“Can Western leaders rally their people to endure economic sacrifice for the sake of Ukraine — or is that a contest only Putin can win?” Writes Drago Bosnic
On February 24, the political West sounded decidedly self-confident as it expected Russia was heading back to the disastrous 1990s, with the country’s social and economic prospects seemingly in tatters. Russian forex reserves were stolen, banks cut off from SWIFT, Western airspace banned, while anything remotely connected to Russia and its magnificent civilizational contributions was effectively “canceled“. According to Western media, it seemed Russia was done. After all, wasn’t the “whole world” now unequivocally against it? Well, maybe in the minds of Western leadership, as they have a very specific idea of what “the world” is. The actual world doesn’t have “the privilege” of being a member of this “elite club”.
In time, however, the political West started losing its misplaced self-confidence. As the Kiev regime kept suffering defeats, and despite a massive media campaign to portray it as winning, people became less enthusiastic. This worsened after sanctions started affecting the West more than Russia itself. Western leadership tried spinning the narrative, claiming sanctions supposedly had no boomerang effect, but that “Russia’s unprovoked, brutal invasion” was the reason behind everyone’s troubles. In a recent LA Times column, Doyle McManus described his experience after visiting Europe. The columnist was in Italy to see how sanctions affected life in Europe:
“It wasn’t hard to find the effects. You’re unhappy about $5 a gallon for gas? Try $8. ‘It’s painful filling the tank,’ my friend Roberto Pesciani, a retired teacher, moaned. Utility bills? The cost of natural gas is four times higher in Italy than in the US. ‘Heating prices are up. Grocery prices are up. Everything’s going up,’ Pesciani said.
The worries go beyond inflation. Italy’s foreign minister, Luigi Di Maio, warned recently that Russia’s blockade on Ukraine’s grain exports could spark a global bread war, producing famine in Africa and a new wave of migrants heading for Europe. ‘The problem with sanctions on Russia is that they will only work if they hurt us too,’ Pesciani observed.”
Naturally, the false narrative of Russia blocking Ukrainian ports needs to be kept alive at all costs. There’s just one “tiny” problem – it doesn’t exist. Usually, Western leadership takes an issue and intentionally blows it out of proportion to keep “useful” political narratives alive. However, this is an outright, unadulterated lie. Just one of many coming from the political West. What is definitely true is the coming food crisis and the resulting chaos, but Europeans have only themselves to blame. They’ve effectively cut themselves off from Russian commodities by imposing embargoes, even sanctioning third parties, but at the same time, complaining about shortages and trying to shift the blame on Russia. Naturally, it’s failing. But the political West keeps pushing, even blaming the world just for trying to acquire food and other essentials from Russia.
McManus then continues explaining the problems EU faces:
“The economic pain is creating political problems for European governments – Ukraine fatigue. ‘It’s here already,’ Nathalie Tocci, director of Italy’s Institute of International Affairs, told me. ‘The pain is far higher in Russia, of course, but our pain tolerance is lower. So the question is which curve is steeper — Russia’s ability to wage war or our ability to endure economic pain.’ Russian President Vladimir Putin is betting he’ll win that contest. The West’s economic sanctions ‘had no chance of success from the very beginning,’ he said. ‘We are a strong people and can cope with any challenge.'”
Although the notion of “pain being far higher in Russia” is questionable at best, Russia can indeed endure far more. McManus also mentioned the recent 10-country ECFR (European Council on Foreign Relations) poll, showing Europeans were quite pessimistic about Ukraine and added:
“…Macron, Scholz and Draghi took an overnight train to Kyiv last week to show their support for Zelensky. Only a few weeks ago, all three sounded wobbly on the war. Macron made a very public effort to entice Putin into talks and said the West should avoid trying to ‘humiliate’ Russia. Scholz and Draghi made more discreet attempts to see if the Russian leader might consider negotiations. Putin rebuffed all three. At one point he even refused to take a telephone call from Macron.
‘Ukraine must be able to win,’ Macron declared. ‘Ukraine is part of the European family,’ Scholz said. ‘The Ukrainian people are defending the values of democracy,’ Draghi said.
The three didn’t deliver what Zelensky wanted most: quick delivery of new weapons. But they did endorse Ukraine’s application for membership in the EU — a welcome statement in Kyiv even if it was almost entirely symbolic. The Russian president responded by immediately cutting the flow of natural gas to the West, a reminder that he can inflict economic pain on his neighbors whenever he likes.”
The last sentence is quite indicative of the way Western mass media (ab)use facts. Canada is currently withholding turbines necessary for the “Nord Stream” to operate. And yet, this is somehow “Putin’s fault”. McManus then focuses on the US, asking the final and key question:
Even in the US inflation has eroded public support for the war. In April, an Associated Press poll found that a majority of American voters thought the US should impose tough sanctions against Russia, even if it means U.S. economic pain. By May, the majority had shifted; 51% said the top priority should be limiting damage to the U.S. economy. As Gideon Rachman of Financial Times noted last month, the war in Ukraine is being fought on three fronts — and the West is involved in all three. ‘The first front is the battlefield itself,’ he wrote. ‘The second front is economic. The third front is the battle of wills.’ The greatest challenge on that third front may come this fall — when the demand for heating fuel increases. The stakes will be high. Can Western leaders rally their people to endure economic sacrifice for the sake of Ukraine — or is that a contest only Putin can win?”
Drago Bosnic, independent geopolitical and military analyst.
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