Europe backs Britain – and itself

After the attempted killing of civilians in Britain with a Russian nerve agent, the EU backs London and plans actions against the Kremlin. The Continent’s solidarity is a measure of its democratic values.

AP Photo
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, center, is flanked by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, before their meeting at the European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, March 22. Theresa May won the backing of 27 other European Union leaders in blaming Russia for the poisoning of a former spy on English soil.

Russia’s drive to create dissent among Western democracies just hit an unexpected speed bump.

On Friday, the European Union agreed that Russia was “highly likely” to be responsible for the poisoning of a former spy and his daughter in Britain earlier this month. And not only that, but most EU states say they plan to take action against the Kremlin. The bloc stands against the attempted murder of civilians with a military-grade nerve agent on EU soil.

Europe, in other words, will not allow itself to become like Syria’s chemical battleground.

Britain has already expelled 23 Russian diplomats, while EU leaders announced they will recall the bloc’s ambassador to Moscow because of the “grave challenge to our shared security.” Next week, other EU members plan similar steps on their own.

“I think it is clear that Russia is challenging the values we share as Europeans, and it is right that we are standing together in defense of those values,” said British Prime Minister Theresa May.

The EU’s “unqualified” support is especially noteworthy because of its ongoing differences with Britain over the terms of that country’s exit from the Union, or Brexit. It is also surprising given that a few EU members, such as Greece and Hungary, tend to side with Russia on many issues.

As more countries like Russia favor authoritarian rule, Europe may be waking up to the need to better embrace a rules-based international order and the democratic values that undergird it.

Leaders such as President Vladimir Putin who fear dissent at home often need to create enemies abroad. Since 2014, Russia has hacked apart Ukraine and hacked into the computer centers of several European countries. It also has a recent record of military intimidation and state-sponsored assassinations.

Such actions are more a sign of weakness than strength. Thus the response by the EU, as a club of democracies, points to the strength of its values rather than any threat of physical retaliation. It also signals a further containment of Russia, as during the cold war, while leaving a door open for the Kremlin to change its stripes.

The EU was founded to end wars on the Continent. And its solidarity around core peacemaking values has long been its best defense. Even with one foot out of the door, Britain may have seen what the EU is all about.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Europe backs Britain – and itself
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today