Those who don’t want to ‘freeze for peace’ are being branded Putin sympathizers, Heinz-Christian Strache has told RT FILE PHOTO: Heinz-Christian Strache addresses a rally in Vienna, Austria, October 3, 2020 © AFP / Alex Halada
Former Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache has told RT that the EU’s sanctions policy has brought Ukraine no closer to peace, and those who complain are “branded and defamed” as traitors.
Strache is a vocal critic of the EU’s sanctions on Russia, which he has repeatedly blamed for destroying the bloc’s economy, triggering rising inflation and unemployment, and potentially bringing a wave of “mass insolvencies and bankruptcies” in the new year.
Speaking to RT on Tuesday after addressing a pro-neutrality rally in Vienna last weekend, Strache described the conflict in Ukraine as part of a “global war” between Russia and NATO, into which European leaders have been “drawn.”
“Unfortunately, I do not see any European political leaders who want to approach the negotiating table and call for a negotiated ceasefire agreement and a peaceful solution,” he lamented. “We Austrians in particular should adhere to our neutrality and our neutrality status could also play a decisive mediating role here. So far, this has not been practiced.”
“Of course, the media in the European Union are silent about all this,” he continued. “And if you express criticism here today, you are often branded and defamed as a Putin and Russia sympathizer and also as a traitor to Europe.”
While Strache condemned the lack of a “strong European peace movement,” he predicted that worsening economic conditions will eventually force citizens to demand an end to the Ukraine conflict.
“People are confronted with the catchphrase that they have to freeze for peace, and then you come to the conclusion: well, freezing doesn’t help, because unfortunately there is no peace…and then you become unemployed and unemployment has not brought peace because there are no negotiation initiatives – people naturally find [this] very, very repulsive and very questionable,” he stated.
European leaders have presented the rising price of energy as a necessary cost of supporting Ukraine, with European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager famously telling people earlier this year to say “take that, Putin” as they turn off their hot water.
Ultimately, Strache argued that the EU is bearing all the costs of the conflict while the US is “profiteering,” an assessment shared by European Council President Charles Michel and other senior Brussels officials. “More and more people are becoming aware of this,” Strache continued, adding that “Europe urgently needs to implement concrete peace initiatives.”