Debate in the EU parliament
The EU is currently discussing foreign interference as a serious challenge. | Photo: © European Union 2021 – Source: EP | CC-BY-4.0

Debating Foreign Interference in a Multipolar World: Is the EU Becoming Illiberal?

The ways in which foreign interference by China, Russia and others are currently discussed in Brussels indicate that the EU is considering moving away from liberal principles in the area of international civil society support and the foreign funding of NGOs in particular. Based on a co-authored comment in the Heidelberg Journal of International Law, this blog post argues that it is helpful to read the current EU debate on foreign interference in the light of the ongoing, conflict-ridden transformation of the global order.


Map of Europe showing NATO member states, Russia and Ukraine.
Scholars like Mearsheimer have argued that the West is mostly to blame for the Russo-Ukrainian war. | Map source: (personal editing)

“Russian Self-Defense”? Fact-Checking Arguments on the Russo-Ukrainian War by John J. Mearsheimer and Others

In the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war, and in the wider Russo-Western conflict, both sides compete over international influence as well as over how Ukraine and Russia are governed. While most would agree with this general assessment, prominent scholars like John J. Mearsheimer and others have argued that the West caused these confrontations by aggressively expanding its influence and preferred regime type into Ukraine, thus forcing Russia’s hand. However, while Russia’s perceptions of NATO evidently played a role in its decisions, a recent study finds that Mearsheimer’s arguments are at best incomplete and at worst simply false.