There is no denying that the Trip of the Three PMs to Kyiv got a shitload of international attention and was billed as some sort of a diplomatic and geopolitical feat. For a fleeting moment, Janez Janša, Petr Fiala and Mateusz Morawiecki (together with his boss Jarosław Kaczyński) caught the attention of the world.
Virtually every outlet out there, from the New York Times to Deutsche Welle to South China Morning Post ran the same basic story: thee PMs plus the real ruler of Poland met the Ukrainian with balls of steel, and said words. Incidentally, this is probably the first and the last time Marshal Twito made the front page of the Luxemburger Wort.
But while the basic plot line was about the show of EU solidarity with Ukraine and Volodimir Zelensky, Brussels let it be known in no uncertain terms the trip was unsanctioned. The EU and NATO did not know about it beforehand. It also begs the question of what exactly, apart from more words, did the three PMs (plus the real ruler of Poland) bring to Kyiv.
In spite of that, there was enormous pressure in Muddy Hollows over the past 24 to 48 hours to present the trip as nothing but an unmitigated success and a showcase for Glorious Leader statecraft abilities.
As both readers know, Muddy Hollows is up for a parliamentary vote in slightly over a month. Regardless, it seems too crass to suggest that Janša caught the train to Kyiv purely for electioneering purposes, what with the war and all that. After all, the dude was one of the most vocal proponents of a no-fly zone above Ukraine, irrespective of the fact that it probably lead to a shooting war between Russia and the US.
But therein lies the problem. While the Glorious Leader was talking the talk for domestic consumption, he was much more careful when it came to walking the walk abroad.
Versailles No-Fly Zone
Take, if you will, his doorstep at the recent EU leaders’ pow-wow in Versailles, France. Asked about how other EU leaders saw his ideas of a NATO imposed no-fly zone over Ukraine, the tough-guy-not-to-be-fucked-with Janša suddenly disappeared and was replaced with a conniving, shifty, politicking Janša.
He went on at length about how a “no-fly zone” can be many different things. He also had this brilliant insight to suggest that Ukrainians themselves could police their no-fly zone, if properly armed.
Which is, of course, exactly what NATO countries have been doing for the past several months. With some success, it should be added, as the nominally vastly superior Russian air force had failed miserably in achieving air superiority.
With this in mind, Janša’s visit to Kyiv should also be seen as an attempt to recast himself as some sort of a strategically minded leader. With elections only weeks away, this is nothing short of shameless electioneering.
Turns out Janša can be crass like that.
Janez Marie Antoniette Janša
You see, Janez Janša has an image problem. As both readers of this blog know, that is hardly news. Still, the last couple of weeks have not been good to him. And it is not just the fallout from his continued siege of the country’s public radio and television.
The people are already starting to feel the squeeze of price hikes and gas shortages. The government was forced to re-introduce price controls for diesel and gasoline, to at least slow down rising prices. Teachers just held a one-day strike, demanding better pay after the government broke the public sector wage system by singling out doctors for a wage increase.
Then there was Janša channeling his inner Marie Antoinette when he quipped that the upcoming price hikes will not cause hunger but that the people might have to forgo “ten types of croissants”.
As far as bad moves go, this is about as bad as it gets. I mean, calling your own electorate spoilt brats, devouring ten types of croissants when – presumably a simple diet of bread and water would suffice?
Time is a flat circle
Not only is this insulting, it is also amazingly tone deaf, as it is often the poorest strata of societies who feel the brunt of nominally small-scale inflation. A price hike for flour and pasta may be statistically offset by a price drop in fish.
But if staple food is all your family can afford, you only experience the price hike. Inflation inequality is a bitch and Janša is again proving himself to be an out of touch elitist who doesn’t give a shit about “the common man”.
The last time an off-handed comment about staple food came back to haunt a leading politician in Muddy Hollows was way back in 2007 when (*checks notes*) PM Janša claimed rising inflation cannot be a problem while he sees loaves of bread discarded in dustbins.
Time is a flat circle.
With this in mind, it is obvious that not looking at Janša tagging along to see Zelensky from a domestic policy angle is to ignore the elephant in the room. Which is precisely what Marshal Twito and his Twitter legion want.
It was not that long ago, when Janša’s Orban-funded media machinery flat out mocked Zelensky, calling him an incompetent fool unfit to run a country. This was echoed by Janša’s close collaborators, labelling Zelensky a swindler and a puppet of a Russian oligarch.
Which is exactly why Janša’s trip to Kyiv must be seen primarily though the optics of internal Slovenian politics. Janša needed something to prevent his short-sighted self-centered political miscalculations biting him in the ass more than they already have. What better way to do that than to have your picture taken in the company of a man with real cojones.
Because the Ukraninan with balls of steel got very little from this meeting. The Three Men from the Eastern West (and the senile dotard) literally brought him nothing but words.
OK, so the Poles were looking into giving him their MiGs before that turned out to be more trouble than it is worth. Pengovsky is not exactly sure what Czech PM Fila’s angle was, but Janša sure as fuck didn’t bring anything beyond a pat on the back and a job well done.
If you as pengovsky, there is probably a reason why Zelensky’s Twitter account never mentions Janša, himself a prolific Twitter user.
At least Marshal Twito got to ride a train and look at a map. 1914 called and wants its photo album back.