The threat to Europe’s security posed by Russia means the continent needs to strengthen its defense capabilities, said European Council President Charles Michel.

In an editorial published in European newspapers, the EU’s top official said that two years after Vladimir Putin’s all-out invasion of Ukraine, U.S. support for the continent could no longer be taken for granted.

“We can no longer rely on others or be at the mercy of election cycles in the US or elsewhere,” he wrote, referring to further military aid to Kiev that is being delayed in the US Congress.

“If we don’t get the EU response right and give Ukraine enough support to stop Russia, we will be next,” he added. “If we want peace, we must prepare for war.”

Charles Michel
The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on February 6, 2024. In an editorial published on Tuesday, he called on Europe to prepare for a conflict with Russia.


He said that the day Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the entire post-World War II security system changed forever and therefore “the EU must change quickly too.”

“It is now clear that Russia will not stop in Ukraine, just as it did not stop in Crimea ten years ago,” he said, pointing out that Moscow is targeting other territories such as Moldova, Georgia, the South Caucasus “destabilized”. Western Balkans and Africa.

Western leaders have warned that Putin will look beyond Ukraine. Dutch Admiral Rob Bauer, chairman of NATO’s military committee, said in January that members needed to prepare for a war with Moscow in the next 20 years.

US President Joe Biden warned in December that Putin would attack NATO after Ukraine. Military chiefs as well as the defense ministers of several NATO members – including Britain, Denmark and Poland – have also warned about the likelihood of war between Russia and the alliance.

After Russia’s election, in which Putin claimed to have won over 87 percent of the vote, he said of the war with the West: “Anything is possible in the modern world,” adding that this was “just one step from one all-out war will be away. “Third World War.”

Michel said if the EU doesn’t get its response to Russian aggression right, “we’ll be next.”

“We must therefore be defense ready and move to a ‘war economy mode’,” he said.

The former Belgian prime minister noted that although the European defense industry has increased its production by 50 percent since the start of the Ukraine war, the EU has not spent enough on security and defense “for decades.”

The EU still spends less on average than NATO’s target of two percent of GDP, while Russia’s defense budget this year is said to be at six percent.

“We are facing the greatest security challenge since World War II, so we must increase our defense preparedness,” said Michel.

He said profits from Russia’s frozen assets and a larger share of the European budget should be used to purchase military equipment for Ukraine. Issuing European defense bonds is a way to make it easier for industry to finance defense production, he added.

On Monday, EU foreign ministers agreed to provide Ukraine with an additional five billion euros ($5.5 billion) in defense aid this year under the European Peace Facility, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba announced.