European security has entered a period of intense fragility. Three broad factors are now at play. Taken together, they make it all the more difficult to implement coherent responses.

A Russian rejection of the West

First, the Russian government has become bolder in its rejection of the West. It has declared war on the eastward spread of norms and structures of the Western liberal order, represented by the European Union and NATO.

It has threatened to cut gas flows and has used military force to stymie Ukraine’s efforts to link up institutionally with the EU – its annexation of Crimea and military intervention in the Donbass in 2014, and continued support for separatist groups there, keeps the government in Kyev on the back foot. At the same time, the fruitless attempts to implement the 2015 Minsk II Agreement risk delaying much-needed EU-supported economic and institutional reforms in the country.