from the BFD:

What do Jacinda Ardern and Volodymyr Zelensky have in common? They’re both authoritarian frauds who play the legacy and social media like a fiddle, and who’ve put their countries through hell for little to no gain.

Jacinda Ardern has signalled that New Zealand’s regime of vaccine mandates and Covid passes is about to end. Zelensky has announced that the Ukraine will not seek to become part of NATO.

In other words, both are conceding the key demands of their enemies. Concessions which, if they had been delivered a month ago, would have spared their respective countries being torn apart. Granted that even the state brutality seen in Wellington pales beside a full-scale war, but for quiet, easy-going New Zealand it was a political shockwave unlike any seen in decades.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says mandates and vaccine passes are unlikely to be used as widely as before and Cabinet will review traffic light settings next week.

Ardern is borrowing directly from the Dictator Dan playbook and both are singing a truly Machiavellian tune. As happened in Victoria, Ardern unleashed the full brutality of a police state on protesters demanding nothing more than that their long-held freedoms and rights be respected. No dialogue would be entered into.

Once the protesters have been bludgeoned and pepper-sprayed, then restrictions are quietly eased, with the government pretending that it was their idea all along and definitely nothing to do with those nasty protesters.

Even though the protesters have been given much of what they asked.

The PM today said Omicron may well have already peaked in Auckland […]

Ardern said Covid-19 vaccine passes were likely to become less important soon, but might still be needed as a back-up in case a new coronavirus variant emerged.

NZ Herald

At the other end of the world, Volodymyr Zelensky has been the same darling of the media that Ardern used to be.

Like Ardern, Zelensky, a former TV celebrity, knows how to effortlessly play the media and social media like a fiddle — and they’ve lapped it up. Never mind that the photo-ops were staged months ago. Never mind, either, that this is a leader who jails opposition politicians and closes down critical media. Nor that his is a coalition regime that includes literal neo-Nazis, accused by none other than the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) accused of widespread abuses, including thousands of killings, rape, looting and torture.

The same lickspittle media is also neglecting to mention that the concession he’s making now would have likely avoided a war altogether.

For Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, to declare Ukraine cannot join NATO and he’s glad his countrymen now understand this, is surely the most significant political development we’ve seen in the Russia-Ukraine war.

As Russia’s murderous war enters its fourth week, this may be the start of a deal […]

Ukraine promises never to join NATO, and presumably NATO endorses this self-denying ordinance on Kyiv’s part, while Russia keeps control of much of eastern Ukraine, almost certainly including a full land corridor from the Donbas region down to Crimea.

It’s surely likely that Zelensky, whose magnificent defiance has inspired the world, would not have made such a conciliatory statement on NATO membership if he did not have some indication from the Russians that a deal was possible.

The Australian

In fact, the Russians said as much before the war even began.

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