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Today we observe major military conflict that is developing now between two largest countries in Europe. It happened that no one stands on the sidelines and the warfare went far beyond the battlefield long ago. We do not intend to make any moral judgements, except that every war is horrible, we just state that non-military organisations are trying to impact the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Sometimes the scale of such an impact is so substantial that these parties can be fully considered as war participants. Public relations has been always an effective tool of managing and disseminating information. What is more, PR agencies not only deliver the massage, they influence people’s perception of this message. The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) is the world’s largest professional PR body. PRCA officials were among the first who made statements about the war in Ukraine. The mood of these claims made explicit whose side they support. PRCA director-general Francis Ingham said: “I simply felt unable in good conscience to be associated with anything Russian given the war unleashed by Russia’s president” The organisation has also urged its members to consider the reputational consequences of working for companies that are not sanctioned by the UK Government but have links with Russia. In March 2022, PRCA among with another UK PR agency ICCO (International Communications Consultancy Organisation) established a new project – The Ukraine Communication Support Network (UCSN) “to coordinate volunteer communications activity in support of the people of Ukraine”. In fact, the project is designed to promote the Ukrainian narrative and damage the reputation of Russia. For instance, UCSN pushes forward newsletters about military situation in Ukraine released by the Ukrainian think-tank the Centre for Russian Studies. The letters are intended to “inform and educate” international, English-speaking media and politicians. In other words, ‘legitimate’ Ukrainian propaganda replaces ‘malicious’ Russian disinformation. Several initiatives advertised by UCSN look simply absurd. Letter ‘Z’ that is considered as symbol of Russian invasion of Ukraine was suggested to be removed from the name of popular brands. It is remarkable that such garbage ideas turn into reality. For example, in March 2022, Zurich Insurance Group retired its short logo (a white Z in a blue circle) due to the symbol becoming associated with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Next step might be total abolishment of letter Z from the English alphabet. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The largest and the most influential PR agencies play a critical part in the military conflict in Ukraine. These organisations affect people’s understanding of what is happening in the world. In fact, they decide what is right and what is wrong as well as determine and legitimate current scheme of values.
Since the first days of March EU and NATO have begun execution of their plan of global isolating Russia. Putin’s invasion to Ukraine was used as an excellent reason. This plan contained several actions which should have destroyed Russian economic and technological sectors and included strong sanctions, ban of the Russian energy import, including natural gas, oil and coal, declining Russian cooperation with the biggest world companies, cutting off their main banks form SWIFT, etc. Moreover, European countries began to intensify arms supply to Ukraine to withstand Russian aggression. At least 21 countries sent their weapon systems and supplies to the fighting zone, including tanks, helicopters, MLRS, UAVs and so on. NATO instructors were appointed to provide combat training to Ukrainian armed forces. One of the main goals of European leaders was to support Ukrainian refugees. To achieve this aim several actions were taken – simplifying border policies, creating all possible conditions for accommodation. It looked like Europe while being involved in escalating conflict would unite and follow one way together. But while European leaders are busy in dealing with foreign policy questions, Europe have begun to divide inside. Natural gas & inflation When the war began, democratic world responded with far-reaching sanctions against Moscow. In response to that Putin declared that “unfriendly” countries would pay for Russian natural gas in rubles, and if not import would be stopped for them. Of course this demand caused great indignation of European leaders, which unanimously rejected it on the G7 meeting saying that “all G-7 ministers agreed completely that this (would be) a one-sided and clear branch of the existing contracts”. That moment can be called the beginning of the European crisis. It’s important to point out that the EU depends on Russia for about 40% of its natural gas. So, if Europe admired to stop using it they should be able to find something that could be an equal alternative. As for now they could not deal with it. It’s undeniable that the gas prices had been already high before the war started. But when Europe refused to pay for natural gas in Russian national currency the “inflation bomb” finally exploded. As it’s presented in the graphics, inflation in Europe hits its celling for the first time in 40 years. Moreover, it’s not even a limit as experts make their predictions that CPI will be higher than nowadays. It’s not a secret that high inflation has an influence on a price of at least everything – from similar goods to high technologies and energy resources. It’s interesting to note that European leaders’ attempts to make an excuse for this serious fail looked very humiliating. Moreover, all their actions which were taken to stabilize the situation make the crisis in Europe more and more visible. For example, Romanian Deputy Prime Minister Hunor Kelemen said: “First of all, we, the European Union, will have to pay for the sanctions against Russia… Truth be told, we will all pay the price this winter while, unfortunately, there are no signs that the end of war is near… It well be a harsh winter, perhaps the harshest one in the last 40-50-60 years.” What’s the reason of such an aggravation of the problem? Despite the fact that G7 leaders decided not to pay for natural gas in rubles, some countries took a step back and did completely the opposite. And it was the key moment when national interests collided with alliance direction. This map shows which countries agreed (green) and refused (red) to pay for natural gas in rubles. Russia has already cut off supplies to Poland, Bulgaria and Finland. Countries which are highlighted by green are said to accept Russian demand and open ruble accounts at Gazprombank. At the beginning of July the European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said: “Energy prices are high. People – rightly so – expect us to do something about it.” So what’s the announced decision? Not so long ago EU Commission revealed their emergency plan which calls for public, commercial buildings and offices to be heated to a maximum of 19 degrees from autumn. EU does not want to pay Russia for natural gas but in fact they have got no choice. They should deal with this winter and then develop the plan what to do next. And it feels like European lives doesn’t matter because it’s clear that EU Arms supply Since the conflict broke out, European countries had begun to actively supply Ukraine with amount of weapons. But how was declared earlier, everything has got its limit and when it was clear that war would be long and slow, arms supply strongly reduced. The first country which was criticized for it became Germany for its decision not to send heavy weapons to war zone. While Ukraine strongly needs this kind of weapons not so many countries are ready to give it to them while being aware of potential escalation of conflict with Russia. Germany is not an exception. Now their government is catching critics not only from EU/NATO partners but from opposition parties inside the country. It’s truly disappointing for German chancellor Olaf Scholz, whose approval rating sinks lower and lower every month. One more European country which refused to send weapons to Ukraine was Bulgaria. Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov confirmed that his government has no plans to send heavy weapons to Ukraine, saying that Bulgaria has “done enough” to help Kyiv with humanitarian relief. “We’ve done enough and we’ll continue to support Ukraine,” he said. Moreover, Switzerland also didn’t allow the re-export of Swiss war material to Ukraine. Following their policy of military neutrality it was declared that Bern rejected Berlin’s request to send around 12400 rounds of 35-millimetre Swiss ammunition for self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, and for Piranha III wheeled APCs to Kyiv. Similarly, Switzerland denied Denmark’s request to send 22 Swiss-made Piranha III wheeled APCs to Ukraine. Switzerland also vetoed Poland’s request to send Swiss-made war material to Ukraine. Hungary Decision-making inside the coalition is not as simple as it looks. There are a lot of examples when representatives from different countries cannot deal with each other discussing various types of questions. But Hungary made a significant step aside if we consider cooperation with EU and NATO. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban during his race for election to a fourth consecutive term said that Hungary would stay out of Ukrainian war. “Russia looks at Russian interests, while Ukraine looks at Ukrainian interests. Neither the United States, nor Brussels would think with Hungarians’ mind and feel with Hungarians’ hearts. We must stand up for our own interests,” Orbans said. “We must stay out of this war… therefore we will not send any troops or weapons to the battlegrounds.” As a result, Hungary not only doesn’t support Ukraine by weapons but doesn’t allow the transit through its territory. It’s the whole opposite position in comparison with EU/NATO members. For example, nobody was surprised when Serbia declared that they would not join overall sanctions against Russia and its government while being considered one of the Russian allies; however, when EU and NATO member concludes that participation in the conflict even by supplying Ukrainian army would be harmful for the country interests, it feels at least unusual. This opinion can be a little bit controversial but at least it deserves some respect. When the interests of alliance contradict national interests and nation’s leader is brave enough not to blindly follow EU/NATO recommendations but stand on his way to improve lives of his country’s citizens – it’s kind of question for European leaders to think about. Who orders the music? It’s not a secret that armed conflict has got some visible reasons of its escalation and it serves for the people who are interested in it. On the one hand, it could be quite logical to find one to blame in conflict’s escalation but the complexity of this situation mean that it should be viewed not only from one side. If we are going to suggest that this war will end with Russia achieving all its goals – the so-called “release” of Ukraine and annexation of its territories as it was with Crimea – the last guy who laughs will be exactly Putin. But it’s not the only way possible. It’s important to find out who makes profit from the situation that armed conflict in Ukraine hasn’t any tendency to end soon. Anybody quickly can think about the United States, who has got their own interests in this war. US government is fighting for saving US dollar as a main world currency. The reason is that some countries including China and Russia are step-by-step refusing from mutual payments in dollar and beginning to make payments in national currency. This fact of weakening dollar of course is confusing US when they are fighting for its strengthening and, as a result, for stability of their economy. Moreover, Russian energy ban opens doors for the increased energy import from the US. The US will send 15 billion cubic meters of natural gas to the European countries. As a result, US economy will feel safer and Europe will depend on US stronger. In addition to that, also Russia in the last 20 years developed their economy as well as their armed forces. Putin declared that time for mono-polar world was over. It’s doubtful that US will agree with this statement so easy, and it’s indirectly confirmed by US enormous arms supply to Ukraine, including HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) which made a significant shift in this war. If we talk about arms supply - war in Ukraine is a good chance for some countries including US to send Ukrainians their old weapons and equipment. While it’s off to Ukraine, US supposedly will update their weapon systems. It will be wrong to admit that only US is making significant contribution to the Ukrainian conflict continuation. But it’s a matter of fact that US are trying to strengthen their position as a world leader by way of supporting the prolongation of this war. It’s not a secret that the large part of the above-mentioned problems – natural gas prices, inflation, pro-Russian governments – had existed long before the Ukrainian war escalated. Unfortunately, at this moment actions of the European countries’ governments and Russian counteractions have leaded only to negative consequences concerning EU citizens’ wellbeing. It’s the stalemate situation – on the one hand if EU/NATO countries follow US requests and approve economic sanctions against Russia it causes financial losses not only for Putin’s government but for themselves (for example, not so long ago dollar for the first time in 20 years exchanged for euro equally) and without any doubt makes their citizens angry. As a result British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Prime Minister of Italy Mario Draghi have decided to leave their posts because of their lack of ability to handle the situation. On the other hand if European leaders refuse to take measures against Russia which is based on their desire not to leave their citizens without cheap gas and fuel, - they are going through tough critics form their colleagues form EU and NATO. We can suppose how the situation in Europe will develop in the upcoming months. First variant – Europe follows its way of absolute support of Ukraine, refusing the cooperation with Russia, what makes a great advantage for US but not for Europeans. Second way is to stop confrontation with Russia and search for peaceful decisions of existing problems with Putin as well as between European leaders. Why is this variant look quite acceptable? Everything depends on the war ending and timing; analysts are making the different predictions, European leaders strongly hope that everything would be solved before the winter begins, but nobody truly believes it. Moreover, they don’t approach the end of the war while giving Ukraine enormous amount of weapons. What we have for now – Europe is frozen in waiting for the winter and its consequences, searching for US and Middle East natural gas and it is not clear now how long they could live using only their resources. Anyways, the majority of European governments would have decided to buy natural gas in Russia despite the fact that it would strengthen Russia’s economy. In a short-term perspective a lot of these problems could be solved by way of compromise and restarting the dialogue with Russian government. Can Europe follow this way? Without a doubt. Will they have a chance to do it? Probably not, because Europe depends on US as well as it depends on Russia. How can they find a decision which would be acceptable for anyone? It’s kind of question which can’t be answered for 5 months. It’s clear that Europe will soon collide with very cold winter. How is it justified and what will be Europeans attitude for these events, – upcoming half of the year will show us that. We can only wait what decision will be made by the leaders of “free” and “independent” Europe.
NATO stirred the pot decades ago when it refused admission for Russia and encouraged former Soviet republics and satellites to join the western alliance at a time when the Cold War appeared to end and the opportunity for warm relations with Russia finally arose. Most Crimeans want to stay in Russia. It was originally part of Russia. Russia wanted the Donbas region to be independent because of the mixed groups (Russian and Ukrainian) and old Russian territory claims. Ukraine supported this plan in the Turkey summit with Russia until they realized that the US, Canada, and other countries would fund a proxy war. Now there’s no political resolution and endless suffering and war in Ukraine. How many more billions are Canadians willing to pay for Freeland’s war? We need a concrete timeline for a political solution.