War in Ukraine Has Changed Europe for Good

As for NATO membership, it seems inconceivable so long as Ukraine is at war with Russia.

“I don’t think any NATO country thinks that a country fighting a war in Russia can join NATO,” said Petri Hakkarainen, the chief diplomatic adviser to Mr. Niinisto, the Finnish president.

Here lies a European dilemma that seems likely to grow. “A frozen conflict suits Putin,” said Mr. Delattre, the French ambassador to Germany. “A partially occupied, dysfunctional Ukraine cannot advance toward Europe. So of the three possible outcomes to the war — a Ukrainian victory, a Russian victory and a stalemate — two favor Putin.”

Of course, an increasingly repressive Russia under severe sanctions and a leader who is a pariah throughout the Western world, with no path to economic reconstruction, will also suffer from a prolonged conflict. But the limits to the Russian capacity to absorb pain are not easily discerned.

“Russia is not willing to lose, and human life does not matter to Mr. Putin, so they can keep the war going for a long time,” Mr. Kuusela said. “Ukraine, in turn, will remain in the fight as long as the West supports it.”

He paused before concluding, “It will be a hard stalemate to break.”

The contrast between the post-World War II narratives of Poland and Germany, former enemies and still tense partners, is striking. Poland has never been less than acutely conscious of the Russian threat. Germany, racked by guilt, bought cheap Russian gas and waved away the threat of Mr. Putin.

Anti-German sentiment has swept Poland, which sees Berlin as too hesitant in its support of Ukraine, to the point that Germany’s supposed fickleness, at least in the eyes of the nationalist ruling party, is now a central theme of this year’s Polish parliamentary election.

European unity in the face of the war does not mean fissures have disappeared. Nowhere has the war in Ukraine been more challenging or transformative than in Germany.

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