There can be no winners in the war in Ukraine, except perhaps Solzhenitsyn.
This column was first published in L’Opinion on 23 march 2022
So many lies have been told about the reasons for the war in Ukraine that our democratic societies must question themselves about their own climb-downs and cowardice when faced with the truth.
“In war […] there are no winners” said Neville Chamberlain. The war in Ukraine, with all its ferocity, will prove to be no exception. The only triumph could be said to be Solzhenitsyn’s, in his denunciation of lies.
This is because all the losers will owe their losses to their lies. Russia under Vladimir Putin will end up succumbing to its fourfold lie. Firstly, the lie put about by its secret services who concealed the fact that the population of Ukraine had turned violently against Russia after the taking of Crimea in 2014. Secondly, the army’s lie, concealing the obsolescence of its equipment and the incompetence of its leaders. Thirdly, the lie inflicted on public opinion, soon to be uncovered and reveal subservience to China. Finally, Vladimir Putin’s lie that used “denazification” as justification for the heinous theft of the fourth largest mineral reserves in the world, just as the major step of environmental transition is about to be taken.
World governance. Lies are a highly contagious virus. China has caught the most elaborate form of this virus, i.e. doubletalk: combining “limitless” friendship with Russia and a sacrosanct respect for borders! It is quite true that, at first sight, Beijing seems to be the big winner from what is the real annexation involved in this war, not Russia’s annexation of Ukraine, but rather China’s annexation of Russia — for, as from 2025, Moscow’s gas exports will have no other destination than China. Furthermore, 141 UN member countries will make a most determining decision for the future by denying Moscow a voice in the way world governance will be defined. Moscow will no longer be able to be part of it.
At first sight, Beijing seems to be the big winner from what is the real annexation involved in this war, not Russia’s annexation of Ukraine, but rather China’s annexation of Russia — for, as from 2025, Moscow’s gas exports will have no other destination than China.
Europe is also finding out that there is a price to pay for having lied to itself. For example, Germany believed that globalization allowed it to subcontract out certain thankless tasks: defense went to the USA, energy to Russia, manufacturing to China. There has been a rude awakening, but it has brought with it a speedy reaction: in only a few days, Berlin has unblocked €100 billion to modernize its defense, and the European Commission has presented a plan for reducing its energy dependency on Russian hydrocarbons as from the winter of 2022. One essential thing remains to be done: the reconfiguration of European trade with China. Hopefully, this will head the agenda at the next Europe-China summit in April.
Perhaps the most pernicious form of lying is lying by omission, as illustrated in our presidential election campaign which, up to now, has always been off topic. Apart from the intolerable human drama involved, the war in Ukraine also exacerbates the crisis of environmental transition which, estimated at more than 3 points of GNP every year, will affect the next five-year presidential mandate, causing social deformation and coming with a violence that has not been seen since the period 1973–1975.
Is it in any way possible to dream of Macron as a “soldier-candidate” who, contrary to all his opponents, would finally tell the French the truth? Up against Putin’s Russia, our fight for freedom does not mean giving out compensation checks; it’s all about painful sacrifices when confronting the stagflation that awaits us over the next five years. These sacrifices seem ridiculously insignificant when compared to those that over 40 million Ukrainians are making for us at the moment, reminding us that, just like Solzhenitsyn, one should always prefer truth to lies.