Victoria Petroff
International journalist and producer

Life is more expensive than political egoism

Milano, Lombardy, one month before COVID-19 pandemic. (Victoria Petroff)

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates a weak level of security based on protectionism within the borders of sovereign states and even geopolitical unions.  Western alliances, like the European Union, including the structures of the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation, were not prepared for a pandemic. The virus does not notice the border and has no political priorities. The states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the countries of Euro-Asian Economic Cooperation, the League of Arab States and any cross-border alliances are equally vulnerable to Western political blocs today.

You know what? This difficult period allows us to see examples of true humanism – the time based on economic protectionism, competition and the selfish populism of politicians around the mainstream world is ending, I hope. The coronavirus pandemic has become a test of the unity and strength of countries and alliances, and of people and humanity. We see that Poland and even dangerously close to economic collapse Ukraine sent their doctors to Italy. US President Donald Trump said the United States will supply medical equipment to Italy, Spain and Russia.  This is unbelievable! Will the NATO lead state send quarantined aid to Moscow to treat sick people?

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To many in the EU this seems impossible, because in the West narratives about the ‘toxicity’ and aggression of the Kremlin have been created over a very long time. Western society has come under the influence of mass propaganda. People in EU countries were convinced that Russians were not capable of altruism. In the same way, beliefs about egoism and alienation of Western society developed in eastern countries. Only COVID-19 proves that these are absolutely artificial things, stereotypes and myths of collective unions.

Admittedly, the Moscow Kremlin was the first to destroy obsolete fake narratives. Now Russian doctors and nurses have opened a field hospital in the Italian Bergamo and have been saving lives since March, but where is Western humanism? As it turned out, politicians from Brussels threw Italy and Spain alone with misfortune. All the kindness of European Christian Democrats is enough only to finance a project for the migration of people from Africa and the Middle East to a united Europe.

Of course, Europe was shocked in March to ignore the problem.  It seemed that Brussels did not notice tens of thousands of cases and thousands of dead citizens of Italy and Spain. It turned out that EU politicians are much more selfish and indifferent than the leaders of Russia, China and Cuba – countries that the West accused of lack of democracy.

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In mid-March, Italy, in the person of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conti, agreed with Vladimir Putin the mission of Russian doctors. Currently, 104 doctors and nurses are working in the north of Apennine with passports of Russian citizens.  Moscow unexpectedly turned out to be more humane than the frightened and selfish Brussels – Italy needed only to ask for help.

Just a few words: “we need your help” – and no European bureaucracy, imagine? No miracle!  Who cares what doctors have their passports and citizenship, no matter where they came from: from Moscow, Havana or Beijing? And imagine that planes with foreign doctors and equipment necessary to overcome the COVID-19 epidemic land at all international airports – this would show everyone that fighting a common problem is more important than ambition, populism and resentment.

At the end of March, Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump agreed on the conditions for Russia to provide US assistance in connection with the coronavirus.  Literally instantly, Moscow sent a plane with medical equipment to America. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, half of its cost was paid by the Russian Direct Investment Fund.  In turn, the United States promises to deliver humanitarian medical aid to Russia, Italy, France and other EU countries – as mechanical ventilation devices.

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How do we regard all this? Only positive. I am sure that this is not the time to search for conspiracy theories and I am convinced that there are no spyware and strains of new viruses on medical equipment, masks, rapid tests and foreign doctors fighting the virus threat. This is just help, and absolutely nothing more.

Not all European Union politicians have understood that the previous priority doctrines and challenges for the EU countries are melting like mirages in the conditions of the social and economic disaster that our world is plunging into COVID-19 now.

The lives of thousands or millions of people in the world today are worth more than the artificial system of global competition and the directives of old politicians, which, as it turned out, can fall apart like a house of cards due to a deadly virus. In conditions of general chaos and increased risks of social and humanitarian catastrophe, the European Union was not left alone, as shown by the actions of Russia, China and Cuba in March.  Life is above politics, and in the conditions of today’s new reality, and this should be considered a united Europe.

The outdated reality in which European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen declared green technology and European mobility a priority for the next long-term fiscal planning period of the EU has completely changed in just a month and a half – like the plans we all built for the summer or summer  year in advance.  On the EU road-map, thousands of Europeans’ deaths from coronavirus turned out to be force majeure, which politicians in Brussels are unable to overcome on their own.

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Only international collaboration – the world will never be the same. The leadership and population of Italy highly appreciate the help from the ‘third world’: the Russians were the first to rush into the hotbed of a pandemic and are still leading in the search for a solution to the global problem.

Paradox – Europeans received first support from states that Western propaganda has called authoritarian over the years.  However, old stamps and fears in the style of the Cold War should be abandoned at least now. The threat of the virus is more than significant, the old risks and challenges turn into a Fata Morgana when NATO countries need and accept humanitarian aid from Russians, Chinese and Cubans.

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This is normal,  wonderful! Global competition and confrontation at the level of cross-border alliances must be a thing of the past. Thanks to the Russian doctors from Bergamo.

About the Author
Victoria Petroff (Petrova) was born in Moscow, Russia on 27 May 1988 in the diplomatic family. At the age of two, Victoria's family relocated to Czechoslovakia, where she spent her early childhood. She graduated from the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv with a Master of Arts in International Journalism. After receiving her education, she studied business-course in London (London City University) and had an internship in the U.S. Embassy. Victoria has over 15 years of experience in the field of media. She worked in different federal (NTV Channel, Channel One Russia, Channel Russia 2) and international media. Her common documentary projects with NBC Sport (USA) were nominated for Emmy Awards. Victoria’s field of work - social and historical topics. In 2015 she joined a film industry. She working in Moscow and in London (UK). The main idea of her projects - to create cultural and social connections between different countries. She wants to tell about historical lessons, which will help to not make mistakes from the past.
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