Warsaw Pact still have a significant amount of Soviet-era ammunition, which is being used extensively by Ukraine. In addition, Ukrainian soldiers are better prepared to use and deploy Soviet ammunition rather than hi-tech weaponry systems, which considering the limited time for training and usage by non-professional soldiers require too much time to learn how to use them. From this perspective, it would be beneficial for SEE offer their remaining Soviet ammunition to Kyiv, since these stockpiles are no longer needed. None of the countries in the area have military plans to invade or attack any of their neighbours, apart from Serbia’s attitude towards Kosovo. Sending this ammunition to Ukraine would reduce the defence budget spent on maintaining and safeguarding the stockpile.

How many artillery shells do the Balkan countries possess? The last report is from 2011, there is no new publication in the additional none of the SEE countries has an open public register of the weaponry they possess. In the last Small Arms Survey report from December 2011, Albania had around 2,500 tonnes of type 122-152 mm artillery shells, North Macedonia declared 16,000 units of 100 mm shells and 9,000 units of 128 mm shells. Serbia reported more than 30,000 units of 105 mm and 15,000 of 130 mm artillery shells. The leading arms and ammunition manufacturers in the region are Serbia, followed by Bulgaria and Turkey. Serbia is even reported to have supplied weapons and ammunition worth 14 million euros to Israel following the terrorist attack by Hamas on 7 October 2023.

The second step the region can take to provide support to Ukraine is to redeploy the armaments factories still in full operation. As this conflict has turned into a war of tranches, intensive artillery shelling which were elements that prevailed under Soviet military guidance, the Balkan countries possess expertise that could be of benefit to Kyiv. Albania, North Macedonia, and Bulgaria have old, outdated manufacturing facilities with few investments can return to operation. Even though Turkey has delivered Bayraktar drones, there is potential for more. Bulgaria is reported to have sold weapons to friendly, currently pro-Western states such as Algeria, Angola and Mozambique. In 1989, Bulgaria profited from selling weapons and ammunition for roughly $1 billion. Yugoslavia, the biggest arms producer in the region during the Cold War, is reported to have exported weapons to 67 countries worldwide, allegedly with an average profit of $ 400 million in the 1980s. The key is to track the countries that purchase these weapons and to rebuy them at a lower price.

The third step in supporting Ukraine is to track down Soviet munitions in third countries. Throughout the Cold War, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Albania and Romania were either exporting or donating huge volumes of Soviet or Yugoslavian-made weapons to African and Middle Eastern countries fighting anti-colonial wars at the time. In the period from 1955 to 1976 alone, the USSR and the communist states of Eastern Europe transferred arms and ammunition worth around $20 billion dollars through donations or arms deals, of which 77% went to the countries of the Middle East and 13% to African countries. SEE can now rebuy these weapons via regional or NATO mechanisms. The key is to track the countries that purchase these weapons and to rebuy them at a lower price.

While the Balkan countries may lack the capacity to expand their arms production, the West can assist in expanding Soviet-style weapons manufacturing, which the Ukrainian armed forces are able to use effectively, and quickly. It is also an obvious route for the USA or major European countries to avoid long-term domestic debates about the extent to which they can back Ukraine.


Dr. des. Rigels Lenja successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis in April 2024 at the Institute of Eastern and Southeastern European History at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. His research is primarily focused on dictatorship, modern warfare, religion and democracy.















FO° Talks: Where Is Ukraine Headed Now? What Does Europe Think?

IDM Director Sebastian Schäffer returned for another edition of FO Talks with Founder, CEO & Editor-in-Chief of Fair Observer, Atul Singh. This time they tackled the ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine, the current situation in the country as well as the different threat perceptions in the Danube Region. Having just returned from Uzhhorod and Lviv, Schäffer talked about his experiences also in comparison to his trip to Kyiv around the same time last year. While his stay in the capital was physically more dangerous, as there have been direct missile attacks, he felt the second trip to be much more psychologically draining. Having only been there for a couple of days each, one can only imagine how the constant attacks on the civilian infrastructure must be for the brave people living under these conditions in Ukraine. Schäffer also gave an assessment on the varying perspectives of countries in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe on the war. According to him they fall into three categories:

(1) governments in countries like Poland, Czechia, and the Baltics that have warned about the possible aggression coming from the Russian Federation,

(2) governments in countries that have to come to terms with this new reality, even if it is a painful and slow process, which would include France, Germany, and also Austria

(3) governments in countries that try to gain benefits for themselves like Hungary, Slovakia, and Serbia, which hopefully will at a certain point realize that they are at the wrong side of history.


Read the article here.

IDM Short Insights 35: Das OeAD-Kooperationsbüro in Lwiw (Lemberg)


Die neueste Folge der IDM Short Insights kommt aus der Ukraine, wo Andreas Wenninger das OeAD-Kooperationsbüro in Lwiw (Lemberg) leitet und sowohl die Herausforderungen als auch die Notwendigkeit der weiteren Arbeit auch während des russischen Überfalls erläutert. Wenninger ist zudem Leiter des Ukraine Office Austria, Sektion V – Internationale Kulturangelegenheiten, im Bundesministerium für europäische und internationale Angelegenheiten in Wien.

Sebastian Schäffer on Asharq News: Humanism cannot be blackmailed

Sebastian Schäffer was invited by Asharq News to comment on recent statements by the Hungarian government reiterating that their country does not want to participate in NATO operations to transfer weapons and train Ukrainian soldiers. The IDM Director pointed out that Viktor Orban is currently facing one of the biggest anti-government protests happening in the history of the country and that the bluntness of these statements and the harsher reactions are therefore directly related to the internal situation in Hungary. Schäffer also stressed that the Hungarian government has been very reluctant when it comes to the support of Ukraine before and has used the debate about the sanctioning packages within the European Union for its own benefit: 

“[…] they want to a certain extent to benefit from the suffering that is happening in Ukraine. And this is something that I really condemn, especially if we talk about a collective security organization like NATO and a collective value community like the European Union. I would like to know what Viktor Orban would think if he was the victim of an aggression and we were debating whether we should help him or not. He’s not in this position, of course […] he is in NATO, and he can ask for the support. Ukraine can’t do that. Ukraine needs to rely on solidarity. And I can tell you, two weeks ago, I went to Ukraine, and I saw how the people are suffering there, and I saw the constant air raid alarms. I’ve witnessed air raid alarms again while being in the country and we are denying them the basic capabilities […] to defend themselves. And the Hungarian government is using this as leverage for their own benefit,” Schäffer said on the Arabic-language television channel.  

He admitted that Hungary is a sovereign country and that their decisions have to be respected. “But I am criticising that Hungary is part of a collective security treaty organisation, NATO; Hungary is part of a value community, the European Union: but they are themselves violating the value community in the European Union and they are denying the basic security of not a NATO member, but a NATO partner country, Ukraine. And here again I would ask, is it really a sovereign decision to deny the basic rights to defend oneself if we at the same time also try to personally profit from such a situation? And this is a point where I would doubt that we should have a single country blackmailing all others at the expense of the Ukrainian people”, the IDM Director concluded. 


Watch the video (in Arabic) here. 

Lecture by Sebastian Schäffer “Dilemma of Simultaneity 2.0: how do we shape the future of the EU?“

Photos: Diana Popfalushi (OeAD/Lviv), Konstantin Polishchuk

On the 18th of April 2024, Sebastian Shäffer, Director of the Institut für den Donauraum und Mitteleuropa (IDM), gave an open lecture at the Faculty of International Relations of Ivan Franko National University of Lviv. This event was organised with the support of the Department of International Communications and Digital Diplomacy, the OeAD Kooperationsbüro Lemberg – Austrian Cooperation Office in Lviv, and the IDM.  

Regarding participants, the presentation was attended by scholars, lecturers of the Department of International Communications and Digital Diplomacy, along students who actively engage in research in the field of international relations and European politics. The moderator of the lecture was the Director of the Digital Diplomacy Lab, Associate Professor Kostiantyn Polishchuk. 

As for the content of his presentation, Sebastian Schäffer outlined the structural, institutional, political, and socio-economic features of the EU enlargement process, emphasising the current challenges caused by both the urgent need for internal EU reform and several external factors, in particular, the full-scale aggression of Russia against Ukraine. Schäffer presented in detail the regulatory and institutional framework for the development and functioning of the EU, particularly in the context of its enlargement. Moreover, the IDM-Director emphasised the new challenges for the (geo)political European community in the context of Russia’s attack against Ukraine, anti-systemic actions of individual state leaders (Hungary, Slovakia) and discussions on the role and place of the EU in the modern global security architecture. To conclude, the speaker paid particular attention to the comparative analysis of the negotiation processes of accession to the EU by different European countries, outlining the prospects of Ukraine’s integration into this organisation. 

Following his presentation, answering the participants‘ questions, Director Schäffer stressed the importance of the EU’s proactive position in the enlargement process, the need to improve the existing institutional and regulatory mechanisms, including bringing Ukraine’s legislation in line with these challenges, to eventually overcome the newest dilemma of simultaneity – multi-speed integration and uneven development of European countries in the context of growing global security challenges. 

Sebastian Schäffer on Asharq News about EUCO and Ukraine

IDM Director Sebastian Schäffer spoke on the Arabic-language television channel Aharq News about the results of the European Summit held in Brussels on 21 March regarding the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. The Saudi Arabian TV station also invited a speaker from Moscow, who started by expressing his frustration about his frozen pension fund with Citi Bank. Schäffer stated that it is interesting to hear that suddenly rule of law is demanded, while the Russian Federation has violated international law in Ukraine for more than a decade now.  

The legal possibilities of using Russian frozen assets in the EU to finance weapons for Ukraine among other things is currently debated among the Heads of State or Government in the Belgian capital. There seems to be a broader consensus, at least among the German political parties, to use the interest resulting from those assets, which adds up to around three billion euros per year.  

While it is only natural that decisions among 27 sovereign countries take longer, time is not on the side of Ukraine. However, the Russian Federation is not as united as the result of the presidential “elections” might suggest. Schäffer said that there are signs of the biggest manipulations in Russia for nearly 25 years. Vladimir Putin would of course still have won, but by a much lesser margin.  

The guest from Moscow argued that the economy of the Russian Federation is strong despite the sanctions and has been transformed to outproduce the West; he also declared that the attacks on his country from Ukraine will only further unite the Russian population behind Putin. The IDM Director responded that this might be the case, but even with the uncertainty of the support coming from the United States and the possibility of Trump returning to the White House next year, the EU member states have at least started to recognise the need to do more. As the Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas suggested, if every country provides at least 0.25 percent of its gross domestic product for military aid, the Ukrainians could outstrip Russia.  

Schäffer further mentioned that with all the lamenting coming from Moscow, we should not forget that the Kremlin heinously attacks the civilian population in Ukraine each and every day, causing death and destruction. They are solely responsible and have to face the consequences. 

Watch the video (in Arabic) here.

Is there a lesson to be learnt from Tucker Carlson’s interview with Vladimir Putin?

By Jack Gill

The geopolitical tectonic plates of Europe have shifted much over the last two years. Since Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, relations between Russia and the rest of Europe have been nought. But a recent interview by Tucker Carlson, the American conservative media personality, has shed new light on the Russian dictator’s mindset and, contrary to what some believed would embolden the European and American right’s growing respect for Vladimir Putin, has instead exposed Putin’s ideology-driven and manipulative tactics, which he uses to obscure the fact that he has no viable exit strategy from the situation into which he has dragged himself and his 143 million fellow Russians. 

He began at the beginning. For nearly half an hour, Putin gave Carlson a lecture on Russian history, from the ninth century until 2022. With his narrative grounded in the common ancestor state of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, Kievan Rus’, Putin believes that borders, in the traditional sense, do not apply in the ‘Russkiy Mir’ (Russian World). Instead, the East Slavic peoples, rather than existing as three independent sovereign states in the modern sense, supposedly belong to a civilizational spectrum that begins at the Polish border and ends at Vladivostok, in which everything should be controlled by the Kremlin in the name of the Russian nation. Troublingly similar to Adolf Hitler’s narrative on the unity of Germanic peoples under one ‘Reich’ ruled from Berlin, Putin’s ethnicity-based vision for a greater ‘Rus’ is a pipedream, which falls apart under deeper scrutiny.  

Putin’s narrative collapses when he explains his ‘denazification’ policy and uses it to justify the invasion of Ukraine. One can see in the interview that Putin himself does not seriously believe in this policy, and he struggles to describe it coherently. When Carlson asks Putin about Nazism in Ukraine, the only example Putin can give is the standing ovation given unwittingly by the Canadian Parliament, with Zelensky present, to an elderly Ukrainian man who had served in the Waffen SS during the Second World War. Of course, nobody knew during the event that he had served in the SS, and once it was revealed Canada was quick to repent for the embarrassing episode. Zelensky had certainly been unaware.  

But with such authoritarian manipulators, it’s just a plot point. Putin does not really believe that Ukraine is full of neo-Nazis, and nor, likely, does much of the rest of the Russian population. But as long as he keeps saying it, he can use it against Ukraine to delegitimise the existence of the state, justify its overthrow and glorify the Russian soldiers doing so as heroes, harking back to the Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany.  

Putin’s greatest ally, and the West’s greatest challenge, is time. Like all of his conflicts over the last two decades, from Georgia in 2008 to Ukraine in 2014 and again in 2022, Putin will ride out the storm as growing indifference replaces anger in public and political opinion in the West. He need only wait until Donald Trump enters the White House again in 2024, at which point the unconditional support for Ukraine will likely run out and pressure to negotiate will grow. Negotiations under such conditions would not be favourable for Ukraine. Ironically, Trump, the author of The Art of the Deal, may even volunteer to lead the negotiations himself.   

At that point, with the war over and Russia’s military resources significantly depleted, the dictator would likely focus his attention inwards, on ridding all political opponents and bringing on a societal ‘Russian Winter’. The recent murder of Alexei Navalny, Putin’s largest political opponent and critic within Russia, in an Arctic hellhole prison was as symbolic as it was terrifying. As a message to warn off anyone else inclined to challenge him, nothing could be more effective.   

Are there any lessons to be learnt from the interview? Yes, one. Based on the interview, we can see the huge strategic importance of narratives, and how they can be weaponised to justify the invasion of other countries. When Tucker asked Putin about his strategy towards the West, Putin stated that when he came to office in 2000, he asked then-US President Bill Clinton, hypothetically but seriously, what would happen if Russia wanted to join NATO. Clinton said he would speak to his advisers and get back to him. The answer was a firm ‘no’ as Russia failed to meet the fundamental entry requirements of NATO, such as “uphold[ing] democracy”, “making progress toward a market economy”, having military forces “under firm civilian control”, “be[ing] good neighbors and respecting sovereignty outside their borders”, and “working toward compatibility with NATO forces.”1 

Thenceforth Russia became a partner of NATO, but never with a membership perspective. And although a framework for cooperation was created over the following years, namely the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council, this did not succeed in preventing Russia from becoming a revisionist power or channelling the country onto some kind of Western path.  

Putin uses his narrative of Russia’s victimisation by NATO, as well as Ukraine’s supposed ‘rule by neo-Nazis’ and rightful place in the ‘Russian World’ to justify his violent actions. The use of such a narrative by a major power must ultimately fail if the rules-based order of international sovereignty is to prevail. Western countries should thus be aware that their perceived ‘denial’ of some countries to enter the EU or NATO can be spun into victimisation narratives, which, however wrongfully, can be used as leverage in international politics. 

The opinions expressed in this article represent the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDM.