Thursday , May 19 2022
Home / Europe

Europe



Articles by Europe

Mariupol’s last Ukrainian defenders begin to surrender

2 days ago

LIKE UKRAINE itself, they had defied the odds, holding out when most thought it would be impossible. But on May 16th the troops holed up in tunnels beneath the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, a Ukrainian port city, began to capitulate. By the end of the day 264 Ukrainian fighters had surrendered to surrounding Russian units, according to Ukraine’s defence ministry. Of those, 52 were severely wounded and evacuated to a hospital in Russian-occupied territory. Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, said they would be exchanged for Russian prisoners of war when their condition stabilises. Whether that will happen is not clear. Nor is the fate of the 212 other Ukrainians who surrendered—or that of the hundreds of fighters, possibly over one thousand, believed still to be inside

Read More »

Meet Elisabeth Borne, France’s new prime minister

2 days ago

IN 2022 it ought to be unremarkable for a woman to be appointed to run a European government. Yet the nomination on May 16th of Elisabeth Borne as the next prime minister of France was anything but. It is the first time for 30 years that a woman has held the post in France, and only the second time ever. The previous one, Edith Cresson, appointed by François Mitterrand, did not last a year in the job. As Ms Borne took over from Jean Castex on the evening of her nomination, she dedicated her appointment to “all the little girls” in France, telling them to “follow your dreams”.Such folksy utterances are atypical of Ms Borne. An engineer by training, and career technocrat, the 61-year-old is better known as a no-nonsense details person who gets on with the job. Ahead of France’s parliamentary

Read More »

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is running out of steam, again

3 days ago

EIGHTY YEARS ago the second Battle of Kharkov was raging in what was then the western Soviet Union. The Red Army had heroically driven the Nazi Wehrmacht back from the gates of Moscow. It gathered in a bulge west of Izyum, a town to the south of Kharkov, as Ukraine’s second city was then known. The subsequent Soviet offensive, launched on May 12th, was a disaster. Soviet armies were driven back and encircled. Over 170,000 Soviet troops were killed. Nikita Khrushchev later focused on the battle when denouncing his predecessor as Soviet leader, Stalin. “This is Stalin’s military ‘genius’,” he sneered, citing the crude tactics of frontal assault. “This is what it cost us.”The Russian army is once again gathered around Izyum. And once more it is on the retreat from Kharkiv, as the city is now

Read More »

A new alliance boosts the left ahead of France’s parliamentary elections

6 days ago

IN A POLITICAL takeover that upends the past half-century’s political order, the radical French left has swallowed the centre-left. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a 70-year-old firebrand with a gift for oratory and a fondness for Latin American autocrats, launched on May 7th an electoral alliance ahead of next month’s parliamentary elections. Snappily named the “New Popular, Environmental and Social Union”, or NUPES, its main purpose is captured in his election poster: “Mélenchon, prime minister”. To the dismay of old-time moderates, the Socialists and Greens (as well as the Communists) have officially signed up.Listen to this story.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Your browser does not support the element.Listen to this storySave time by listening to our audio articles as you

Read More »

Europe’s handling of war on its doorstep breaks a decade-long streak of fumbled crises

6 days ago

IT TOOK FOUR horsemen to mete out God’s apocalyptic punishment. The biblical wrath conveyed by two of them will sound familiar to Europeans worn down by disease and now war in Ukraine. But a mere quartet of steeds would not have sufficed to deliver the calamities the EU has had to contend with in the past decade or so. No fewer than five crises have befallen the continent in that time: in addition to covid-19 and fighting on its doorstep, Europe has been visited by the protracted euro-zone slump, soon followed by a migration emergency and then Brexit. Any normal polity would be worn down by living in near-perpetual crisis mode for so long—not least since the episodes rarely showed the EU at its best. It is only the war in Ukraine that the bloc has handled remotely deftly. Is it possible

Read More »

What Russia’s Victory Day celebrations say about the war in Ukraine

6 days ago

THE RULE of Vladimir Putin, a former KGB operative turned dictator, rests on lies, violence and militarism. And on May 9th, the day marking the Soviet Union’s victory in the second world war, all three of those traits were paraded on Moscow’s Red Square. Mr Putin has long hijacked the victory over Nazi Germany and built it into something resembling a religious cult to serve his regime. Now he is invoking it as he fights his war against Ukraine and anyone inside Russia who stands in his way. As Ben Wallace, the British defence secretary, said in a speech of his own on the same day, Mr Putin and his generals “are now mirroring the fascism and tyranny of 77 years ago…resplendent in their manicured parade uniforms, weighted down by the gold braid and glistening medals.”Listen to this

Read More »

“Borgen” returns after a decade to a pessimistic Europe

6 days ago

THE DANISH TV series “Borgen” introduced Europe’s madly intricate coalition politics to viewers in simpler lands such as America and Britain. The show’s first three seasons, which aired in 2010-13, followed Birgitte Nyborg (played by Sidse Babett Knudsen), leader of the fictional Moderates, as she became Denmark’s first female prime minister, then resigned and founded a new party. Striking compromises and pursuing liberal values, Nyborg was a heroine for her time. American Democrats wishing for Danish-style health care (or at least hygge and cardamom buns) fell in love. Soon Denmark had a real female prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt.Listen to this story.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Your browser does not support the element.Listen to this storySave time by

Read More »

The Social Democrats suffer crushing defeat in Schleswig-Holstein

6 days ago

“OF COURSE THE result is bitter,” said Saskia Esken, putting it mildly after the cataclysmic defeat of her Social Democratic Party (SPD) at a state election in Schleswig-Holstein on May 8th. Yet the co-chair of the party insisted that despite the worst score in its history in a place that was once a stronghold, the SPD can still win the vote that really counts, in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany’s most populous state, on May 15th.Listen to this story.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Your browser does not support the element.Listen to this storySave time by listening to our audio articles as you multitaskOKThe centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Daniel Günther, the incumbent state premier, won 43.4% of the vote in Schleswig-Holstein, up more than 11

Read More »

Sweden is following Finland’s lead on joining NATO

7 days ago

Finland has been a byword for non-alignment ever since the cold war, when the Soviet Union forced it to remain neutral. As recently as January, Sanna Marin, the prime minister (pictured, right), declared it “very unlikely” her country would join nato during her current term of office. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has upended many predictions. On May 12th Ms Marin and Sauli Niinisto, the president, both declared that Finland “must apply” for membership in the Atlantic alliance as soon as possible. The country’s coalition government is expected to approve that decision on May 15th, and a formal request will probably follow next week. Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine, intended to push nato back from Russia’s borders, has instead brought it closer.The Finns co-ordinate their defence

Read More »

It will be hard for Ukraine’s economy to sustain a long war

9 days ago

FOR SOMEONE trying to run an economy in the middle of an invasion, Serhiy Marchenko is oddly upbeat. The Russians may have occupied or blockaded his country’s main ports and forced the shutdown of most of its businesses, but Ukraine’s finance minister radiates calm. “The situation is very difficult, I am not going to minimise that,” he says over a latte in a slick café near his ministry. “But we can manage it.” When an air-raid siren interrupts the interview, he simply ignores it.Reasons not to panic are quite numerous. Ukraine went into the war in good shape, with an economy growing at an annualised quarter-on-quarter pace of almost 7%, a population that had not been hit hard by covid-19, good international prices for its exports of grain, iron and steel, a well-supervised banking

Read More »

Ukraine spoils Vladimir Putin’s May 9th parade

10 days ago

For the past week, shiny Russian tanks have rumbled down Tverskaya Street, Moscow’s main drag. Thousands of soldiers have marched across Red Square under Soviet flags as fighter planes buzzed above the city. All were preparing for the parade on May 9th, Russia’s annual celebration of its victory in the second world war. Vladimir Putin has portrayed his barbaric war against Ukraine as a continuation of the Soviet war against Nazi Germany. The Victory Day parade had been billed as a crucial moment in the war, a military showcase which Mr Putin could use as a substitute for success on the battlefield—or, alternatively, as a moment to declare he is mobilising the nation’s reservists to redouble the war effort. In the event, he made no big announcements.But while the world waited to hear what

Read More »

Why the military parade on May 9th matters to Russia’s president

12 days ago

ON MAY 8TH 1945 in Berlin, the Wehrmacht’s remaining generals surrendered unconditionally to Marshal Georgy Zhukov, commander of the Red Army, and to representatives of the Allied powers in Europe, ordering their forces to lay down arms just before midnight. Because that fell in the early hours of the next day according to Moscow time, Russians ever since have celebrated May 9th as Den Pobedy (Victory Day), marking the final defeat of Nazi Germany. (Western countries generally mark the event on May 8th.) On the morning of May 9th 1945, Muscovites poured joyfully into the streets. Many congregated around the embassy of their American allies, embracing the soldiers stationed there as guards; one was reportedly tossed playfully in the air.This spontaneous outburst of popular feeling worried

Read More »

Europe’s hard-hit east is pushing the toughest response in Ukraine

13 days ago

WHEN RUSSIA invaded Ukraine, many eastern European countries responded with hawkish resolve, fearing they could be next. Their governments pushed for the EU to cripple Russia’s economy and dug deep into their own pockets (some deeper than western counterparts) to send Ukraine weapons and aid. Countries in the EU’s east have taken in most of the 5.6m refugees who have fled the war. But doing the right thing does not come cheap, and the economic fallout of being frontline states is starting to show.Listen to this story.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Your browser does not support the element.Listen to this storySave time by listening to our audio articles as you multitaskOKTrade was the first victim. Russia has been a big export market for some economies in the region. Trade

Read More »

Austria is rethinking its cosy ties with Russia

13 days ago

“DESPITE BEING a neutral country, Austria positioned itself very clearly,” says Karl Nehammer, Austria’s chancellor. Sitting in his offices at Vienna’s baroque Ballhausplatz, he says that Austria’s immediate backing of EU sanctions against Russia surprised many. Austria gave €60m ($64m) to NGOs to help Ukraine and donated helmets, protective vests and fuel. The small country has taken in 66,000 Ukrainian refugees. Mr Nehammer sees his visit to Vladimir Putin on April 11th to appeal for a ceasefire as part of that support.Listen to this story.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Your browser does not support the element.Listen to this storySave time by listening to our audio articles as you multitaskOKOthers thought the visit showed ambivalence. Indeed, Mr Nehammer’s backing of

Read More »

France’s re-elected President Emmanuel Macron wants to govern differently

13 days ago

CLASPING HANDS and squeezing shoulders, Emmanuel Macron lingered for hours amid a crowd of well-wishers in a little market town at the foot of the Pyrenees, just days after he was re-elected. At the end of a divisive campaign, the French president’s trip was designed as a show of healing and listening. The technocratic slayer of populism could still connect with the people, the visit implied, and the second-term president would now listen to them more, too. It was time, Mr Macron declared, for reconciliation, and a “new method” of consultative government: “We can’t resolve everything from là-haut (on high).”Listen to this story.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Your browser does not support the element.Listen to this storySave time by listening to our audio articles as you

Read More »

Odessa strives for normality despite Russia’s war

13 days ago

THE SUN is shining, the fountains are playing and Odessans are enjoying simple pleasures—most of all that of seeing their city come back to life. Primorsky (“Seaside”) Boulevard is still cordoned off, and the statue of the Duc de Richelieu, the city’s early-19th-century governor, is covered in sandbags. But the tank traps have been moved to the outskirts, where the lines of defence now lie.Listen to this story.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Your browser does not support the element.Listen to this storySave time by listening to our audio articles as you multitaskOKThe actual fighting has moved to Mykolaiv, some 130km away. Russian shelling left that city’s residents without water, so Odessans are sending them bottled water and food. In Odessa the main threat now comes from

Read More »

Spyware in Spain targeted the prime minister and his enemies

13 days ago

RESIDENTS OF SPAIN’S capital were expecting a quiet day off on May 2nd, a holiday commemorating Madrid’s uprising against Napoleon in 1808. They got a newsy one. For weeks the headlines had been consumed with a scandal known as CatalanGate. In April the New Yorker magazine and the Citizen Lab, an NGO at the University of Toronto, revealed that the phones of at least 67 people, nearly all associated with the Catalan separatist movement, had been infected with spyware, mainly a programme called Pegasus. They included Catalonia’s four most recent regional presidents. (Two others were Basque separatists.)Listen to this story.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Your browser does not support the element.Listen to this storySave time by listening to our audio articles as you

Read More »

Putin is failing in Ukraine but succeeding at oppressing Russia

15 days ago

A MAYBACH GLIDES out of a driveway gate in Prechistenka, a rich neighbourhood in Moscow. Young women from the suburbs pose for selfies next to a luxury apartment block. The Michelin-starred restaurants, though less full than last year, still enjoy a brisk trade. At first glance, Moscow’s wealth and hedonism seem almost unchanged despite Russia’s war against Ukraine, and the sanctions and isolation that have come with it. But it is not quite business as usual in Russia’s capital, however. The streets are quiet and the mood is subdued. Russians do not talk openly about the invasion of Ukraine, now entering its third month, but they are navigating a new reality of fear and anxiety. The Kremlin has not made much headway in its assault on Ukraine. But in its simultaneous imposition of

Read More »

Moldova is trying to stay out of Russia’s war with Ukraine

17 days ago

Listen to this story.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Your browser does not support the element.Listen to this storySave time by listening to our audio articles as you multitaskOKMAIA SANDU, Moldova’s slight, soft-spoken, pro-European president, seems a bit out of place in her country’s vast presidential palace. Originally the home of Moldova’s Supreme Soviet, it was built in the waning days of the Soviet Union to advertise the government’s authority in the second smallest of its 15 constituent republics. When the union collapsed and Moldova became independent, Russia backed a separatist rebellion in Transnistria, a mostly Russian-speaking region; up to a thousand people were killed. Russian troops remain (illegally) in the breakaway statelet, over which the Moldovan

Read More »

Artillery is playing a vital role in Ukraine

17 days ago

OTHER FLASHIER devices get more attention. The tank-busting Javelin is the star of various memes. The Turkish TB2 drone has its own catchy song. But no weapon has been more important in the war in Ukraine than artillery–and it is likely to become even more significant still in the coming weeks. An adviser to General Valery Zaluzhnyi, Ukraine’s top commander, recently explained how his forces halted the Russian advance on Kyiv. “Anti-tank missiles slowed the Russians down,” he said, “but what killed them was our artillery. That was what broke their units.” In the current fighting in southern and eastern Ukraine, where the two sides are more entrenched, artillery is even more pivotal. And the more sophisticated versions Western countries have started to give Ukraine could make all the

Read More »

France’s re-elected president prepares for a tough second term

20 days ago

STANDING BEFORE the illuminated backdrop of the Eiffel Tower on election night, Emmanuel Macron made history, and then a promise. In a run-off vote on April 24th that defied modern precedent, the 44-year-old centrist president was re-elected with 58.5% of the vote. He roundly defeated the nationalist-populist Marine Le Pen, who secured 41.5%. Mr Macron is now the only sitting president with a governing majority since the Fifth Republic was established in 1958 to have been re-elected by direct universal suffrage.Listen to this story.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Your browser does not support the element.Listen to this storySave time by listening to our audio articles as you multitaskOKIt was a personal triumph for Mr Macron, who has run for election only twice: each time

Read More »

A Turkish court sentences activist Osman Kavala to life in prison

20 days ago

OVER THE course of the war in Ukraine, Turkey’s government has earned some goodwill in the West by publicly opposing Russia’s invasion and by providing Ukraine with armed drones. On April 25th a lot of that goodwill went up in smoke, when a court in Istanbul handed Osman Kavala, one of Turkey’s most respected civil-society activists, a life sentence for “attempting to overthrow” the country’s government during protests almost a decade ago. Seven other defendants, accused of aiding Mr Kavala, were sentenced to 18 years each.Listen to this story.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Your browser does not support the element.Listen to this storySave time by listening to our audio articles as you multitaskOKTwo of those people, Can Atalay, a lawyer, and Mucella Yapici, an architect,

Read More »

Emmanuel Macron is now Europe’s standard-bearer

20 days ago

IN POLITICS, AS on the catwalk, fashions come and go. In Europe in the 1980s it was Britain that dazzled with its daring ideas, as Margaret Thatcher’s state-shrinking, red-tape-slashing policies inspired numerous imitators and even more furious protest songs. In the noughties came Germany’s turn. Sensible economic reforms helped firms there seize the new opportunities of globalisation, the better to sell unstructured Hugo Boss suits to upwardly mobile Russians and Chinese. Ideologically the 2020s belong to France. Its big idées—a scepticism of free markets, an acceptance of the state’s role in shaping everything from farming to culture, haughty declarations of independence from America—are vintage stuff. But like a Louis Vuitton clutch re-released to adoring fashionistas, this line of

Read More »

Ukrainian refugees need mental-health care that their hosts lack

20 days ago

YULIA MALINOVSKA looks from a window in a Warsaw office building where 400 Ukrainian women and children are being put up. As a plane crosses the sky she huddles over her eight-month-old daughter. Her eyes, fixed on the distance, turn to tears. “Every plane scares me now,” she sobs. She is safe, after escaping from a district of Kyiv that was hit by Russian planes, but her mind is still in turmoil. “The moment you accept your own death, something in you changes.”Listen to this story.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Your browser does not support the element.Listen to this storySave time by listening to our audio articles as you multitaskOKMore than 5m people have fled the Russian invasion, and many have carried with them trauma and loss. That has been compounded by the

Read More »

Drawing the war in Ukraine

21 days ago

Ben Jennings, February 18thIn this strip, published a week before the invasion, Ben Jennings reminds readers of the bromance between Donald Trump and Vladmir Putin.KAL, February 19thSurreal scenes at the Winter Olympics in Beijing as Vladimir Putin’s troops surrounded Ukraine, days before the invasion. By Kal, The Economist’s resident cartoonist.The Economist cover, March 2ndOur first cover after the invasion showed Mr Putin with war in his sights and on his brain. The accompanying leader asked: where will he stop?David Simonds, March 10thEspresso’s regular cartoonist, Dave Simonds, was commissioned to illustrate a story about how some Russians were using the letter “Z” to show support for Mr Putin and his war.Mari Kinovych, March 11thMari Kinovych, a Ukrainian artist, drew this

Read More »

Drawing the war in Ukraine

21 days ago

Ben Jennings, February 18thIn this strip, published a week before the invasion, Ben Jennings reminds readers of the bromance between Donald Trump and Vladmir Putin.KAL, February 19thSurreal scenes at the Winter Olympics in Beijing as Vladimir Putin’s troops surrounded Ukraine, days before the invasion. By Kal, The Economist’s resident cartoonist.The Economist cover, March 2ndOur first cover after the invasion showed Mr Putin with war in his sights and on his brain. The accompanying leader asked: where will he stop?David Simonds, March 10thEspresso’s regular cartoonist, Dave Simonds, was commissioned to illustrate a story about how some Russians were using the letter “Z” to show support for Mr Putin and his war.Mari Kinovych, March 11thMari Kinovych, a Ukrainian artist, drew this

Read More »

Why Gerhard Schröder won’t unfriend Vladimir Putin

21 days ago

WHEN RUSSIA invaded Ukraine on February 24th, some former European heads of government hurried to erase their personal business links to the country. Esko Aho, Christian Kern and Matteo Renzi—one-time leaders of Finland, Austria and Italy respectively—quit prominent roles on the boards of big Russian firms. Not so Gerhard Schröder. Germany’s former chancellor has retained his seat as head of the supervisory board of Rosneft, a Russian oil giant. He is nominated to join the board of Gazprom, the state-controlled gas exporter. Since 2016 he has been chairman of Nord Stream 2, an $11bn gas pipeline that would have doubled the undersea flow of gas between Russia and Germany (Olaf Scholz, the current chancellor, pulled the plug on it in February).Listen to this story.Enjoy more audio and

Read More »

A Turkish court sentences Osman Kavala to life in prison over protests in 2013

23 days ago

OVER THE course of the war in Ukraine, Turkey’s government had earned some goodwill in the West, by publicly opposing Russia’s invasion and by providing Ukraine with effective armed drones. On April 25th a lot of that goodwill went up in smoke, when a court in Istanbul handed Osman Kavala, one of Turkey’s most respected civil-society activists, a life sentence for “attempting to overthrow” the country’s government during protests almost a decade ago. Seven other defendants, accused of aiding Mr Kavala, were sentenced to 18 years each.Two of those, Can Atalay, a lawyer, and Mucella Yapici, an architect, stood inside the courtroom, facing a crowd of shocked onlookers, some of them wiping away tears, moments after hearing the verdict. “They will now take us to Silivri,” Mr Atalay shouted,

Read More »

An interview with Oleksiy Arestovych, military adviser to Ukraine’s presidency

24 days ago

YOU SEE his bodyguard first, but for a man so central to the war effort, Oleksiy Arestovych has a surprisingly light security footprint. “Some people get scared,” he says, “but I get excited by the opportunity. It’s cool.” Two months into fighting, the 46-year-old is a celebrity in any Ukrainian home with a TV set. His sardonic daily military updates have calmed the nation during some of its darkest hours, and even raised a few chuckles. Some describe him as a national antidepressant; others a sex symbol; detractors call him an accidental player, or even an impostor.Mr Arestovych’s journey to the war bunker is as improbable as that of his boss, President Volodymyr Zelensky—moving from jobbing actor and self-help psychologist to a place at the table defining his country’s history. He has a

Read More »

America is now thinking of “winning” the war in Ukraine

25 days ago

THEY CAME as Ukraine celebrated Easter, according to the Orthodox Christian calendar. They certainly did not bring peace. Yet the furtive visit to Kyiv, the capital, by Antony Blinken and Lloyd Austin, America’s secretaries of state and defence, brought hope of eventual salvation. “We don’t know how the rest of this war will unfold, but we do know that a sovereign, independent Ukraine will be around for a lot longer than Vladimir Putin is on the scene,” declared Mr Blinken.The Americans were not the first to visit wartime Kyiv; other leaders have already made the pilgrimage to meet Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president. Nor were the Americans the most flamboyant; they did not go for an impromptu walkabout in the city, as Boris Johnson, Britain’s prime minister, did on April 9th. And some

Read More »