The initial solidarity with Ukraine is increasingly erupting. The more we all feel the effects of the war, the less willing we are to make our sacrifices for a peaceful Europe. And that in turn plays into Vladimir Putin’s hand.
When news went around the world 218 days ago that Russian troops were attacking Ukraine, there was great dismay. The taken for granted peace in Europe was replaced overnight by images of death, destruction and suffering. Shock, anger and an immense wave of solidarity followed. The tenor, in February: We stand behind Ukraine!
These are no longer just “Putin understanders”
Some six months later, the shock has settled and the anger against Putin has given way to domestic political exchanges. And the solidarity with the war victim, Ukraine? It is clearly disappearing. Those voices that say they are against arms supplies and the sanctions are no longer so easily pigeonholed as ‘Putin understanders’. They get louder and louder.
About a quarter of Austrians want an end to sanctions, according to a survey, and a staggering 42% do not believe the measures against Russia will have any effect. This is not the clear majority, but a not inconsiderable part of the Austrians. These numbers alone show that solidarity is shaky. And the longer this war lasts, the more war wear will spread among us.
Not to be confused: election campaign noise and substantive discussion
But watch out! The fact that not only the FPÖ is messing with the sanctions, but also that important voices of the People’s Party join the critics, has not only to do with the content. For example, if provincial councilor Anton Mattle sings along critically about the sanctions, it certainly has to do with the upcoming Tyrolean elections. This is more an act of desperation than an attempt to move us forward. There is a risk of confusion!
All this does not mean that we should question the sanctions against Russia overnight. But politicians need to listen more and deal more with those voices in our population that cast doubt on the action of the European Union. If they don’t, the frustration in our society will only increase and the rifts between us will only widen. And that’s exactly what Putin wants.