The Russian wake-up call to Europe. French, German and British security priorities


  • Anna Sundberg
  • Johan Eellend
  • Niklas Rossbach

Publish date: 2016-06-09

Report number: FOI-R--4270--SE

Pages: 157

Written in: English


  • France
  • the UK
  • Germany
  • European great powers
  • Russia
  • Ukraine
  • security policy
  • defence policy
  • threat perception
  • EU
  • NATO
  • reassurance.


This study analyses whether and how the three European great powers - France, the UK and Germany - have reacted to and remodelled their respective security and defence policies to the current security threats, especially Russia's challenge to the European security order. Neither of the three views Russia as a direct threat to its territory or national security. The ongoing reforms in their defence and security policies are not triggered by Russia. Still, their understanding is that Russia has undermined the European security order and that its position has changed from being a partner to an internationally unreliable actor and a potential threat to their allies. France, the UK and Germany are all committed to NATO's military reassurance in the Baltic Sea region. But it is terrorism that is the primary threat and part of their attention and resources is directed to the southern flank. This engagement may affect NATO's eastern and northern flank since all three are militarily overstretched. Still, Germany is caught up with its commitment to Northern and Eastern Europe through its geographic location, the UK's commitment to NATO have led to increased attention to Baltic security, and France is set to continue its engagements in the region, although to a lesser extent than originally planned. Common to France and the UK is their perception of great powers with global reach and finding it hard to make strategic choices. Germany international role has increased and the country seams more willing to use force as a foreign policy tool. Concerning the conflict in Ukraine, none of the three envisage a military solution. Diplomacy and negotiations are the way forward.