Western Europe's East fatigue might soon set in.
If Putin offers a peace that's good enough for the EU but bad for Kiev, it could be a possible breaking point.
Predictions. Haven’t most of us got tired of them since the first news reached us from Wuhan circa January 2020?
In the online dumpster fire of predictions, armchair generals and geopolitical experts replaced the virologists after COVID ended this February with a bang. I will spare you that ride in this post and strictly focus on what I know, to make a prediction, based on what I definitely know, which is the general disdain Westerners normally feel towards our backwards region.
I’ll start with
Action Slavs high on entitlement
Today Zelenskiy asked the Davos crowd to give Ukraine 5 billion dollars per month. Meanwhile the Polish prime minister suggested that Norway should sell them natural gas at the old price, otherwise they’re dirty, Putinist war profiteers. This sudden influx of sympathy towards Eastern Europe is being milked shamelessly to the detriment of the rich West. Today might be the Peak Big Dick day for East Europe, and any day now this might start to go downhill. The West is getting tired. The West is looking for a way out. I know I would be.
So, for a way out of this mess, first
Putin must “win”
The war’s not going well for Moscow, but it has reserves to go on, so they can last if need be. What we - in the online intelligence/virologist community - do know is that for Putin to quit, he has to have some victory to show for.
The breakaway regions were de facto war zones since 2014: they might take them and be done with it. Russia has the strongest claims on those. It’s as likely as an early exit offer as it gets.
The breakaway regions are - you all know these by now like 90s kids knew “Kosovo” or “Hebron” - Luhansk and Donetsk. Or Donbas. Donbas might be both together? Well, this is the key to the problem, I was born next door, live next door in Hungary and I don’t fucking know. They might as well be districts of Beirut that the news recently started to talk about.
So I decided to test on myself
The relevance of the breakaway regions
by fetching an outline map and see if I can correctly draw these territories on it.
The result is in the footnotesso I don’t spoil anything. I came kind of close, but I’ve looked at a few tacticool maps when this war was fresh news, so I had vague memories of frozen front lines, and I’m generally good with maps.
Is your average Western voter this good? Your average Yellow Vest? Do they care enough to pay the price for these faraway swamps they can’t even show on a map every day, at the gas station, at the grocery store, when the bills come? For how long?
These regions, these people, their minute differences might mean a lot to the locals to a point of genocidal war (just like in former Yugoslavia), but to us, even in Hungary, are meaningless. We can’t even differentiate between Ukrainians and Russians, not by their looks, not by their spoken or written word. Can you?
How much further sacrifice would West Europeans, let them be politicians, businessmen or voters endure to prolong the unlikely possibility of Kiev’s total victory?
Would they be open to settle for a quicker end, and if so, do they get to have a say on the matter, or they just have to pay the price, shut up and smile, because of a bunch of pissed of East Europeans demand so? Will Scholz just smile like an idiot the next time he’s insulted? Macron?
Let’s assume that
Putin offers a peace deal tomorrow
In broad strokes taking these breakaway regions, retreating from the rest and that’s it. We can call it a day, as far as Moscow is concerned.
A deal that Ukraine (and Poland and etc.) would not accept, not now, when they’re riding the peak of their global sympathy, which is measured by social media approval, a very ephemeral, but intoxicating asset.
In the eyes of the world (and predominantly the EU) the rejection of this peace over two disputed regions that were wonky to begin with will not be met by cheers. The continuation of this conflict is way too expensive for Western Europe to justify prolonging the war indefinitely for these two shitholes they never even heard about before this news cycle.
The rejection of a peace offer by the Action Slavs is a possible souring point in the relations from the EU’s side.
To make the dissatisfaction bidirectional, Putin can go above the head of Kiev and Warsaw (and thus Washington) and present this to the leading EU states, offering them a key mediator role. It’s hard to reject that offer if one truly wants peace, and there are other benefits, Russia could make some concessions that would allow the EU to offer lifting certain embargoes. Certainly not going back to normal any time soon, but cutting back on the abnormal that is way too expensive for the continent.
This would further piss Kiev (and Warsaw and etc.) off, and should they still be high on the perceived support from other places - predominantly the US -, given the diplomatic finesse Ukraine already displayed calling the German chancellor a liver sausage over something trivial, the outlash by the Action Slavs caught in the middle can easily end the 3 month run of unchecked and unprecedented Eastward sympathy from the EU in an instant.
A possible breaking point, and it’s Putin’s card to play.
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I might be a cynic, but I have a heart
The first signs of the end of this honeymoon period are the rumbles around Ukraine’s possible EU membership. Apparently, at the time of this post, the higher ups admitted that it would take a few decades, so promising a quick way in was just a sympathy stunt, a zero calory carrot thrown in the whirlwind of likes in early spring.
Ukraine is and was a corrupt, poor shithole. It’s not a Hungarian opinion, that one has way more empathy for a former Eastern Block nation. It’s how the West views them, views us. It has always been like that. We also had a lot of promises, big promises, even got high on them. We’ve already been there, minus banging our shoe on the table, demanding free shit, we never got that audacious.
I - and any self-respecting Hungarian - don’t even object to that; when the Poles have the balls to tell the Norwegians to sell their gas cheaper, I have to side with my East European brethren. What do those uppity northerners need the extra blood money for, to buy another Tesla? Fuck em, pay up!
When this break between the EU and the Action Slavs eventually happens, and Poland wakes up with a hangover, I will side with them, no matter how much they taunt us right now. They’re drunk. It’s fine. We’re still in the same boat, we’re still East Europeans, we’re still V4, Brussels still won’t let us live until both of our governments are color revolutioned away. In the eyes of the West, we’re still the same shit.
I mixed up the two and was a bit more gratuitous to the Glorious Republic of Luhansk. Oh well. It’s not like people are dying for every square meter of that disputed soil right now.