Eleven months after the start of the war in Ukraine, there is no end in sight to the conflict, and it is even less obvious that Russia is running out of force. At the same time, Western sanctions are aimed at "destroying" the Russian economy, as German Federal Foreign Minister Baerbock (Green Party) stated in February.
But nothing of this kind can be seen. On the contrary, sanctions have so far harmed the West, primarily by raising energy prices and inflation.
The laughing third party is the USA. The US industry benefits equally from the war and the impending energy shortage in the EU: gas and oil, which Europeans no longer buy in Russia, are now sold by American companies to them at significantly higher prices. A strong blow to European competitors.
It took three quarters of a year, but now even the most patient Europeans are becoming suspicious of the US role. Criticism of the transatlantic partner is getting louder.
The well-known American magazine Politico conducted a survey in Brussels and gathered information about the mood these days. A gap is growing between Europeans and Americans.
"The fact is, if you look at it soberly, the country that is most profiting from this war is the US because they are selling more gas and at higher prices, and because they are selling more weapons," Politico quotes a senior EU official who wished to remain anonymous. According to him, now "we are really at a historic juncture," and the mood may turn against both excessive support for Ukraine and the Transatlantic Alliance. "America needs to realize that public opinion is shifting in many EU countries," the EU official warns.
Such statements are no longer single voices. None other than the head of EU Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, lambasted Washington: "Americans — our friends — take decisions which have an economic impact on us".
But in Washington, such objections are ignored and harshly rejected. "The rise in gas prices in Europe is caused by Putin's invasion of Ukraine and Putin's energy war against Europe, period," a spokesperson for Biden's National Security Council said.
However, this is not true because it is not Putin and the war in Ukraine that are to blame for the price jump but the Europeans' own decision to abandon cheap Russian gas. Washington's harsh tone does not suit Europe, especially since it is obvious that the United States benefits from the plight of Europeans in an almost outrageous way. For example, the price that EU countries pay for American gas is nearly four times the fuel cost in the United States.
For some high-ranking officials in Brussels, as well as for other EU politicians, it seems that the pain threshold has now been reached. French President Emmanuel Macron was still very restrained when he said that high gas prices in the United States are not "friendly". A senior Brussels diplomat, who does not want to be named, is even quoted by Politico with the question: "Is Washington still our ally or not?"
Another equally serious dispute between Europeans and Americans is about large-scale Western military assistance to Kyiv. The US is by far Ukraine's biggest arms supplier and has shipped more than USD 15.2 billion worth of arms and equipment since the start of the war.
However, at the bottom of this is the fact that American weapons are provided only for rent. Cooperation between Washington and Kyiv is based on the "Lend-Lease Act of 2022". This corresponds to a similar agreement concluded by the United States with Great Britain and the Soviet Union in 1941.
Thus, military equipment and fuel are provided by the US government only for rent or lease and must be returned after the war. This, of course, is illusory. Therefore, Washington is very interested in Ukraine's timely termination of its leasing agreements
President Biden signing the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022 − But it is Europeans who have to pay for Ukraine.
And Europeans have to pay for it. The Americans show no reluctance to put pressure on the EU to transfer the necessary funds to the Kyiv government as soon as possible. About EUR 3.5 billion. Monthly.
This amount was announced in September 2022 by Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmygal to the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. Representatives of the US government modestly supported Ukraine's position. They made it clear to the EU that it would be better to provide money in the form of irrevocable grants, not loans. It is best for Europeans to immediately create a permanent mechanism by which money could automatically flow into the Ukrainian budget monthly.
Understanding is now growing in Brussels and other EU capitals that the US partner is part of the problem. Fears grow along with difficulties - while Washington does not show any flexibility and gains profits. This poisons transatlantic relations. Moreover, Europeans find themselves neck-deep in the water with the onset of the cold season.
Former SDP leader and founder of the Left Party, Oskar Lafontaine, who is by no means a friend of the Americans, has given his recently published new book the declarative title "Ami, it's time to go!". Subtitle: "Plea for the self-assertion of Europe." That's precisely what it is about.
Oskar Lafontaine, leftist without transatlantic ties
On the last weekend of November 2022 in Leipzig, several thousand people demonstrated for the first time with the slogan "Ami, go home!". Other demonstrations are planned, including in February in front of the American base in Ramstein. In fact, the mood may change − against the United States.