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Will Russia win Slovakia’s election? This weekend's election could shatter the Nato consensus

Putin apologist, 'Trojan horse' – and Slovakia's next prime minister? (VLADIMIR SIMICEK/AFP via Getty Images)

Putin apologist, 'Trojan horse' – and Slovakia's next prime minister? (VLADIMIR SIMICEK/AFP via Getty Images)


September 28, 2023   8 mins

Topoľčany, Slovakia

Zita took pride in joining the European Union two decades ago, seeing it as a symbol of Slovakia’s new freedom. But now she is frightened. “I want a better future for the next generation. But I fear we will go back to the old ways. I fear that democracy, everything is in danger.” She knew what it was like to grow up under communism, remembers the infamous Soviet invasion in 1968 and describes how entering the European Union was a symbol of overturning that regime. Now, Slovakia faces a similar crossroads, split over the Ukraine war, and forced to choose between supporting the EU-Nato alliance or Putin’s invasion.

It is a decision that has split Zita’s family. She tells me, through tears, how her family is split like the country by issues at core of this vote. She has fallen out with her sister who backed Moscow in the war with neighbouring Ukraine, while she assists a refugee from Bakhmut. Her distress as we talked in Topoľčany, a small town best known for its brewery, personifies the tensions ahead of an election in this small country.

A Nato member, little Slovakia is, at present, among Kyiv’s staunchest supporters, rushing to supply air-defence missiles and fighter jets at the beginning of the invasion. But as the war has progressed, the country has become a test-bed for Kremlin disinformation. The polls remain tight, with the progressives taking a narrow lead yesterday, but many still anticipate the election of a pro-Russian populist. And whichever way the result falls, this contest represents a major challenge to the European consensus on the Ukraine war — and a further inroad for the continent’s rampant radical-Right.

Robert Fico, leader of the Slovakian Social Democracy (Smer) party, is the moving force behind all this, and a politician who stretches pragmatism to its limit. He was born in Topoľčany, trained as a lawyer and joined the Communists. But, after leaving their successor party, Fico posed as a “Third Way” progressive centrist in the vein of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair at a time when Slovakia, led by an autocrat with connections to organised crime, was seen as Europe’s democratic laggard. This ushered him into power as prime minister and he ran the country for a decade. Then his second government collapsed in 2018, after mass protests following the murder of Ján Kuciak — a journalist investigating state corruption and government ties to the Italian mafia — and his fiancé Martina Kušnírová shook the capital.

Five years on, Fico has shrugged off attempts to tie him to the contract killing and stands on the threshold of power, having reinvented himself as an ultra-populist. After blaming George Soros for his downfall, he then exploited the struggles of his successors to cope with the pandemic, inflation and soaring energy prices. Today, he rails against green measures and migrants, rants about the threat of LGBT “ideology” and regurgitates Putin’s propaganda. “The war in Ukraine didn’t start yesterday or last year. It began in 2014 when the Ukrainian Nazis and fascists started to murder Russian citizens in Donbas and Luhansk,” he told a cheering crowd in Topoľčany last month.

Fico’s platform opposes EU sanctions on Moscow, seeks to end Slovakia’s military aid for Ukraine and stop Kyiv from joining Nato, and pushes for a peace deal that would let Putin keep occupied land. One former defence minister calls him a “Trojan horse” for the Kremlin. Others suggest he is being aided by Viktor Orbán in neighbouring Hungary, and Fico has been heavily promoted on state media there, which is watched by Slovakia’s sizeable Hungarian minority. Many Slovaks are concerned the Smer leader might follow the same path as the pugnacious Hungarian populist. And he certainly admires Orbán, according to Aneta Vilagi, a political scientist at Comenius University. “They are good political friends who understand they can help each other out,” she told me. “It would be useful for Orbán to have a similar voice with the same policies in the EU and Nato, while for Fico this shows you can be a member of the EU without being a cheerleader for the West.”

She sees Fico — a former academic at her university — as a threat to democracy. Grigorij Meseznikov, president of the Institute for Public Affairs, a think tank in Bratislava, believes that he wants to reduce space for political competition. “His number two has said freedom and peace come from the east, war comes from the west. But his main motivation is to protect himself after being officially named in three criminal investigations. He wants to gain power to change the law enforcement procedures.”

The day after I arrived in Bratislava there was a vivid demonstration of the passions aroused in this election. Igor Matovič, another former prime minister, drove up to a Smer campaign event in a pick-up truck emblazoned with the slogan “we will not hand you over to the mafia”. His protest was aimed at Fico’s ally Robert Kalinak, a central figure in the 2018 scandal. Matovič, an anti-graft campaigner who won the subsequent election but proved ill-suited to government, shouted that the ex-interior minister was a mafioso as the pair traded punches and kicks. “They’ve dragged Slovak politics to a new low,” despaired one prominent liberal politician.

This unruly confrontation was the perfect illustration of the intense feelings Fico stirs up. “I have never voted for Fico and never will vote for him — he robbed the state,” said Lucas, 39, a travel agent I met in Bratislava’s Old Town. “I’m even thinking of moving out of Slovakia because the politics is terrible, the corruption is terrible, the government is terrible.” Another woman told me she did not want to have children under his leadership. “I feel very sad he is coming back,” said Katerina, 35, a former flight attendant. “Everything he says is a lie or just populism, picking on topics of no importance for our people. I worry about democracy and freedom. I think it is going to go worse than Hungary.”

It is common to hear cynicism about politicians and see divisions in democratic societies. In this post-Communist country, these have been compounded by the turnover of four prime ministers in four years, with one poll indicating fewer than half the population now view liberal democracy as good for the nation. “I don’t know who to vote for because I don’t think anyone in the election deserves to represent our country,” said one resident in Topoľčany. Another voter there put it more bluntly: “They’re all dickheads who don’t think about the country at all.”

But some voters regard Fico as the solution. A few grudgingly told me they would back him because he was more competent than his successors, despite the corruption. “I will not support him directly but will back another party that will be in coalition since there has been so much going wrong over the last few years,” said Peter, a driver, before adding ruefully that there seemed to be “a lot of sudden animosity among our people”. The only person I spoke to who sounded enthusiastic was Lubonir, 60, a member of Fico’s party. “I see problems everywhere. We need to build it back up.” When pressed, the warehouse worker echoed Fico, claiming that the war was not a European conflict since it was really being fought between Russia and the United States. “I support helping Ukraine but not with weapons,” he added.

It might seem strange to find this approach in a country that was invaded by Moscow within living memory (even if Putin did say helpfully earlier this month that “it was a mistake” to send tanks into Czechoslovakia). Lurking in the background, however, is the dark shadow of Russian disinformation, which began targeting Slovakia after the 2014 theft of Crimea and assault on Donbas. “We saw the aim: to manipulate public opinion,” said Dominika Hajdu, policy director at the Centre for Democracy and Resilience at Globsec, a Bratislava-based research group. “It started with Ukraine but developed to divide society over democracy, the West, Nato or the migration crisis. Since the full-scale invasion, Ukraine has again become the central and polarising issue.”

Hajdu said they had seen an eruption of online sites recycling Kremlin propaganda. Entrepreneurial locals saw an opportunity, whether paid directly by Moscow or from advertising revenues, which were thought to be worth up to €71,500 a month for the most popular sites. One contributor to a prominent channel was caught on camera being paid by a Russian defence attaché, who said: “I told Moscow you are a good guy, that you have many friends, the Slovak mafia.” Another contributor to the site who wrote under a Slovakian name was found to be Russian. In Crimea, a prominent Russian news outlet set up a Slovak-language site.

And beyond the Soviet Union, there is a lingering sentimental attachment to Moscow dating back to a 19th-century pan-Slavic movement. One Globsec study in 2018 found that Slovaks were more likely than Czechs, Hungarians or Poles to look back favourably at the Soviet Union. Another revealed that half of them see the US as a security risk, a figure that has risen sharply in recent years. A poll taken across Eastern and Central Europe this year found only 40% of Slovaks blame Putin for the war, with one in four of them retaining a positive view of Russia’s despot, while half think either Ukraine or the West are “primarily responsible”.

“Slovakia is a big success for Russian propaganda with the Slovak audience very susceptible to its disinformation,” said Tomáš Strážay, director of the Slovak Foreign Policy Association. “They see Slovakia as a weak spot in Nato and Europe. Even in Hungary there is stronger support for Nato. Russia is using this opportunity.” Yet Strazay also blames domestic politicians for failing to promote liberal European values in a nation still building its statehood, saying that they simply see Brussels as “a cash machine” providing eight in every 10 euros of their public spending.

The toxicity of debate has already led Slovakia’s first female president to opt out of re-election next year. Zuzana Čaputová, an environmental activist, strong supporter of Ukraine and the most trusted politician in the country, won the post in wake of the 2018 post-assassination protests. It is largely ceremonial but appoints top judges, oversees the armed forces and can veto laws passed by parliament. Three months ago, Čaputová said she would not run again after receiving death threats and worrying about her family. Last week she declared that she was suing Fico over his false claims that she is an “American agent” and Soros stooge. “Making someone a target with hateful lies has cost people’s lives already in Slovakia,” she said.

The schism over Ukraine is deep, but there are widely shared concerns over issues such as education, globalisation, governance and inequality that Fico exploits with skill. He is part of a continent-wide tide of anti-establishment populism on Left and Right that last year attracted almost one-in-three voters participating in elections. Yet he has provoked intense speculation among Western diplomats over his real aims. One predicted he would be “a thorn in the side for Nato”, joining “the awkward squad with Orbán”. This envoy added that there had been a belief in the West that Eastern and Central Europe were “safe and democratic” although the rule of law was still taking root in some nations. “Russia has seen this and knows they are in play.”

Much depends on the the number of parties reaching the 5% threshold needed to win seats, since this will determine the shape of any governing coalition. And if he wins, Fico might re-adopt his previous strategy of strong rhetoric against Brussels and Washington at home while soothing allies abroad. But one thing is for sure: the world has greatly changed from when he was last in office in 2018.

Before leaving Bratislava, I meet Meseznikov, the Russian-born and Jewish analyst who runs the Institute for Public Affairs. “Just look around us here in this square and you see a Western nation,” he said with a sweep of his arm. “We are in the happiest time in our history in our region. We live in free societies, the borders are open, we can travel, there is freedom, we are members of Nato and the EU. There is a stable life in an area that has seen so many battles, ethnic cleansing, really bad social conditions. Sure, there are problems, some groups of people do not enjoy such good lives, voters have seen chaotic government — but these are the best of times. Sadly, now we face Putin with his crazy and destructive ideas — and the ugly politics of Fico.” But the question to be answered on Saturday is: does Slovakia agree?


Ian Birrell is an award-winning foreign reporter and columnist. He is also the founder, with Damon Albarn, of Africa Express.

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Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
6 months ago

Wow!!! Words fail me. I was thinking this was a parody of actual real journalism and there would be a punch line at the end. Guess I was wrong.

The author basically strung together a bunch of deep state, neo-liberal talking points and mushed them into an essay. There’s the obligatory binary – if you don’t support NATO you are therefore pro Putin.

There’s a smorgasbord of tropes:
*Russian disinformation
*Russian propaganda
*Rampant right wing radicalization
*Corruption allegations
*Victor Orban smears
*Threats to democracy

Even if you strongly support everything the US and NATO are doing, it should be hard to take this essay seriously. I’m glad Unherd published this. It serves as a reminder of junk journalism.

Amy Harris
Amy Harris
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Well said! It is utter junk! Another Soros stooge. They are all clones with nothing original or thoughtful to say.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Have you considered:
Whether Russia is making a major effort to influence local opinion and whether Russian propaganda has had a major effect on Slovakian politics?

Whether Fico actually is corrupt and connected to the local Mafia?

Whether the speculation on Fico’s future policies is realistic?

Whether the view of popular opinion is correct?

Even if you do not like any of these points, they are all possible, at least in theory.

Do you have any evidence that they are wrong?

Last edited 6 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
6 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I know nothing about Slovakia, but this isn’t journalism. It’s emotion and innuendo, which immediately makes it all unbelievable. It’s a propaganda piece that Victoria Nuland would write.

I won’t bother listing all the offensive statements, but here’s a sample. These are all evidence free statements from the first five paragraphs. They are either wrong on their face, very unlikely or unknowable.

“…forced to choose between supporting the EU-Nato alliance or Putin’s invasion.”

“She has fallen out with her sister who backed Moscow in the war with neighbouring Ukraine.”

“…and a further inroad for the continent’s rampant radical-Right.”

“…Fico posed as a “Third Way” progressive centrist in the vein of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair…”

“…Fico has shrugged off attempts to tie him to the contract killing.”

“…he then exploited the struggles of his successors to cope with the pandemic, inflation and soaring energy prices.”

I could literally highlight something from every paragraph of this smear job. Fico could be a very bad man for all I know, but this isn’t journalism.

Last edited 6 months ago by Jim Veenbaas
Rasmus Fogh
RF
Rasmus Fogh
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Ian Birrell clearly does not like Fico, and it shows. But near as I can see the facts presented are pretty clear in each of your examples, and whether you agree with the attitude or not the article does tell you about the situation in Slovakia Slovenia. Personally I rather like the combination of facts with an clearly stated opinion – much like the Economist does it. It can make it easier to see where people are coming from

It would be easy enough to rewrite all your examples to have the opposite slant but the same factual information. Just a couple:

– “Forced to choose between solidarity with their Russian neighbours and the encroachment of the US and their NATO stooges”
– “Another victory for the anti-elite movement in Europe”
– “Fico has successfully defended himself against attempts to frame him for complicity with a Mafia hit”
You can probably do them better yourself. I would say this compares quite favourably with a lot of the COVID coverage. At least here there is information, instead of simply recycling the standard anti-Lockdown, anti-vaccine assumptions. It takes both sides to make an Unherd.

Last edited 6 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
Andy White
Andy White
6 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Slovakia (not Slovenia)

b blimbax
b blimbax
6 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

“It takes both sides to make an Unherd.”
Yet the article is so laughably one-sided.

Perry de Havilland
Perry de Havilland
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I know nothing about Slovakia

You clearly don’t, indeed I wonder if you could find it on a map. It’s not a smear job if it’s true, and true it is.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
ER
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
6 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Add to that
“the 2014 theft of Crimea” A simplification and a gross overstatement
“Slovakia is a big success for Russian propaganda with the Slovak audience very susceptible to its disinformation”. Put another way Slovakia has been a huge failure for Western propaganda with the audience very resistant to the West’s disinformation

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago

How did it happen that Russia’s entire Black Sea fleet is stationer in Ukraine.. it seems a little odd don’t you think? I wonder if we refer to history will that help?

Kat L
Kat L
6 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I subscribe to a Substack where the American author actually lives in Hungary and what he describes is much different than the media description. Additionally anyone who still describes Clinton and Blair as moderates is not to be trusted as truth tellers.

Liam O'Mahony
LO
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

He who asserts is required to offer evidence – he who questions it is not.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Too true, sadly..

b blimbax
BB
b blimbax
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You overlooked the reference “to Russia’s despot.” But thank you (and thanks to many other commenters) for the comment, it saved me the trouble. This is one of the most ham-handed, slanted, cherry-picked pieces of writing I’ve seen on UnHerd, even if it is written by “an award-winning foreign reporter and columnist.” The lack of objectivity is hard to miss.

Amy Harris
Amy Harris
6 months ago

“…the country has become a test-bed for Kremlin disinformation.”

Is it not also a test-bed for NATO disinformation?

That the “war in Ukraine didn’t start yesterday or last year. It began in 2014 when the Ukrainian Nazis and fascists started to murder Russian citizens in Donbas and Luhansk” is TRUE. Just because “nasty Putin” said it doesn’t make it not true.

This piece reeks of ignorance, arrogance and prejudice. Ugh! Its so one-sided, it’s textbook propaganda.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
6 months ago
Reply to  Amy Harris

“It began in 2014 when the Ukrainian Nazis and fascists started to murder Russian citizens in Donbas and Luhansk” is TRUE.”
================
Says you lol. How do you know?

T Bone
T Bone
6 months ago

There’s a contradiction in progressive Imperialism. On one hand Democracy=good but Populism=bad.

The only way to resolve the contradiction in their dialectic is through what amounts to “Approved Populism.” So if progressive outsiders work to discredit Populism in any nation that doesn’t conform to progressive values, how can progressives say they believe in Democracy if they clearly think any vote they don’t approve of is Anti-Democratic Populism?

If you say you stand for Global “Democracy” than you would respect the right of other countries to choose their leaders without interference.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
6 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Well said. I have been questionning the Populism=bad thing for about a year on UnHerd. I really believe that it’s a snobbish thing. If somebody is elected without a deep plan, then it must be bad. If people like the candidate and vote accordingly, that must be bad.
Today, politicians are just crowd-pleasers who respond to sound bites. They are all populists or trying hard to be populists and that is what democracy means.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago

Precisely, time for Lawrence FOX to be PM, and Nigel FARAGE to be Foreign Secretary.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
6 months ago

Not going to happen though because Nigel Farage, especially, is one of the most hated men around. Michelle Dewberry would be better but those in the south might not be able to understand what she says.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago

Hated by who? The ‘media mob’ of emotional spastics, who are NOT worth even a Tinkers’s cuss!
The ‘twits’ to use your choice of words, would follow him to the ends of the earth, as you well know.
As or Dewberry* has she never heard of elocution lessons? Or forgotten what GBS said about speech?

(* Is she the one who famously lost her self control the other day? Or am I mistaking her for another? There are just so many these I can’t keep up!)

Last edited 6 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago

You forget GBS was a Paddy Charlie!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago

..and Charlie Stanhope to be Chancellor of the Exchequer no doubt. We’re onto ye Charlie…

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
6 months ago

I’d pay for a ringside seat at that particular circus of incompetence. Mind you, Far-rage would need to be elected first, and he’s failed on 7 previous occasions, so good luck with that one

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago

No.. that is Direct Democracy. What we have is Representative Democracy, a very different system.. You vote on characteristics and promises and, hopefully a look at ‘form’ as well, individual and collective (party)..
Sadly, too many are swayed by good looks, rhetoric and false promises.. and not enough by hard facts, ie current and recent ‘form’ and sound, costed policies.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
6 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Hardly anybody nowadays understands the difference between direct / plebiscite and representative democracy. A familiar Brexit rage-point (one of many) is that a representative democracy does not function as a plebiscite democracy. They think it ought to, lol, which shocking ignorance reveals much about the calibre of people who supported Brexit.   

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

How about “Reasoned, Informed, Justifiable, Moral Populism”? Sadly, the pop bit of populism is too often unreasonable, ill-informed, immoral and unjustifiable.. Wouldn’t it be great if, as well as casting your vote you had to say why you voted for one over the other?

R Wright
RW
R Wright
6 months ago

An abysmal article. If anything it made me hope that the populist wins so the smug gets drained out from that country and its effete political-NGO-activist ruling caste.

D Walsh
D Walsh
6 months ago

I wonder who pays the bills at the Institute of Public Affairs ?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
6 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

The EU would be my guess, seeing as Slovakia is a member and receives a lot of money from the bloc for development. What’s your point?

D Walsh
DW
D Walsh
6 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

George Soros is a bigger danger to Slovakia/Europe/US than Vladimir Putin

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
6 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

I’m no fan of Soros or his politics, but I’m not going to compare a man using his wealth to buy and influence politicians to one who happily fires cruise missiles into tower blocks full of civilians

Last edited 6 months ago by Billy Bob
Kat L
KL
Kat L
6 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

What about district attorney’s who let criminals walk? Soros got them elected, he’s behind every nefarious NGO who wreak havoc in the west. He throws a different kind of bomb but no less dangerous to the hapless populations who suffer them.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
6 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Sure, and the EU is a tyranny, and mask wearing is tyranny. Meanwhile. rockets into civilian areas and drunk Asian-“Russian” rapists terrorising civilians, well, nothing to see here, as far you’re concerned. Change your mirror mate, it’s not working.  

R Wright
RW
R Wright
6 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

According to their website, top of the list is the Open Society Foundation owned by one Mr Soros.

https://www.ivo.sk/3809/en/about-ivo/who-support-us

The list is a veritable Who’s Who of usual suspects.

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
6 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

This is absolutely hilarious.

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
6 months ago

This reads like typical EU/NATO propaganda—-the word choices, the phrasing, the “some people say” accusations and assertions. Even if largely true about Fico and Russian influence, it is so obviously written to manipulate rather than enlighten, it loses all credibility.

Tyler Durden
TD
Tyler Durden
6 months ago

Germany has found itself burning even more coal as it waters down its industrial Net Zero to nothing. British armchair warriors aside, the rest of Europe wants this war over by Christmas. I’d say Western Europe but the Polish seem to have given up on it too, polling much like the American public.

Dick Barrett
DB
Dick Barrett
6 months ago

Like him or hate him, the election of Fico could potentially speed up an end to this terrible war. I never ceased to be amazed at how “environmental activists” and others are on the side of the EU and NATO. In any case, there is a hysteria in the West about “misinformation” which makes me rather suspicious. Is all the misinformation necessarily coming from the axis of evil?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
6 months ago
Reply to  Dick Barrett

As always, the only way to end a war quickly (trerrible or not) is to surrender to the other side.

David McKee
DM
David McKee
6 months ago

Ian Birrell and I do not see eye to eye over Brexit, but we can park that. He has a reputation for being a damn good journalist and an honest man. So I am inclined to take his report of modern-day Slovakia seriously. Bratislava, the Slovak capital, might only be a short hop from Vienna, but it crosses a huge fault-line in Europe’s history. Eastern Europe is a very, very different place from Western Europe. If you doubt that, google ‘Father Tiso’ and see what went on there within living memory.

Andrew F
Andrew F
6 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

You beat me to it.
Yes Father Tiso.
I guess Slovakians just like being ruled by dictators or their helpers.
There is possibility, not mentioned in article, that Slovakians might feel that their minority in Ukraine is mistreated?
This is the main reason why Hungary is so reluctant to help Ukraine.
Still, with many Hungarians I know complaining about treatment of their minority in Slovakia, I am not sure how this supposed Hungarian alliance will work.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago

.Which part of…
“The war in Ukraine didn’t start yesterday or last year. It began in 2014 when the Ukrainian Nazis and fascists started to murder Russian citizens in Donbas and Luhansk,”
… is inaccurate? Is it reneging on the “not an inch Eastward (NATO) or the breaking the Minsk Accords? I don’t really expect propaganda on Unherd, treferred to yes but regurgitated, no!
Can we focus on undeniable facts and draw our own conclusions please?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
6 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

You mean like the undeniable fact that Russia grabbed legally Ukrainian territory and launched a major war to get even more?

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
6 months ago

“ It started with Ukraine but developed to divide society over democracy, the West, Nato or the migration crisis.”

My suggestion to Ian Birrel and other writers and politicians of a left liberal bent is this. Stop blaming Russia for your mistakes and ideology. If Russia is amplifying the migration crisis, then you know what to do. Stop the migration crisis. If Russia is appealing to people disgusted with the new rejection of gender then you know what to do. Stop rejecting biology. If Russia is propagandising people disgusted with the continuous and ugly attacks on European culture and white people in general then you know what to do. Stop doing that.

And while we are at it, what is democracy worth if it doesn’t guarantee freedom, in particular freedom of speech?

Ranting about authoritarianism in Hungary isn’t going to work, now that you want to jail people for believing in scientific facts.

You know what to do Ian, and you can do it as an insider – changing opinion dinner party by dinner party if you must.

Jeff Dudgeon
Jeff Dudgeon
6 months ago

Will Fico’s ally and former presidential candidate Maros Sefcovic be recalled from Brussels to become the new Foreign Minister? If so, we might get relief from his torturing of the UK over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Guy Austin
Guy Austin
6 months ago

Reading all the comments above I wonder if I’m the only person thinking we have been swamped by comments from Russian agents?

Philip Barnard
Philip Barnard
6 months ago
Reply to  Guy Austin

You are not. The pro-Putin bias of the comments is palpable.

Amy Harris
AH
Amy Harris
6 months ago
Reply to  Philip Barnard

I don’t see a single “pro-Putin” comment. I see many “anti shoddy journalism” comments and a few “anti NATO/Soros propaganda” comments but no comments that are directly “pro-Putin”. Could you point them out?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
6 months ago
Reply to  Philip Barnard

Anyone who questions the regime narrative is automatically a Putin supporter. Good to know. What if someone believes the west needs to support Ukraine, but thinks the military industrial complex in the US has deliberately squashed negotiations to sell more weapons, and have sacrificed thousands of Ukrainian lives in a proxy war with Russia?

Amy Harris
Amy Harris
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Exactly this!!

Andrew F
Andrew F
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Unfortunately, you might be genuine doubter, but most comments are along the lines:
“if only Ukraine surrendered all would be well”
There can be no negotiation with genocidal Russian imperialism.
My problem with West response is that many more weapons should had been sent much earlier.
If Ukraine chooses to negotiate, it is their choice.
I see no sign of that.
Russia can end the war quickly by withdrawing from Ukraine.
Appeasing dictators like Putin only delays inevitable.
Just remember Munich.