“None of the European states are safe”: guest of honor at the Paris Defense and Strategy forum, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda had strong words during his speech to inaugurate the show. Organized Wednesday and Thursday by the Defense Academy of the Military School (ACADEM), a very young organization linked to the Ministry of the Armed Forces, this event aims to become a new space for European dialogue on strategic questions, like the Munich Security Conference. For two days, more than 2,500 people from different backgrounds set foot on the cobblestones of the Military School. University researchers, science fiction authors, politicians, soldiers and diplomats were able to discuss security issues together. In the “agora” tent set up for the event, however, the high-ranking officers did not linger.

Whatever the themes discussed, from the Sahel to cyber, the war in Ukraine remained on everyone’s minds. “It’s not really about Ukraine, it’s about us. The war in Europe cannot be stopped by sitting quietly,” the Lithuanian president continued. Two weeks ago, Gitanas Nauseda was one of the only leaders to support Emmanuel Macron when the French head of state raised the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine, saying that “nothing should be ruled out.”

“The world before 2022 no longer exists. Neither does the spring 2022 one. We must think collectively about this new world,” declared General Benoît Durieux, president of Academ. This objective was reaffirmed by the Minister of the Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu, who, after canceling his participation on Wednesday morning, visited the forum on Thursday: “We are in the process of reinventing a French-style place for reflection and sharing.” Referring to a “Cold War type atmosphere” which is emerging again at the international level, he stressed the need for Europe to “regain power”.

From round table to round table, several speakers took stock of the situation on the Ukrainian ground. While some highlighted the strength of kyiv’s forces in adapting, concern prevailed. “Ukraine will not be able to regain its lost territories unless Putin’s regime collapses,” General Michel Yakovleff said. Ukraine must not lose, insisted in his closing speech, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, General Thierry Burkhard. “The exit point from the war in Ukraine concerns more than the fate of Ukraine. This concerns the security of the continent,” he said in a firm tone. To resist Russia’s destabilizing action, the general insisted on the need to establish European strategic autonomy: “Because of Russia’s attitude, we must consolidate Europe’s security architecture.” .

A sign of the warrior spirit of the moment, the general appeared in military fatigues on the podium of the Foch amphitheater. Insisting on the “credibility” of French forces, he assured that the armies were always capable of acting “autonomously” if necessary. “I can’t tell the president, we are alone so we can’t do anything,” he said. The Chief of Staff said he was ready to take “action” to “win the war before the war”: “There is today an urgent need for action to get ahead of our adversaries. We must act to prevent harmful events from happening,” he concluded, as if echoing the president’s comments on a possible military presence in Ukraine. “The risk of inaction is even greater,” he concluded as a warning.