ua en ru

Vladimir Putin’s useful idiots in Europe - The Economist

Vladimir Putin’s useful idiots in Europe - The Economist Russian dictator Vladimir Putin (Getty Images)
Author: Maria Kholina

Russia's attempts to expand its influence throughout Europe have not been successful, but some countries continue to promote the Kremlin's narratives about the war against Ukraine, according to The Economist.

The publication states that the spectrum of Europe’s Useful Idiots, a cold-war term for unwitting allies of communism, is wide. In politics, parties on both the far right and far left disagree on much; but over Ukraine these extremes have often converged in demanding an instant “peace” that would in effect reward Russian aggression with land.

Some Europeans have become confused and instead refer to Russia's war against Ukraine as "a proxy war between America and Russia", or perhaps, speculating more grandly still, "between America and China." And in the world of business, despite multiple rounds of Western sanctions, Russia still has plenty of “friends” too.

The "useful idiots" of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin

Putin has several so-called "assistants" in European governments. Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary since 2010, is one of them. The populist strongman has repeatedly criticised Western support for Ukraine and continued Hungary’s imports of Russian gas. His government also refuses to allow the transit of weapons given to Ukraine by Hungary’s fellow members of nato and the eu.

Greece, another EU member, is complying with the EU’s sanctions, but has balked at tightening any further those on shipping Russian oil, perhaps because Greek firms happen to pocket so much from the trade.

Cyprus, under strong pressure from the US, recently decided to shut down some 4,000 local bank accounts held by Russians..

Actively assisting Russia

Austria frequently emphasizes that it is not a member of NATO and cannot offer much assistance to Ukraine due to its trade ties.

Turkey and Serbia, which are not EU members, openly provide secret financial services to Russia.

Reluctant to provide military assistance

Switzerland, citing its neutrality, has wielded arcane local laws to block the supply of arms to Ukraine, including 96 mothballed Leopard tanks sitting in Italy that happen to belong to a private Swiss firm.

Countries with politicians supporting Russia

Slovakia, for instance, has been a vital conduit for Western aid and recently pledged its fleet of 13 Soviet-era Mig-29 fighter jets to the Ukrainian air force.

But polls show that the party of Robert Fico, a Russophile leftist who has blamed “Ukrainian Fascists” for provoking Mr Putin, looks likely to win national elections scheduled for September.

In Italy, the far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is a staunch supporter of Ukraine. However, Matteo Salvini, who leads the second-largest party in their coalition, is another opponent of sanctions and, at least until the invasion, was a supporter of Putin.

Recently, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, commented on the controversial statements made by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and said he was tired of refuting all these senseless arguments.

Additinally, the President of Croatia, Zoran Milanovic, criticized the slogan "Glory to Ukraine." He claimed that it is allegedly a call by chauvinists who collaborated with the Nazis.