Snyder's first message to Europe’s leaders and nations was that the current set of sanctions against Russia were “remarkable but insufficient.”
Moreover, he questioned Europe’s meek efforts towards saving Ukraine from the “cynical world of autocrats and oligarchs” represented by Russia’s model in the “contest of ideas” against its own crucial advantage – the rule of law.
So rather than worry about Greece to the tune of hundreds of billions in bailout funds, the EU should be vesting at least in the tens of billions of euros towards “exporting rule of law to Ukraine” and helping “repair a corrupt state”.
Snyder warned that Europe shouldn’t assume that its cherished institutions could not be “taken apart” from its constituent elements thanks to Russia’s efforts to “break things down” from outside, even from its relatively weakened position. Indeed, that is precisely its long-term strategy, he said, the “exporting of Russian problems to other places”.
“There’s no one message, just a sowing of general skepticism, undermining the sense of truth and trust in civic society, and spreading the idea of the world being run by mysterious forces of conspiracy,” Snyder said.
It was a “total fantasy to believe that the US made the Maidan Revolution. The important thing is that the Ukrainians made the Maidan,” he added.
“The EU is not fated to exist, it can be taken apart,” he said.
But, he argued, the EU must realize that it must strive to introduce the rule of law model in its smaller neighbors rather than try to affect the processes inside Russia, which is “too big and too much of a tyranny.”
He recalled that the 1930’s, though similar from the perspective of the war already broken out between Russia and Ukraine, were “a really bad time, the main difference is that Europe is a very different place and many have forgotten how bad the 30s really were.”
“Europeans aren’t nice by nature,” he argued. “They just have great institutions. You’re not better or smarter than you were in the 1930’s, you have better institutions.”
As for his fascination with the history of crimes against humanity during times of war, Snyder compared the lawless situation in Ukraine’s Donbass region now with his characterized World War II “bloodlands” - “zones where the pre-war states were wiped out and the rule of law was gone, and new forms of politics were created within the abyss.”
Timothy Snyder’s next book Black Earth, a general history of the Holocaust, is due for release in September of this year.