The Spectator: “The Ukrainian administration has shown a master class in public relations. President Zelensky has become an overnight media sensation, transforming himself from a deeply unpopular politician to the exemplary military leader of our time. His government uses every ploy it can to keep the world interested. But six months into the conflict, ‘information fatigue’ sets in. The front pages of the European media write more about the cost of living than military operations. Opinion polls show that energy prices frighten people more than Russian nuclear bombs.”
Russian leaders hope the West will fare worse than their own country. And they are right. Not a day goes by without the phrase “gas crisis” in the headlines. Not surprisingly, the public mood in Europe is turning to doom and gloom.
At first, the shock of war on European soil rallied the West. But that was in the spring, when energy bills were low. Moving on to July, the picture changes markedly. Whereas in May an overwhelming 82% of Germans supported a tough stance on Russia, two months later 47% believe the sanctions are more damaging to their own country.
One can imagine the mood of people in Slovakia, Cyprus, Bulgaria and other EU countries whose purchasing power is not up to German standards. A survey in July showed that seven out of ten Czechs were worried about energy prices. In Greece, half the population simply does not pay their energy bills.
Closer to winter, worries could turn into despair and overdue payments into debts. Meanwhile, the war will drag on, changing the mood of Western audiences to one of mild indifference. Internal problems are bound to take over, as they always do.
More risks loom on the horizon. A combination of military, economic and climatic reasons could force Putin to declare “victory”, consolidate territorial gains in southern and eastern Ukraine and halt Russian operations.
In such a scenario, nothing would convince Western audiences to continue sacrificing money and comfort in support of Ukraine. Governments would face increasing pressure to “normalise” relations with Russia. And those who resist could be replaced by a friendly