PARIS — You know what they say about guys who wear the same outfit every day — like the late Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs in his black turtlenecks and jeans, or Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg with his hoodies, or former Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s military fatigues, or Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s plain khaki top and pants. Simplifying their wardrobe frees up intellectual bandwidth for more important things, such as, in Zelenskyy’s case, a Vogue magazine photoshoot, but also to multiply demands of his allies.
Zelenskyy’s calls for weapons resulted in EU countries giving their own away to the detriment of their own national security. “EU countries have responded to Ukraine’s call and supported it with weapons. However, arms deliveries to Ukraine have drained European stocks of ammunition, heavy and light artillery, air defense and anti-tank systems, as well as armored vehicles and tanks. This shortage creates a situation of vulnerability that must be addressed as a matter of urgency,” EU Internal Market Commissioner, Thierry Breton, said last month.
Zelenskyy’s calls for sanctions resulted in the EU sanctioning its own gas supply from Russia to the detriment of their own citizens and industry, with the now EU asking member states to ration gas consumption by 15 percent starting this month and at least into next year.
The fallout from the energy crunch has already hit Germany — Europe’s biggest economic engine — well ahead of winter, as authorities fire back up dirty coal plants, and consider doing the same with nuclear energy, while citizens have turned to stockpiling wood, and industry representatives worry about the impact on manufacturing. Meanwhile, public pools and showers are running cold in Hanover, while fountains run dry, and monuments go dark in Berlin. Even Oktoberfest is reportedly now on the chopping block.
Zelenskyy even asked the West for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, resulting in a rare refusal. As former White House spokesperson Jen Psaki pointed out, “it would essentially mean the U.S. military would be shooting down planes, Russian planes.” It would therefore have been the fastest path to World War III.
But now Team Zelenskyy is making demands of prominent Wall Street establishment executives and threatening nothing short of war crimes prosecution for refusal to comply. Ukraine is alleging war crimes against it by JPMorgan Chase, Citi, and HSBC, according to one of Zelensky’s economic advisers, Oleg Ustenko, who told the Financial Times that by engaging with companies that sell and trade Russian oil or gas or in Russian energy shares, like Gazprom, Rosneft, Lukoil, and Vitol, he believes that “they are committing war crimes.”
Team Zelenskyy is threatening to pursue the managers of these Wall Street companies personally all the way to the International Criminal Court, which the U.S. doesn’t actually recognize. In 2002, the U.S. passed the Hague Invasion Act during the Global War on Terrorism, allowing the U.S. to liberate any American or citizen of an allied country held by the court.
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If Washington was truly dedicated to helping the Ukrainian people, they would clear the path completely for Zelenskyy to chase Wall Street executives all the way to The Hague. Kindly step aside and let Zelenskyy do what no one on earth has yet been able to accomplish: clean up Wall Street.
Imagine the precedent that Zelenskyy could set. First, Wall Street management gets pursued like regular Pol Pots. After that, why not also let him hound executives, board members, and shareholders of the military industrial complex for war crimes? It’s not like the Western weapons being sent to Ukraine are innocuous. Zelenskyy should be going after the Western weapons manufacturers and dealers who sent weapons to Ukraine which have been captured by Russian forces and risk being used against his own people.
Maybe even NATO and the European Union could back Zelenskyy against the military-financial-industrial complex since they also raised the red flag last month on their own weapons being poorly tracked in Ukraine, with the potential to end up floating around Europe and falling into unknown hands. A Western official told the Financial Times that “we have no idea where they go, where they are used or even if they stay in the country.”
There’s an argument to be made for having the president of the second most corrupt country in Europe, as indicated by the Council of Europe, going after corruption.
If Zelenskyy is truly serious about peace, then by all means he should start with those who most profit from war. He certainly has a lot of material to work with among his own allies.
(Rachel Marsden is a columnist, political strategist and host of independently produced talk shows in French and English. Her website can be found at http://www.rachelmarsden.com.)
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