Biden must advocate for Ukraine as Europe leans further right

Approximately 185 million voters in 27 European countries cast their votes last weekend to elect representatives to the European Parliament, the legislative branch of the European Union (EU).

Pres. Biden standing with prominent global leaders, including Italy’s Meloni and Macron of France, at the G7 summit in Italy just after the recent EU elections. AP

The election results showed a distinct shift to the right, especially in France and Germany, the two largest EU members. This shift will impact various European issues, particularly the green transition, which is now expected to progress at a slower pace. Additionally, it will affect the US, emphasizing the importance of American global leadership regarding Ukraine and Russia.

Last week’s events involved six competing “groups” in 27 national races, with the center-right European People’s Party retaining its lead with 189 seats, and the left-wing Socialists and Democrats holding the number-two position with 135 seats.

The Greens and the liberal Renew coalition, led by French President Emmanuel Macron, experienced significant losses. On the other hand, two conservative parties, one led by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and the other by potential French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, emerged as the biggest winners.

President Joe Biden downplayed the European shift, expressing the intention to maintain collaboration with the EU and nurture the existing strong relationship with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The impact of the election on Ukraine remains uncertain. Right-wing groups within Europe have diverse views on Russia and the level of support for Kyiv. While Meloni and her followers strongly back Ukraine, Le Pen’s coalition appears to be more skeptical or opposed. European opinions on Ukraine are influenced by national circumstances rather than traditional left-right ideology.

French President Emmanuel Macron and his Renew party faced significant losses in the EU elections. AFP via Getty Images

European attitudes towards the Ukraine conflict have remained relatively consistent over the past 18 months, varying across different countries. The election results may impact European leaders’ support for Ukraine, potentially affecting the ongoing conflict.

Rescue workers in Kharkiv aiding victims of a Russian bombardment. AFP via Getty Images

Two years ago, the US played a crucial role in supporting Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. However, Europe has increasingly taken the lead in providing aid and military support to Ukraine. The balance of support between the US and Europe has shifted, with Europe now taking a more active role in assisting Ukraine.

Giorgia Meloni of Italy with Pres. Biden, highlighting the essential role of American leadership in supporting Ukraine. REUTERS

Currently, Europe is advocating for tougher measures to support Ukraine, including supplying advanced weaponry, conducting strikes on Russian territory, and training Ukrainian fighters. While Biden has committed to continue supporting Ukraine, there are concerns about the level of commitment to achieving victory in the conflict.

The outcome of the EU elections may impact Europe’s resolve to defend itself against authoritarian aggression. The US may need to step in if Europe’s determination falters, emphasizing the need for strong American leadership in the face of global challenges.

Biden recently committed to providing military aid to Ukraine for the next 10 years. REUTERS

The US requires strong leadership akin to historical figures like Ronald Reagan, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy to navigate the current global challenges. American leadership is crucial in times of crisis, ensuring the country’s active role in shaping international affairs.

Tamar Jacoby is the director of the New Ukraine Project at the Progressive Policy Institute.

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