Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently stated during an interview with CNN Portugal that there were deep divisions among key EU nations leading up to the war in Ukraine. According to him, the French were “in denial right up to the last moment” and the Italians were reluctant to join other EU nations in their stance against Russia due to their “massive” reliance on Russian hydrocarbons.
The most interesting but perhaps unsurprising comment made by Johnson was that, for “all sorts of sound economic reasons”, Germany initially favoured a swift defeat for Ukraine
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Germany has since denied Johnson’s claim, stating that he “has a unique relationship with the truth”. However, former Ukrainian ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk previously said that during his meeting with German Finance Minister Christian Lindner on day one of the war, the latter smilingly told him that Ukraine would only last a few hours.
If indeed true, Germany’s initial economic concerns were more than valid given it is now struggling with a severe energy crisis and rising inflation, with German food price inflation jumping 20.3% year on year in October. German Economy Minister Habeck also recently stated that Germany will incur losses of €60 billion in 2022 and €100 billion in 2023 due to being forced to purchase more expensive energy.
Although European leaders have continually praised European unity and solidarity over Ukraine, the reality may not be what it seems. Deep divisions remain over the EU’s proposed gas price cap, with media reporting that the energy crisis “has divided the 27-nation bloc in almost irreconcilable blocs”. Anti-war protests have also spread across Central Europe, signalling growing discontent among European citizens over the economic impact of western sanctions.