The much-heralded Ukrainian counter-offensive has turned out to be a military and political catastrophe, with even the mainstream BBC asking through gritted teeth whether it can succeed. Thousands of Ukrainian soldiers have been killed or maimed, and a mass of Ukrainian and NATO hardware destroyed, while Russia is constantly improving its defences, and taking over strategic strongpoints. All this, despite the billions in arms and money (much of the latter to prop up a corrupt and failed state) spent by taxpayers in the West, without their permission, and despite Mr. Zelensky’s vain promises.
Russian military efficiency and tactics apart, one of the reasons for the failed offensive is corruption. Since the end of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has been one of the world’s most corrupt countries. Corruption is indeed endemic, at both a personal and institutional level, and since the Maidan coup against the elected president Yanukovich, it has become worse, a result of ever larger sums of western taxpayers’ money being given to Kiev. Following on reports of Western weapons being re-sold on the black market, the most recent scandal involves conscription officials taking bribes and smuggling draft-dodgers out of the country.1
The fact that Mr. Zelensky has taken public action against various officials should be taken with a large sack of salt, as it is part of a mainstream media-supported PR operation to convince naïve and gullible Western audiences that corruption is under control.
But leopards do not change their spots, especially overnight. For example, the family of the head of the Odesa Military Commissariat, Yevhen Borisov, has bought real estate and cars worth millions of dollars on the coast of Spain. Borisov himself registered real estate in Marbella in the name of his retired mother. He had, of course, to be publicly removed from his position.2 This all comes across as the tip of a dirty iceberg.
As the financial vultures circle in the skies of Ukraine to rebuild the country (or what remains of it) after the fighting, Transparency International reports that ordinary Ukrainians are worried about corruption as their main fear: a survey found that 73% of the population and 80% of businesses listed the ‘restoration of corruption schemes’ as the main fear, followed by the ‘lack of control and embezzlement of public funds’, at 68% and 73% respectively.
Economic support for Ukraine is a waste of money that leads to increasing impoverishment of the people of the EU, whereas the shareholders of the US military-industrial-congressional complex are further enriching themselves. In Greece, for example, instead of funding schools and health, the Greek government continues the charade of paying its taxpayers’ money to fund a failed state’s war. There has been a spate of doctors’ resignations, and many people have been waiting years for their pensions.
How much longer can this charade continue? Mr. Zelensky does not even thank us for it, even indulging in theatrical insults. The leadership of Ukraine is already accustomed to living at our expense, where some officials and politicians get rich while we finance them. Bearing in mind the adage ‘give an inch, take a mile’, Mr. Zelensky and his team come across as parasites.
Behind the scenes, and following NATO’s refusal to give a date for Ukraine’s entry, some EU leaders and their advisers are even questioning Ukraine’s putative EU membership. The mainstream pro-NATO Financial Times writes, for example about ‘the ‘monumental consequences’ of Ukraine joining the EU, saying that Kiev’s desire for membership has raised profound questions about the union’s capacity to accept new members — and the future of the European project.’4
The backpeddling and face-saving operation has begun, as it becomes increasingly obvious that Ukraine must be forced to sit down at the negotiating table and look for a territorial and political compromise to end the conflict. It is obvious to sane observers and military experts that Ukraine cannot defeat Russia in a war. Every day that the fighting continues means new spending on the part of our citizens in a conflict that has nothing to do with us. The only stability that the Ukraine ever had was with the Soviet Union, when all the social, cultural and ethnic cracks and historical inconsistencies were held together.
Since 1991, Ukraine has increasingly become an American NATO anti-Russian outpost, and cannot be described as independent. In fact, Ukraine is led by the United States. The large and once wealthy countries of Europe have become hostages of a US policy aimed at global leadership. It is bizarre that European taxpayers are paying for their own subjugation to the shareholders of the American military-industrial-congressional complex and its fanatical neo-con and neo-liberal supporters. The struggle for the mastery of Europe continues, with the Ukraine as the killing fields.
In past generations, there have been so many border changes in and around Ukraine, that it is still not a viable state. It is time to end this imbroglio, bearing in mind the American president’s Woodrow Wilson’s dicta about self-determination, with borders that reflect social, ethnic, linguistic and cultural reality. Good fences make good neighbours. As for those who proclaim the propaganda of hatred, remember that it was not so long ago that France and Germany hated each other, until common sense and co-operation won the day over the fanatics.