The last few weeks have revealed some impor­tant truths about Europe. Prior to the crisis in Ukraine, most Amer­i­cans and Western Euro­peans had become used to a Franco-​​German Europe. In this ver­sion of Europe, which was designed after World War II to dampen one of the greatest state rival­ries in his­tory, France and Ger­many made the deci­sions, and Europe’s center of gravity was squarely in the West. But, these days, the real action hap­pens fur­ther east. Ukraine, looking to over­come its Soviet past, was taking its first steps toward becoming one of the Euro­pean Union’s largest and most pop­u­lous mem­bers until Russia made its move to derail those plans. And Poland, for years con­sid­ered a junior member of the Euro­pean team, has risen as a leader by shep­herding nego­ti­a­tions between former Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Victor Yanukovych and the Ukrainian oppo­si­tion. In this new Europe, the Franco-​​German engine has been replaced by a Russo-​​German one: as the Euro­pean Union moves east­ward, set­tling its future bor­ders and bor­der­lands, it is Ger­many and Russia that will decide who is in and who is out — and under what terms.

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