Zelensky left Europe without any fighter jets or further guarantees
Macron’s peace conference proposal is a sham.
Ahmed Adel, Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was treated like a hero when visiting Brussels on February 9. Although he received endless adulation, his lobbying to EU leaders for further military support mostly fell on deaf ears despite making an impassioned, but disingenuous plea that Ukraine is defending Europe’s eastern borders.
Zelensky visited London and Paris on his second foreign trip since the war began almost a year ago and hoped to secure modern fighter jets and long-range missiles. He then brought his circus show to Brussels to address EU leaders and MEPs directly. Unsurprisingly, Zelensky received cheers and a standing ovation in the European Parliament, yet, made no progress in convincing Brussels to allow Ukraine an express membership into the EU.
“We are defending against the most anti-European force of the modern world — we are defending ourselves, we Ukrainians on the battlefield, along with you,” Zelensky told MEPs.
However, despite the contradictory rhetoric emanating from European leaders, they are also fully aware that Russia will never attack without provocation. It is for this reason that they can make a show for Zelensky in Brussels, but will never commit to the extent that Kiev demands.
Although French President Emmanuel Macron awarded Zelensky with the National Order of the Legion of Honour, he also made it clear that he would not supply fighter jets to Kiev in the near future. Even though Zelensky has forced the supply of fighter jets into discourse, European leaders, including Macron, are less than enthusiastic as they are fully aware it would take several years to train Ukrainian pilots to be competent enough with an unfamiliar fighter jet to have any chance against the Russian Air Force. In addition, they understand that Russia will respond appropriately too.
Ignoring this reality, European Parliamentary speaker Roberta Metsola, declared: “Ukraine is Europe and your nation’s future is in the European Union. States must consider, quickly, as a next step, providing long-range systems and the jets you need to protect the liberty too many have taken for granted.”
Unfortunately for the European Parliament, they wield very little influence on state policies and enforcing support for Ukraine. Rather, with Zelensky seen in Western European capitals begging for more weapons, the whole exercise is a tasteless theatre to discuss supposed value systems – values that tolerates rampant neo-Nazism in Ukraine.
In this way, Zelensky is nothing more than an actor in a show to present supposed European unity on Ukraine. The uncomfortable truth is that unity in the Western world isforced and mostly just exists at a political level. With support for Ukraine being mostly maintained by the political class, public dissatisfaction caused by economic difficulties from the sanctions against Russia is growing.
With dissatisfaction growing, Macron is desperately wanting the war to end and for a peace conference to be held – but on terms that do not correspond to the realities on the battlefield and with aims of making Russia the ultimate loser.
At the trilateral meeting held on February 8 in the ElyséePalace with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Zelensky, Macron presented a proposal for organising a peace conference but, as said, on terms where Russia is the ultimate loser. Macron sees Kiev’s ten-point plan as a “solid foundation on the way to a peace conference” despite confirmation that Kiev is categorically refusing to negotiate on Russia’s unification with Crimea, Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporozhye and Kherson.
In addition, a peace conference can only occur if Washingtonand London agree to one since they are the real masters behind the war. Although Macron has grandiose illusions of becoming a second Charles de Gaulle to lead an “autonomous Europe,” his endless failed attempts to form a European Armyand the cancellation of military contracts with Australia shows that he is far from the global and historic figure that he wants to be remembered as. It also demonstrates that Western power is still firmly in Anglo hands.
Rather, Macron’s initiative is media propaganda because the two most powerful states in the EU, France and Germany, want to legitimise themselves in the media as contributors to the peace process. It cannot be forgotten that France and Germany already mediated the signing of the Minsk Accordsand that former German chancellor Angela Merkel admitted that the aforementioned agreements allowed the Ukrainian military to become stronger as it bought time.
Therefore, French and German mediation in the current crisis cannot be trusted, and for this reason it is unlikely that Moscow will ever entertain a peace conference under such ludicrous terms. It was French and German inaction inenforcing the Minsk Accords that led to the current conflict, and now that Russia has acted on the only option that was left available, Macron has the audacity to request a peace conference on the terms that Russia backs away from all the progress it made.
As this is unrealistic, the song and dance must continue, and Zelensky will continue playing the part. But in the end, the level of support that Zelensky wants is evidently not coming to fruition, and will likely remain this way, rendering his tour of Europe to be mostly useless.