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French President Emmanuel Macron shakes hands with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz next to Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi as they travel on board a train bound to Kyiv after departing from Poland, June 16 2022. Picture: REUTERS/LUDOVIC MARIN
French President Emmanuel Macron shakes hands with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz next to Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi as they travel on board a train bound to Kyiv after departing from Poland, June 16 2022. Picture: REUTERS/LUDOVIC MARIN

So what exactly happened in Kyiv last week? On Thursday the triumvirate of presidents Mario Draghi, Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz arrived by train and were joined later by Klaus Iohannis of Romania, whose Constanta port has exported over 1-million tonnes of Ukrainian grain.

After a battlefield tour of Irpin and carefully staged gestures of support, they recommended Ukraine as a candidate for membership in the European family of nations, jubilantly confirmed by European Commission president Ursula Von der Leyen in Brussels. The same day the UK’s Boris Johnson stood up “red wall” constituency public engagements and a visit to Wakefield, site of next week’s critical by election, to visit Volodymyr Zelensky, where he offered training to Ukraine’s depleted military.  

Both Macron and Scholz are ridiculed in Ukraine for continuing to negotiate with Putin while failing to deliver promised weapons. Their visit coincided with a significant drop in Russian gas exports to both Italy and Germany. The second round of voting for the French National Assembly on Sunday is unlikely to favour Macron, while both French and Italian debt levels are fast becoming unsustainable. The triumvirate needs this war to end now.

Zelensky’s desperation for Ukraine to join the EU has been used  by the triumvirate in an attempt force a peace with Moscow. Johnson’s mission was more a Nato one, in conjunction with Poland, the Baltic states and the US, confirming that they stand by Ukraine for the long haul and want a Russian defeat.

These two “Western” camps will in time threaten the existence of the EU itself. Unless Zelensky capitulates, Russia will continue to destroy Eastern Ukraine while making friends using supplies of grain and cheap oil. Meanwhile, Russia’s closest allies, Belarus and China, are readying themselves to exploit any obvious weaknesses.

James Cunningham, Camps Bay

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