Austria Commits To Neutrality, Even As Russia Destroys Ukraine

Room for geopolitical neutrality has shrunk across Europe since February 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine.

The continent’s evolving security architecture has prompted Sweden and Finland to abandon their historic non-alignment and even Switzerland is moving closer to NATO.

However, Austria continues to sit on the fence and Vienna has no plans to join NATO despite the ongoing war.

Austria, a European Union (EU) member, partners with NATO in various capacities and the country has become more integrated into the EU’s security framework.

In this context, some analysts label Austria as essentially a free rider, simply surviving by luck while remaining outside of NATO.

Nearly six months into the Ukrainian crisis, there is no serious debate in Austria about officially joining NATO.

Eighty percent of Austrians support staying out of the Western alliance while the spirit of neutrality remains popular among Austrian politicians across the spectrum.

On March 7, Chancellor Karl Nehammer, a conservative politician, tweeted that Austrian neutrality is “not up for debate” and the leader of the center-left Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPO), Pamela Rendi-Wagner, frequently calls Vienna’s neutrality “non-negotiable.”

The right-wing Austrian Freedom Party (FPO) has the same pro-neutrality position and so does the pacifist Green Party.

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