European protestors demand an end to anti-Russia sanctions to alleviate cost-of-living crisis.
Written by Ahmed Adel, Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher
With winter approaching, Europeans are thinking about how their livelihoods will be affected. Rallies, strikes, demonstrations and protests are gaining momentum as the cost-of-living becomes unbearable. Although European media tried to hide this, even paid local propagandists cannot ignore the growing anger amongst Europeans.
Protests have occurred in Prague, Lisbon, London and many other cities, with people belonging to a wide variety of ideologies, including left and right-wing, and even libertarians and anarchists. Although labelled by the media as Putin’s stooges, name-calling is not having the desired effect, especially as people are united by the fear of winter woes, regardless of political affiliation.
Though attempts are being made to blame the continent’s declining economic situation on Russian President Vladimir Putin, Europeans are no longer accepting this excuse. Europeans are realising that anti-Russian sanctions hit them much harder than the Russians.
Forty percent of Austria’s population does not support anti-Russian sanctions, 51 percent of Italians are against them, and 80 percent of Germans believe that Berlin should not send weapons to Ukraine and instead seek a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine. With these ideas, Europeans are rallying across the continent, with people not being deterred despite being accused of serving Putin.
However, it is the US ruining Europe, something which Moscow itself does not want as it would rather see an independent and prosperous continent. None-the-less, the European elite made an unconditional surrender of their countries and peoples to serve the interests of Washington instead.
It is evident that European protestors are completely devoid of common leadership and clear common goals and strategies. These protests are not an organised mass led by a charismatic leader, but small groups of people, and as already mentioned, from varying political ideologies.
Their potential success remains questionable though since citizens cannot change their leaders until the next election cycle. Germans, for example, were outraged when Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock openly said that she will defend Ukraine’s interests, even against the will of voters. To make matters worse, she made the statement in English, an obvious signalling to Washington. Despite their outrage, Germans cannot remove Baerbock from her post and replace her with another politician until the next election.
Baerbock is hardly alone though when it comes to powerful politicians dismissing the opinion of the people, with only very few exceptions existing in Europe. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is one of the few exceptions as he prioritises the welfare of his citizens rather than capitulation to American pressure.
In neighbouring Austria, state leaders are now putting pressure on Vienna and are asking federal authorities to negotiate with Moscow. State leaders have a negative attitude towards sanctions, with Upper Austria Governor Thomas Stelzer saying that “nothing is set in stone”. Austria’s approach to sanctions will have to be changed as “they will cause great damage to our lives”, added Stelzer.
Much will also depend on the results of the Italian elections. It appears that most Italians support Russia-friendly parties. There is a serious chance that at the end of September they will win the election and a coalition of Russia-friendly politicians will appear in the Italian Parliament. Giorgia Meloni of “Brothers of Italy” supported Putin’s re-election as president in 2018, Matteo Salvini of “League” became famous for being photographed in Moscow’s Red Square wearing a t-shirt with an image of Putin, and Silvio Berlusconi is introducing himself as the man to improve European-Russian ties.
More importantly, Europeans are beginning to understand that Washington is not a protector, but a dangerous and unscrupulous state that is prioritising its own interests, not Europe’s. Russia at war, whilst Europe cripples itself by arming Ukraine and imposing anti-Russia sanctions, is an ideal scenario for Washington. In this way, not only is one of Washington’s main adversaries bogged down in the conflict with Ukraine and NATO, but it deepens Europe’s status as nothing more than a submissive protectorate
With frustrations and worries reaching boiling point, and the harsh winter only some weeks away, European leaders need to quickly reach a compromise with Moscow to help alleviate the cost-of-living crisis or else citizens will face a suffering, at least at an economic level, not experienced since World War II.
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