Saturday, June 25, 2022

France and Germany risk becoming Putin’s “useful idiots” if they hesitate to tackle the Ukraine war

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The countries, along with Italy, will once again be the weakest link in the fight against the Russian president’s megalomania

A belated visit to Ukraine this week by the EU’s three major leaders, French President Emmanuel macronChancellor Olaf Scholz and the Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi produced an image of all three ashen-faced in the face of Russian war crimes at Irpin. The visit was intended to signal solidarity.

But actions speak louder than words — or tortured photos. Everything indicates that France, Germany and Italy will once again be the weakest links in the fight against Putin’s megalomania.

After watching – and bowing before – Russian aggression for almost a decade and a half, major European countries seem to have learned nothing about Vladimir Putin’s ambitions and the unbridled brutality he will use to achieve them.

Fourteen years ago, Putin invaded Georgia – and seized 20 percent of its territory, which it still holds today. French and German interventions are partly to blame for the botched “peace accords” forced upon the occupied country.

When Putin sent tanks to Crimea and troops to the Donbas in 2014, France and Germany again thought they knew best and helped impose a flawed peace deal on Ukraine that Russia never abided by.

Meanwhile, Angela Merkel (who declared earlier this month, “je ne sorryte rien” about her disastrous miscalculations in dealing with Putin) continued to increase her country’s reliance on Russian energy — even as Putin assassinated opponents with nerve gas on European soil, and interfered in western elections.

Even now, after Russia’s full-blown attack on Ukraine and evidence of the war crimes it committed there, the EU’s largest states cannot overcome their inclination to acquiesce in the face of Putin’s aggression.

Prior to the February 24 invasion, Putin toyed with French President Emmanuel in a series of pointless discussions designed only to stroke the tyrant’s ego and encourage the belief that his Western opponents will give up before him. We now know that Putin intends to blast his way into possession of as much Ukraine as possible until enough force stops him.

Macron insisted on Friday that he would continue to speak to the Russian dictator “every time it is useful”. The French President has already called for an end to the war on terms so favorable to Russia as to spare Putin “humiliation”.

Draghi also alternates almost daily between demanding compromises and fulfilling the wishes of beleaguered Ukrainians.

With the vacillating chancellor, the Kremlin hopes to recruit another useful idiot.

In the immediate aftermath of the Russian invasion, Scholz stunned Germany – and the world – by announcing that he would build up the army, abandon the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and send weapons to Ukraine. But the old hesitation has returned.

Scholz also likes to chat with Putin, most recently in a joint phone call with Macron that lasted 80 minutes and discussed the need for one armistice.

He is reportedly backing down on promises to send additional troops to Lithuania to increase NATO’s deterrence against Russian attacks on the Baltic states – although Putin’s tsarist fantasies have him hinting at plans for the Russian-speaking border town of Narva in Lithuania’s neighboring country and EU Member Estonia.

Despite promises of weapons, German supplies to Ukraine are limited. Berlin has not delivered a single heavy weapon since the beginning of the war. The website foreign policy reports that the advanced German anti-aircraft defense system will not arrive until the fall, by which time German intelligence believes that Russia may have already completed its conquest of the Donbass.

Following Macron-Scholz-Drahi’s visit to Irpin, the European Union on Friday approved Ukraine’s candidacy to join the bloc along with its neighbor Moldova.

“Ukraine is part of the European family,” said Scholz after a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

But any prospect of EU membership is years or decades away. Faced with mere words rather than heavy ammunition, Putin hopes to have Ukraine to himself long before that.

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