Is Europe Losing Patience with Zelenskyy?
24 August 2022
On the streets of cities all over Germany and Italy demonstrations are taking place calling for an immediate end to the European policy of arming Ukraine in its war against Russia. Anti-war protests have been happening across Europe from the beginning of the conflict (24 February 2022), but, as the adverse economic effects of the European Union’s sanctions against Russia start to bite ordinary working Europeans and as winter approaches, these protests are growing stronger. The popular calls in Germany for the government and media to quit ramping up the Russophobia in April have, as the sanctions have continued to backfire, transformed into a mass movement demanding an end to the sanctions and an end to the arms transfer to Ukraine. In Italy, the anti-war movement mobilised even before 24 February — pointing to the clear provocation of NATO expansion as a serious threat to peace in Ukraine and to the peace and security of the whole of Europe.
Over the past six months Socialists in every part of the EU have united with anti-war groups, dissenters, and the growing number of ordinary people who are becoming increasingly alarmed by the effects this war and the sanctions against Russia are having on their lives. The limitation of oil and gas in the global economy has driven costs up, accelerating an already developing cost of living crisis; threatening less-well-off people with a bitter winter in which they will be unable to afford the basics of food, heating, and rent. Polling in the United States and the EU has demonstrated how out of touch western governments are with their citizens. Most North Americans and Europeans are not in favour of arming Ukraine and prolonging its war with Russia, yet all of these states have fallen into a terrifying lockstep with a Washington-led NATO policy designed to weaken and destabilise Russia. People are getting frustrated and they are taking to the streets.
Six months of a western information war (waged primarily against western populations) have worn thin and more people are becoming aware of the propaganda and manipulation to which they have been subjected. People living on stagnated wages are annoyed that they are struggling to feed their families, as prices continue to rise around them and as billions of their tax euros are being spent on weapons for Ukraine that are predominantly made by the US and British arms manufacturers. It infuriates them the more to discover that less than 30 percent of these weapons are even making it to the frontlines and that heretofore trustworthy news sources are being bullied — by the Washington and Kiev regimes — to censor this information. Working people, acutely aware of the sacrifices they and their loved ones have had to make (and will continue to have to make), have grown tired of the lies they have been told.
Not only the European workers who have been forced to foot the bill for what evidently amounts to a US proxy war against Russia have become disillusioned, but so too have many of their parliamentarians. Clare Daly, and Irish MEP, and a number of her colleagues have been placed on Ukraine’s security services ‘list of enemies’ — not unlike the list the Russian intellectual Alexander Dugin was on before his daughter was murdered in a car bombing in Moscow — for having the audacity to call out the facts of the European Union’s support of Ukraine; that it has emboldened NATO in its eastward march, that it has fuelled the far-right in eastern Europe, that it has handed a blank cheque to the military-industrial complex and weapons makers, and that it has brought us all back under the dark cloud of a possible nuclear war. European legislators, even those most in support of Ukraine, are uncomfortable with these threats.
In military terms too, the war in Ukraine — which is neither a member of the EU nor NATO — is potentially very dangerous for Europe. Only yesterday (22 August 2022), the German Ministry of Defence said that it could no longer send Ukraine military hardware from its own stocks. Germany, like so many other states backing the Kiev regime, has been emptying out its toy chest to arm Ukraine to the teeth with the best and most sophisticated weaponry on the planet; thinking, as is always the case, the war would be over quickly. The problem now is that the war has dragged on for six long months. The not-quite-allies made a catastrophic miscalculation — Russia turned the war into a meat grinder; obliterating Ukraine’s professional army and its most experienced units at Mariupol and severed every supply line to the east and south of the country.
Ukraine has sexy weapons, for sure, but they are being used by a virgin ‘army’ of poorly trained volunteers and conscripts. Russia, on the other hand, has most of its best trained and professional servicemen in reserve and has fought an effective war of attrition; wearing down what is left of Ukraine’s fighting spirit and consigning to the scrapheap billions of euros of Europe’s best military hardware. Under different circumstances, such as during a wartime mobilisation of the state economy, the production of new weapons — especially heavy weapons — would act to stimulate the economy, but this is not a time like that. Germany is spiralling towards a deep recession and it has not mobilised its economy for war. This is a sinking peacetime European economy beset with a worsening fuel crisis and an inflation crisis. These weapons, given the rising costs of oil and production, will be significantly more expensive to replace than the weapons it gave to Ukraine.
Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan (2 August 2022) has also given EU member states pause for thought. Ukraine was meant to be a US-directed war against Russia that would be over in a matter of weeks and be of net benefit to the European Union. This, however, has not happened. Instead, European governments have become more unstable and, militarily, they have shot themselves in the foot. Now, rather than concentrating on the big plan of defeating Russia, it is beginning to look as though the US has a bigger plan — and one that does not benefit Europe. All the Biden administration has achieved, as far as Europe can see, is a closer military relationship between Russia, the PR China, and India. Potentially, in any deterioration of this situation, it would be the streets of Berlin and not Mykolaiv that would be the frontline of the US’ war with Russia (not to mention the radioactive cloud blowing west from the exploded Zaporizhia nuclear power plant).
And all of this to save Volodymyr Zelenskyy with his pre-prepared lines like needing ammo and not a ride. The Churchillian Zelenskyy myth was always going to wear thin. The lies and obvious propaganda were always going to catch up on him. What might have done for a short war, certainly does not do for a long war. Every conceivable effort went into convincing us the Nazis were not in control — he’s Jewish after all — but all we have seen are swastika tattoos and SS insignia (even in a NATO tweet). It took him a while, but he eventually switched up his wardrobe — maybe it was the Vogue photoshoot, and now he’s sporting a traditional Ukrainian embroidered Vyshyvanka; yet another clear nod to the Nazi ideology of the rustic Banderites of the 1930s and 40s. All the Nazi stuff makes Europe uncomfortable at a pretty deep level, but it is all Zelenskyy has left — and it will be the only thing of value to him when Europe makes its excuses and leaves him and Ukraine to their fate.
Jason Michael McCann, M.Phil. (TCD) Conflict Studies
The author holds a postgraduate degree in Race, Ethnicity and Conflict from the University of Dublin, Trinity College, and an academic fellowship in the study of conflict from the University of West Flanders. He has published on the history of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp and the murder of the Hungarian Jews in 1944.