The War Is Reshaping How Europe Spends 俄烏戰爭重新形塑歐洲支出分配
Nicolae Ciuca spent a lifetime on the battlefield before being voted in as prime minister of Romania four months ago. Yet even he did not imagine the need to spend millions of dollars for emergency production of iodine pills to help block radiation poisoning in case of a nuclear blast, or to raise military spending 25% in a single year.
"We never thought we'd need to go back to the Cold War and consider potassium iodine again," Ciuca, a retired general, said through a translator at Victoria Palace, the government's headquarters in Bucharest. "We never expected this kind of war in the 21st century."
Across the European Union and Britain, Russia's invasion of Ukraine is reshaping spending priorities and forcing governments to prepare for threats thought to have been long buried — from a flood of European refugees to the possible use of chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons by a Russian leader who may feel backed into a corner.
The result is a sudden reshuffling of budgets as military spending, essentials like agriculture and energy, and humanitarian assistance are shoved to the front of the line, with other pressing needs like education and social services likely to be downgraded.
The most significant shift is in military spending. Germany's turnabout is the most dramatic, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz's promise to raise spending above 2% of the country's economic output, a level not reached in more than three decades. The pledge included an immediate injection of 100 billion euros into the country's notoriously threadbare armed forces. As Scholz put it in his speech last month, "We need planes that fly, ships that sail and soldiers who are optimally equipped."
"It's our responsibility to take measure to protect ourselves," said Ciuca, the Romanian prime minister. No one knows how long the war in Ukraine will continue, "but we have to reassess and adapt to what might happen in the future," he added. "We have to be prepared for the unexpected."
In the tense weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, Russian officials denied that it planned anything of the sort, denouncing the United States and its NATO allies for stoking panic and anti-Russian hatred. When it did invade,
Since then, the Kremlin has cycled through a torrent of lies to explain why it had to wage a "special military operation" against a sovereign neighbor. Drug-addled neo-Nazis. Genocide. American biological weapons factories. Birds and reptiles trained to carry pathogens into Russia. Ukrainian
forces bombing their own cities, including theaters sheltering children.
Disinformation in wartime is as old as war itself, but today war unfolds in the age of social media and digital diplomacy. That has given Russia — and its allies in China and elsewhere — powerful means to prop up the claim that the invasion is justified, exploiting disinformation to rally its citizens at home and to discredit its enemies abroad. Truth has simply become another front in Russia's war.
Using a barrage of increasingly outlandish falsehoods, President Vladimir Putin has created an alternative reality, one in which Russia is at war not with Ukraine but with a larger, more pernicious enemy in the West. Even since the war began, the lies have gotten more and more bizarre, transforming from claims that "true sovereignty" for Ukraine was possible only under Russia, made before the attacks, to those about migratory birds carrying bioweapons.
Russia's message has proved successful domestically, where the Kremlin's claims go unchallenged. Surveys suggest a majority of Russians support the war effort. Internationally, the campaign has seeped into an information ecosystem that allows them to spread virulently, reaching audiences that were once harder to reach.
As the war in Ukraine drags on, however, casualties are mounting, confronting families in Russia with the loss of fathers and sons. That could test how persuasive the Kremlin's information campaign truly is.
The Soviet Union sought to keep a similar veil of silence around its decadelong quagmire in Afghanistan in the 1980s, but the truth seeped into public consciousness anyway, eroding the foundation of the entire system. Two years after the last troops pulled out in 1989, the Soviet Union itself collapsed.