All is not well on the Western Front

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By: Arindam Mukherjee
Updated: 12 December, 2022 1:44 pm IST
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with Ukrainian armed forces (Photo: flickr)

In an article  The New Indian published a few months back, I had shared updates on how the Western media had launched their offensive against President Zelensky; how they thought he was a corrupt man responsible not only for money laundering and making a fortune for himself in the process, but how he was also partially responsible for the current chaos unleashed by Russia in Ukraine. They would probably have continued – at the behest of their handlers in the West – and brought about formidable pressure on Zelensky to end the war. The war indeed was getting overtly unidirectional, the West had every reason to quickly look for a fall-guy, and Volodymyr Zelensky was the best bet by far.

The Izyum counteroffensive by Ukraine and Russian withdrawal from that theatre changed that. Smelling what they thought was an imminent victory over Russia, the Western media quickly went back to heaping platitudes; in their eyes, that one tactical win had the weight to counterbalance the pressure that the Western alliance was bringing on them. Zelensky became their redeemer. A visibly impressed Western leadership quickly changed their tone too.

Months have passed since then – and as we had predicted (again, in The New Indian) – tactical back and forth notwithstanding, Russia hasn’t quite ‘lost’; it has consolidated on the eastern side of Dnieper, and in fact it is planning a large-scale winter offensive. Leaders in the West are not very happy; and the media has once again taken to criticizing Zelensky.

But there is more. While the media is abuzz with how Joe Biden lost his cool and at one point asked Zelensky to ‘show a little more gratitude’ for the help that the US has constantly been providing to Ukraine, or about a Western diplomat in Kiev, who had said ‘This is getting ridiculous…The Ukrainians are destroying [our] confidence in them. Nobody is blaming Ukraine and they are openly lying. This is more destructive than the missile’ (this was immediately after Ukraine fired a missile on Poland and blamed Russia), there are a few indicators about cracks both within levels of Ukrainian leadership, as well as among the Western partners.

­NATO weapons are depleted. There is a critical stock that every NATO member maintains for their own security, which is non-transferable; Zelensky has begun demanding that. That aside, he has begun shadow boxing with Kiev Mayor, Vitali Klitschko accusing the latter for not doing enough to meet the energy demands of the capital city. Ukraine is being pounded by the Russian war machine. The energy infrastructure of the entire country is severely damaged. Not just Ukraine, the war has severely affected entire Europe’s energy supplies. To criticize the Mayor of a city under such condition for ‘not doing a good job’, or for demanding more weapon where there is not much to give could mean that perhaps Volodymor Zelensky has internalized the media spin of him being that ‘last hero’ who stood between the Western civilization and Russian ‘barbarians’.

But a deluded man being pushed to lead a crucial battle is not just the only issue within the West. French President Macron has made public his issues with the exorbitant price tag that the US energy supply carries. Germany’s economy minister has been requesting the US to relook into the price. There has been a visible shift in the public opinion in the EU about the USA. Europeans are quite unhappy with the way USA has taken to arm-twisting the EU in the name of alliance, especially with the December freeze setting in and energy bills running disproportionately high.

Then there is the issue of Poland that is leading a small lobby that wanted to cap Russian oil at $30 per barrel. Earlier, when Ukraine fired its missile to Poland, Germany wanted to help Poland to set up a defence shield with Eurofighters and Patriot Air Defense. Poland had insisted that the same defence be set up in Ukraine (which would have meant Germany – a NATO member – entering Ukraine, against a war with Russia. That was something that NATO is not looking at). Alarmed at this behaviour now, a few EU members are whispering about this Polish display of Russophobia. Across the other end, we all know about Hungary, Serbia, and their stance with respect to the ongoing conflict. Recently, France and Germany are – once again – trying to open lines of communication with Russia.

The Ukraine war has been a rude awakening for many in the European sector. The USA has been the biggest beneficiary in terms of selling or replenishing weapons, and openly profiteering from supplying energy – commodities that were irrelevant to the EU in the first place. To accomplish that, they have scammed Zelensky into a war that he cannot win, and conned the EU into a trap that would probably not only damage their economy but affect the very structure of the bloc. Showing no signs of slowing down, Biden is now pushing for green projects, which would further damage Europe.

I am fairly certain that the different leaders across the EU structure have their personal compulsions to be subservient to the US. I see no other reason why someone as intelligent as Emmanuel Macron or someone as experienced as Olaf Scholz remain committed to the US agenda of freezing Europe’s people and economy in this manner. What remains to be seen once the spring thaw sets in, is how the Europeans respond to both: a compromised incompetent leadership, and American machination.

[Arindam Mukherjee is a geopolitical analyst and the author of JourneyDog Tales, The Puppeteer, and A Matter of Greed.]

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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