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How Ukraine will change Europe's Indo-Pacific ambitions


The Russian invasion of Ukraine reinforces the reality that only France and the UK can lead a European contribution to Indo-Pacific security.

The war in Ukraine has dramatically refocused attention on Euro-Atlantic security. As European nations – alongside the US – have imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia and increased military support to Ukraine, this war will further complicate the already limited ability of Europeans to play a meaningful security role elsewhere.

It could be tempting to conclude that the renewed threat from Russia spells the end of Europe’s embryonic involvement in the Indo-Pacific. For example, the UK’s Integrated Review in 2021 had identified Euro-Atlantic security and Russia itself as the priority for London – and the outbreak of war in Europe seems only to further confirm this. Given limited resources, some analysts see the current war as confirmation that the idea of a ‘tilt’ to the Indo-Pacific was always a fantasy which now can no longer be sustained.

Other analysts argue that the two theatres – the Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific – are merging into one, especially if China and Russia become closer and as both regions roughly rely on US security guarantees. And because a growing threat from Moscow should not lead to complacency regarding other challenges, some form of European involvement in the Indo-Pacific is even more crucial.

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