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4 Mar, 2024 16:20

Zelensky and the West have found a new scam – and taxpayers will foot the bill

Ukraine now self-identifies as a weapons maker and wants help transitioning
Zelensky and the West have found a new scam – and taxpayers will foot the bill

What do you do to boost GDP when your country is neck-deep in military conflict and your allies’ main interest is using you to wash taxpayer cash into their own military industrial complexes? Make that your whole national identity! And demand that the West help you transition.  

“Our country will become one of the world’s key producers of weapons and defense systems. And this is no longer just an ambition or a prospect, it is a potential that is already being realized,” Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said in September 2023. That plea has echoed all over the Western press. You’d think that it may have thought to “realize” that “potential” before it went live with the big “Ukrainian counteroffensive” show. But hey, making lemonade from lemons, there’s definitely a business opportunity in losing on the battlefield that wouldn’t exist if Ukraine had proven to be adequately stocked up and victorious. Any ambulance-chasing weapons salesman would be attracted by that. And on top of that, Russia’s whole stated objective from the very outset has been “de-militarization.” Right now, Ukraine is to Western weapons producers what the Cheesecake Factory is to a fat kid. 

Those slightly less cynical might be tempted to view all this as the path to victory for Ukraine, but a recent incident strongly suggests otherwise. In a leaked audio recording obtained by Russian intelligence and authenticated by the German government, senior Luftwaffe officers, including the Air Force’s chief, are overheard talking about how even the delivery of the German Taurus missiles to Kiev wouldn’t change the course of the conflict in Ukraine’s favor. If even the gold standard German cruise missile that doubles the strike distance of its Western rivals isn’t considered a game changer in the overall conflict with Russia at this point, then odds don’t sound too good for much else. 

And who’s going to pay for Ukraine’s identity change, anyway? Western Europe and the US will pay for the transition, of course. Just as they’re also paying to keep all of Ukrainian society afloat, funding salaries and pensions. It’s not like investors are flocking to Ukraine right now. Much of the weapons-making infrastructure from the Cold War has been decimated, and in a country that ranks near the top of the global corruption index, it probably won’t come as a surprise that the industry itself is rife with “mismanagement.”  

While it’s clear who’s going to pay, what’s less obvious is who will actually benefit from turning Ukraine into a giant factory showroom for Western weapons. 

Some Western arms manufacturers have rushed into Ukraine to set up shop, such as Germany’s Rheinmetall, which started operating an armored vehicle plant in the country last year. Guess it’s just good business to be cranking out tanks right on the battlefield where they can be blown up coming off the assembly line. May as well just set fire to that Western taxpayer cash funding this charade the moment that it pops out of the ATM. 

Rheinmetall also announced last month it’ll be setting up a joint ammunition factory in Ukraine, as well. Does this attempt to outgun Russia in conventional warfare at this late stage in the game come from a place of genuine belief? Or is it just Germany’s way to keep up the racket for as long as it can? After all, Rheinmetall never had it so good. No doubt it’s just a coincidence that its stock started soaring a few days after the conflict popped off in Ukraine and has only gone up astronomically since, from €133.6 beforehand to €214.80 on March 1, 2022, and €429.10 on March 1, 2024. 

In August 2023, Britain’s BAE Systems announced its plans to “facilitate the production of 105mm Light Guns in the country.” The Guardian reported shortly thereafter that the opportunity would provide a much-needed job boost for the war-torn economy. Not just for Ukraine, but for the EU, too. Pretty tough to produce weapons when it requires energy that’s now almost prohibitively expensive. No doubt it’s much cheaper to produce European weapons in Ukraine, which still gets its gas from Russia – unlike those in charge in the EU who have deliberately shunned their own supply of Russian energy to impress Kiev. Sticking it to Putin by leeching off Russian energy supplied to Kiev to make weapons to then use against Russia sounds about right. 

All these projects are joint ventures with a local Ukrainian partner. Let’s just say that the one who ends up wearing the pants in that partnership won’t be the country whose president, a former comedian, once went viral for his hands-free, pantless piano playing routine. Do they really think that German industry is going to be trusting these Ukrainian partners with sensitive defense manufacturing information and trade secrets? It’s a wonder that the Germans even trust the French with anything more than handling the interior decor in Europe’s Airbus venture. But we’re talking here about a war zone with eyes and ears everywhere. The point was proven when Russians recently disabled an American Abrams M1 A1 tank on the battlefield and found it stripped of sensitive technologies, likening the supposedly game changing weaponry to an “empty tin can.” 

Bilking Western taxpayers for cash under the guise of active warfare won’t last forever. So it seems like it’s a race against the clock to pivot to a new way to keep the flow open before peace breaks out and ruins everything.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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