A new tug-of-war over Ukraine between U.K. and the E.U.?

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was hailed for his visit to Kyiv, where he and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky strolled the now-peaceful streets and greeted locals together.

Coming on the heels of days-recent bombings from Russia, it was pretty bold and courageous and you can bet a tough job for his security detail. 

Here's a tweet video of this political theatre, produced by Zelensky's defense ministry's savvy spin machine:

Boris saying 'thank you; in Ukrainian to a local who praised Britain was a nice touch.

Here's another from Johnson's public relations team:

It was both men at their theatrical best. Aside from the unusual specter of two leaders walking through a recent war zone, I was impressed by the swept-up rubble seen in distant heaps on the now-clean streets of Kyiv in the background of the video, along with earlier reports of Ukrainians doing swift Japan-like street clean-up, internet restorers on the job from makeshift desks on the sidewalks, and thousands of Ukrainian refugees now traveling back to be in their homeland. But big, fat, Boris and dancer-trim Volodymyr walking together in Kyiv did make a wonderful picture.

It was public relations, all right, and obviously intended to show goodwill.

Left unsaid anywhere in the news reports, though, was something that could be driving it, though: That European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, a top European Union official, had been in town the day earlier.

(Notice how they speak English, a language both know, to one another. So much for the EU's bid to rid itself of the English language now that Britain has departed.)

Von der Leyen came bringing pledges of $10 billion in aid for the war-torn country, and a bright shiny promise of European Union membership, declaring that Ukraine could be a "candidate" member as early as June. That's something they never extended to other late entrants to the European Union, who in the EU style, had to wait years or even decades for the EU bureaucrats to decide.

Who is von der Leyen? The very arrogant, haughty European Union official that Brexit leader Nigel Farage clashed with so spectacularly a few years ago. Farage called her a 'communist' which gives you the flavor.

It would make sense, of course. Vlad Putin, for one, doesn't care much if Ukraine joins the EU -- it's NATO he has a problem with -- so it's an easy thing for the EU to offer. Ukraine has huge resources, an educated, westernized, tech-savvy citizenry, and the largest population in Europe outside Russia. Some 44 million Ukrainians be added to the EU tally, raising the European club's clout level. Which, at this point, is pretty important to people like von der Leyen, because Brexit left a hole in the EU coffers as well as a considerably lower population. Ukraine to replace Britain probably wouldn't be as lucrative for the EU but longer-term, would fit the bill nicely. And how fine it would be for the EU's German rulers to be able to order Ukraine around to their standards, forcing them to take in waves of illegal migrants from the Middle East, change their weights and measurements, forbid their selling of odd-shaped cucumbers, and pay high EU-style taxes. Any balking, and they will find themselves sanctioned like Hungary was, which came just as Hungary was taking in tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees.

Which had to have been noticed in Britain, which is also looking for alliances now that it's pretty much on its own with the Brexit.

Could this Boris visit, so soon on the heels of the von der Leyen visit, have been a bid to pull Ukraine into a more independent or pro-Britain orbit? To keep Ukraine at a distance at least from the EU? Britain has spent a lot on heavy defense materiel for Ukraine, probably more than the EU has, and now has an investment of sorts to defend. Suddenly Boris turns up on the heels of von der Leyen's visit and fancy offerings, and now there looks like a tug of war for Ukraine again, this time between Britain and the EU and their respective orbits whereas, in the past, it was between Russia and a broader Europe and the West. 

Would EU membership be just the right thing for Ukraine? They've just fought a huge independence war against Russia, standing up for their own nation, on their own, and now their next step would be to join the eurochickens? It seems incongruous. If they don't like it, it's very hard to leave, they will endure a barrage of insults from the EU bureaucrats and legislators, as Britain did, and then be subject to whatever the Germans running the show would like them to do. They'll become a dumping ground for all of Germany's mistakes -- from migrants to toxic waste disposal from all of Germany's green schemes. Germany, of course, has still yet to reckon with its greenie failures and dependency on Russia which was the decision it made when it damned the torpedos against reality, scrapped its nuclear plants, declared it would "go green" and are now so in hock to Putin they can't stop buying Russian gas whose dollars fuel Putin's war machine against Ukraine.

As for Ukraine, the war still isn't over. All of this rush to rebuild is understandable, and admirable actually, but that's peacetime stuff, and their war is not over.

It's natural for them to want to expand their links to the West -- their best ally Poland, after all, has. But they need to talk to Poland about whether EU membership, and getting ordered around by Germany and its foolish choices, is a good idea given what they have gone through to defend their country all by themselves as Europe generally stood on the sidelines. Will this be the prize for defeating the mighty Russian military machine, or another finger trap to find themselves stuck in as great powers to the west of them tug away for influence?

Such are the issues that are expected to come further to the fore in the weeks ahead if all goes well and Ukraine really does manage to win its war against Russia's unprovoked and outrageous attack.

Image:  Screen shot from BBC video, posted on Twitter

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