The EU will never recover from its Ukraine shame

It was easy to forget Germany and France’s behaviour when Putin was losing. Now he may be winning, it is a total outrage

Camilla Tominey


President Macron and Chancellor Scholz during a press conference

Olaf Scholz was at Davos this week, insisting that Ukraine must win the war against Russia. Describing the invasion of February 24 as a “thunderbolt”, the German Chancellor told the World Economic Forum: “We cannot allow Putin to win his war, and I firmly believe that he will not win it.

“He has failed to meet any of his strategic goals. Russia capturing all of Ukraine seems less likely now than it did at the start of the war, thanks not least to the remarkable defensive actions fought by the Ukrainian army and the European population.”

Well, some Europeans more than others, Olaf. 

Only two days earlier, Poland had accused Germany of breaking its word on an agreement to supply Warsaw with new tanks as compensation for Polish deliveries of Soviet-era tanks to Ukraine. The “Ringtausch” swap scheme should have seen eastern Nato partners supply the Ukrainian army with T-72s in exchange for modern Western tanks like the Leopard from German manufacturers. 

Yet Polish President Andrzej Duda this week told German news outlet Welt that Berlin had “not fulfilled this promise,” as a German defence minister admitted: “There is still a bit of work ahead of us.” 

As ever, the German response to this crisis has proved as nimble as the filing of Boris Becker’s tax returns. So much for being the most efficient nation on earth. 

More than three months on from the invasion, and despite leading Europe’s largest economy, Scholz still has not travelled to Kyiv, arguing that he had already gone in early February and would not go again “for a quick in and out with a photoshoot”.

Yet the truth of the matter seems to be that the former young socialist is still rather childishly smarting from Ukraine’s decision not to welcome German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier because of his previously soft stance on Russia.

When Steinmeier was Russophile Gerhard Schröder’s chief of staff, and later foreign minister under Angela Merkel, he was one of the key figures pursuing close energy ties with Vladimir Putin. Photographs of him warmly greeting Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov now haunt him almost as much as his deluded attempts to discuss democracy and human rights with Lavrov’s despotic boss.

Despite all this, Scholz still tried to argue it was not an acceptable way to treat the president of “a country that provides so much military assistance, so much financial assistance, that is needed when it comes to the security guarantees that are important for Ukraine in the future.”

Ukraine’s outspoken ambassador in Berlin, Andrij Melnyk, responded by calling Scholz’s snub not very statesmanlike, adding that he had acted like a “sulky liver sausage”.

“This is about the most brutal war of extermination since the Nazi invasion of Ukraine, it’s not kindergarten,” he said. Quite.

As Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki pointed out this week: “There is nothing better than visiting the capital of the fighting nation to realise the seriousness of the situation, to get a sense of the importance of all that is happening there.”

While Germany should be congratulated for finally pledging to spend more than 2 per cent of GDP on defence, let us not forget the shame of the EU’s woeful response to this crisis.

Despite spending decades freebasing Russian oil and gas, the bloc is still dragging its feet on a gas embargo while some leaders have been Kissinger-esque in their evident desire for a deal with Putin – even one that could involve Ukraine giving up territory.

That’s not leadership, it is appeasement, which President Zelensky rightly said on Thursday had the whiff of 1938 and Munich.

Yet still we have to endure the “follow back, pro-European” brigade having a go at Britain, bleating on about our reputation having been irreversibly damaged by Brexit, seemingly oblivious to the fact that their beloved Brussels is still struggling to find its way out of Putin’s top pocket.

It was not long ago that Germany was blocking arms exports to Ukraine while EU leaders were pushing for ceasefires based on concessions of vast swathes of the so-called “breadbasket” of Europe.

We had Brussels allowing companies to pay Russia for gas in rubles despite alleged sanctions while failing to agree on confiscating Russian assets. It took far too long for the Germans to ditch Nord Stream 2.

We also now know that EU states were still exporting arms to Russia until at least 2020 despite an embargo being put in place after the 2014 annexation of Crimea – so let’s not rewrite history, here.

When Ukraine was clearly winning, it was easier to forget the disgraceful behaviour of the likes of Germany and France.

In his assault on Donbas, however, Putin does now unfortunately appear to have the upper hand.

Having abandoned the campaign to capture the capital, Russia has intensified its attacks on Donetsk and Luhansk with the aim of “liberating” the old industrial heartland in the largely Russian-speaking east. Ukraine says the battle for Donbas is the biggest on European soil since the Second World War, with President Zelensky vowing that the military “will fight for every centimetre of our land”.

But the truth of the matter is that Ukraine still does not have all the weaponry it needs. As Oleksii Goncharenko, the MP for Podilsk in the outskirts of Odesa, told me last week: “We still need more weapons, especially in terms of our air defences. The skies are the last place where the Russians have the advantage.”

The support from Britain, America, Poland et al has so far been sufficient to keep Putin at bay but now, sadly, that may no longer be true.

Of course, we remain hopeful for what happens next, but plucky Ukraine’s heroism may not be enough to withstand the massive firepower of the Kremlin’s forces.

And still, Germany and France continue to dither and delay in the vein of Jean Claude-Juncker enjoying a liquid lunch on the Grand Place.

President Emmanuel Macron of France has not yet visited Kyiv either, despite an invitation from President Zelensky, arguing that he will only travel there when it would be “useful” to do so.

Useful to whom, exactly? Having apparently been incandescent that our own Prime Minister beat him to it in April, Macron reportedly ranted to his advisers: “It’s so annoying to see Johnson still has this capacity to put himself front and centre when he hasn’t actually done very much since the start of this.

“Johnson just ‘does Johnson’ – it’s populism. He keeps repeating ‘Putin must fail’ but there’s nothing behind the words.”

Well, nothing except the more than 5,000 Nlaws and other anti-tank missiles that Britain has sent to Ukraine, along with 1,360 anti-structure munitions, five air-defence systems with more than 100 missiles, and 4.5 tonnes of plastic explosives.

Nothing except the Starstreak surface-to-air missiles supplied by the Ministry of Defence to help Ukraine defend themselves against aerial assaults.

While the UK was training 22,000 Ukrainian troops and ordering warships to the Black Sea, Macron was returning empty-handed from Moscow while the Germans were prevaricating over whether to send President Zelensky a measly 5,000 helmets.

When it comes to international standing on this issue, it’s not Britain that has the image problem. It’s the EU – particularly its two leading states.


  1. “So much for being the most efficient nation on earth.”

    Really? Whoever really knows Germanystan knows that this is not true. I doubt if it ever was true. These morons know how to make simple things complex. That’s about all. Efficiency is not a part of their repertoire.
    At any rate, Germanystan, together with frog land and the shithole Hungary have already put a wedge between themselves and the Eastern European countries and the UK. They are nothing near in a leadership position anymore. They are anchors on the ship of progress. They are no friends of true democracy, freedom and human rights. They are greedy cowards, unreliable, backstabbing, and filthy Russia ass-givers.

    • It is high time to split the EU because there is a clear cultural divide. There should be a WEU and an EEU. Eastern could be the Baltics, Poland,, Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary (just for geographical reasons), Romania, Czechia, Georgia, Bulgaria and debatably Greece and Turkey. With NO unanimous consent for God’s sake.

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