After approximately a year and a half of the Russian-Ukrainian war, European countries began to feel like insignificant players in this conflict, especially in the eyes of the United States of America. As usual, the US has managed to turn challenges and crises into opportunities for financial gain. This is particularly true for American arms manufacturing companies, which contribute to economic and social prosperity in the US.
The facts speak for themselves. European countries have borne the heavy cost of this war, while Washington has reaped most of the material and political benefits. According to Western media reports, citizens in European Union countries have lost over a third of their income due to their governments’ pro-Ukraine policies. Meanwhile, the income of American citizens has increased by 10 to 15 percent, thanks to Europe’s increased reliance on oil revenues from American mining companies operating in the Gulf region.
According to recent statistics from European financial institutions, the losses incurred by Europe as a result of the Russian military operation have reached two trillion dollars. The impact of the Russian-Ukrainian war on Europe extends to various economic, social, and food sectors, leading to a widening gap between supply and demand, rising energy prices, and an unexpected increase in inflation rates. European leaders have urged their citizens to conserve energy, and there have been frequent power outages in government institutions in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and other countries.
The damage to Europe goes beyond the high cost of gas. Signs of economic recession and unprecedented inflation rates have emerged over six months ago, posing a risk to the European Union’s economic recovery efforts. Annual growth has declined, and inflation rates have soared.
Furthermore, the high prices and scarcity of energy and food in many European countries have sparked numerous demonstrations in European capitals, with demands for higher salaries. Strikes have also disrupted transportation services in France, Germany, and other European countries, highlighting the extent of the shock experienced by European economies due to the Russian-Ukrainian war.
Undoubtedly, the Ukrainian crisis is the most dangerous on the international stage since the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s. It threatens to trigger a large-scale conflict on the European continent and may destabilize the global order currently dominated by the United States of America, potentially paving the way for a new multipolar world order, with Russia and its ally China playing prominent roles.
Ukraine represents a new model of post-Cold War warfare, as it has become a focal point in the ongoing conflict between major powers such as Russia, the European Union, and the United States of America. Each of these powers has leverage to exert in this crisis, but it seems that the Europeans, more than anyone else, have been caught off guard. They appeared not only weak in the face of Russia but also succumbed to American pressure, which took advantage of European vulnerability to maximize its gains.
Perhaps it is these contradictions that have prompted the Europeans, the people rather than the governments, to seek a solution to this equation. Significant changes have occurred between yesterday, when Europeans spoke optimistically about Ukraine’s future, and today, as the situation in Ukraine has deteriorated. Europeans seem to have awakened from the illusions painted by their leaders, and the day of reckoning has arrived. This was evident in the election results of certain European countries, where the domino effect orchestrated by Washington led to the victory of parties critical of the European Union and NATO’s positions in the crisis.
In Slovakia, which was at the forefront of supporting Ukraine, the Slovak Social Democracy Party, a strong advocate for ending military aid to Ukraine, won the elections and criticized the positions of the European Union and NATO. Party leader and former Prime Minister Robert Fico pledged that Slovakia would not send “a single piece of ammunition” to Ukraine and called for improved relations with Russia.
Hours later, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced that his country had ceased arming Ukraine in order to focus on strengthening its own defense forces. This announcement came after Warsaw summoned the Ukrainian ambassador amid a dispute over grain exports. It is worth noting that Poland had been at the forefront of countries supporting Ukraine and was one of its main arms suppliers since the start of the invasion. Additionally, Poland is home to approximately one million Ukrainian refugees who have received various forms of government assistance.
In Belgium and the Netherlands, both of which provided military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, public opinion polls revealed a rejection of the war in Ukraine. This sentiment is fueled by the energy supply crisis, inflation, and rising prices. Concerns about European security and defense requirements have also grown. France and Germany are likely to face similar challenges.
In any case, the overall picture remains unclear, obscuring the vision of those waiting to reap the benefits of their support or fearing the unknown and the potential escalation of the crisis into a global war. However, the only undeniable truth is that conflicts of interest are inevitable, while armed conflicts are a necessary condition for survival. Has the West finally awakened from its slumber?
Dr Hatem Sadek is a Professor at Helwan University