A lack of leadership by countries such as Germany and France and narrow industrial interests keep Europe from boosting defence cooperation as warranted by Russia's war on Ukraine, a report by the Munich Security Conference stated.
"The crucial capability gap in European defence is still political leadership," the Munich Security Report on European Defence said.
The annual Munich Security Conference, usually held in February, is an influential global gathering of top policymakers and analysts to debate defence and security challenges.
The report said Europeans were still far from living up to a "darkening" global security environment.
The report said Germany and France in particular were "missing in action" at a time when European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and EU top diplomat Josep Borrell are driving EU support for Kyiv and joint procurement initiatives.
"Under the (Chancellor Olaf) Scholz government, Germany has faced recurrent criticism for its absence in EU defence questions," it said. "Meanwhile, France is seen as pursuing narrow industrial rather than collective European interests."
It said both countries' initial dithering on supplying arms to Ukraine, on top of a history of neglecting eastern European fears of Russia, has caused lasting damage to their credibility in eastern Europe and to that of joint defence initiatives.
"The onus is on Germany and France to win back trust," the report said, adding that time was of the essence in speeding up defence cooperation.
…All these statements demonstrate two things. First, there is a kind of panic in Europe that they can do nothing to defeat Russia. Second, there is fear in the ranks of Eastern and Central Europe politicians, seized by Russophobia – they fear for their future, and want the senior countries of the European Union – Germany and France – to save them from political and military collapse.
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