That a Threat? Zelensky Warns Ukrainians in Europe Could Act ‘Unpredictably’ if Western Aid Is Cut

Don’t push Ukrainians into a corner by cutting Western support for the war or else the millions of refugees who have presently “behaved well” in Europe may start to act unpredictably, President Zelensky has said.

Speaking to a British centre-left-leaning news magazine, the Ukrainian President has made remarks that may to some ears sound like a threat, or at least a dire warning, as he spoke of the possible negative consequences for European nations if they reduced the donations and aid given to his country. While the interview with the Economist largely paraphrases Zelensky’s words — as a non-native speaker his English can be a little convoluted — the meaning appears from their writing to be clear, as the magazine warns curtailing aid would “create risks for the West in its own backyard”.

“There is no way of predicting how the millions of Ukrainian refugees in European countries would react to their country being abandoned”, Zelensky is reported to have intoned, saying while they are grateful for the asylum they had been given during the war and had “behaved well” so far, this could apparently not be guaranteed to continue.

In perhaps some of the darkest words Zelensky has had for his European allies during the war, the magazine reports he told them: “…it would not be a ‘good story’ for Europe if it were to ‘drive these people into a corner’.”

The comments came in the context of a discussion on how to end the war sooner, and Zelensky’s intuition of “a change of mood” in Western leaders away from bottomless support as long as it will take as the counteroffensive falters. “I see that he or she is not here, not with us”, he said of the new attitude towards Ukraine he claims to have detected.

Portraying things in black-and-white George W. Bush-like terms, he told the magazine: “If you are not with Ukraine, you are with Russia, and if you are not with Russia, you are with Ukraine. And if partners do not help us, it means they will help Russia to win. That is it.”

While perhaps the starkest yet, these remarks are not the first time Zelensky has made clear he believed there are consequences waiting for Western nations that fail to help him rout the Russian invasion. As reported this week, Zelensky told CNN that it was better for Europe to fund and arm him now than to let Russia win and leave them emboldened to invade European Union and NATO member states next. Rhetorically, he asked: “You can feel it when your family is under attack. You really want to try it? I cannot recommend it”.

There are four million Ukrainian refugees in Europe, according to the European Union, with a million apiece in Poland and Germany alone, with a further 210,000 in the United Kingdom. While it is broadly presumed most will want to go home when the war finished, some research challenged this perception.

As reported, a German study found earlier this year that 44 per cent of those surveyed said they want to stay in Germany “forever” or at least for “a few more years”, with just 31 per cent wanting to return to their homeland upon the conclusion of the war.


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