Pioneer Briefing US Edition

Ukraine: The Failure of the West


Good Morning,

The Russian and Ukrainian soldiers remain in their trenches along the 1,000-kilometer-long front. They are still trembling, hoping and dying on both sides of the battlefield.

But there's good news, at least for Putin: there are signs that the West is conceding defeat in the war and will soon try to cut a deal with the Russian leader. Six indicators suggest that Putin will be the rising star of 2024:

Eine Infografik mit dem Titel: Ukraine: The Stalemate War

The situation in Ukraine as of March 7, 2024

1. Ukraine: Exhausted and Depleted

Volodymyr Selensky © dpa

The invaded nation is on its knees. Russia has annexed 18 percent of Ukrainian territory, displacing 3.7 million internally and 6.4 million externally, with significant numbers seeking refuge in neighboring countries. 950,000 went to Poland, and more than a million to the Federal Republic of Germany.

The conflict's cost to Western backers is a staggering 252 billion euros, five times the annual budget of the German Armed Forces. Ukraine's military efforts are now heavily dependent on foreign aid, resulting in a significant loss of sovereignty even without a clear military defeat.

2. Russia: Resilient Amidst Isolation

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping © imago

Despite Western sanctions, Russia remains economically robust three years after the invasion of Ukraine. The initial impact of sanctions has been offset by rerouting supply chains and establishing a wartime economy, proving that it is challenging to debilitate the world's largest resource powerhouse.

Political and economic alliances with China, India, and Turkey point to a global shift away from Western influence, suggesting the resurgence of a non-Western power duopoly.

Eine Infografik mit dem Titel: China: Russia's Most Important Importer

The four most important importers of fossil fuels from Russia since the beginning of 2023, in billions of euros

3. America First – Ukraine Last

Joe Biden © imago

Within the U.S., there has been a shift that challenges the export of democracy. Despite Joe Biden's fiery speeches, even the Democrats have lost interest in funding overseas wars. In his State of the Union address, Biden reaffirmed his commitment to minimizing risk:

There are no American troops at war in Ukraine. I am determined to keep it that way.

Eine Infografik mit dem Titel: USA: Majority Calls for Negotiations

Poll on the topic: "Should the U.S. and Ukraine negotiate with Russia to end the war in Ukraine, even if it means that all three parties have to make some compromises?"

4. Scholz: This Far and No Further

Olaf Scholz © dpa

The Chancellor has made up his mind. Recent political maneuvers and sources in direct contact with him indicate that Olaf Scholz has mentally moved on from the Ukraine war. He is not willing to further increase Germany's financial or political risk. He is not prepared to go "all in." Sending the German Armed Forces into action is the last thing on his mind.

Opinion polls reinforce Scholz's determination to resist pressure from Green foreign minister Baerbock and parts of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leadership.

His party, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), wants to position Scholz as a chancellor of peace in the upcoming state elections in eastern Germany and the federal elections in 2025.

Eine Infografik mit dem Titel: Majority of Germans Against the Taurus Missile Delivery

Poll on the topic: "Should Germany supply Taurus to Ukraine?" in percent

5. Conservative Divide

Armin Laschet © imago

Former CDU leader Armin Laschet, now Vice President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, has emerged as a surprising opponent to his successor, Friedrich Merz. Laschet may have lost the Bundestag elections, but he has not lost his influence over Merkel's CDU. Over the weekend, he stated:

I believe that the significance of the Taurus deliveries for the course of the war has been exaggerated in the debate (...) I also find the Chancellor's basic position of acting with caution and prudence to avoid becoming a party to the war correct.

Pope Francis © dpa

The Pope supports the moderate conservatives. Pope Francis advised the prime minister in Kiev to make an orderly withdrawal. Over the weekend, he said:

I believe that the stronger person is the one who recognizes the situation and has the courage to raise the white flag.

6. Economic Opportunities in Reconstruction

A woman in front of a destroyed building in Mariupol, Ukraine © dpa

The business community is eager to normalize relations with Russia and sees significant business opportunities in reconstructing Ukraine. Investors, business leaders and entire nations are already gearing up for a project that the European Investment Bank estimates could cost a trillion dollars in private and public funds.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase © imago

Adjusted for inflation, the reconstruction of Ukraine would be five times larger than the reconstruction of Germany financed by the Marshall Plan after World War II. In Davos, Selensky had already met with Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase.

Bloomberg commented yesterday:

Investors are eyeing the biggest contract bonanza since World War II.

In conclusion, Putin finds himself in a favorable position as the aftermath of his Ukraine invasion unfolds. With new alliances and expanded territory, he sits prominently in the global arena.

His most important ally: An indecisive West whose rhetoric has never kept pace with reality.

He is the Russian bear - and the West seems to be a one trick pony.

Melody Sucharewicz © Anne Hufnagl

Melody Sucharewicz vehemently rejects criticism of the Israeli army's actions. Originally from Munich, Germany, she is a political consultant and communications expert in Israel. She served as Israel's ambassador-at-large from 2006 to 2007 and spent several years as spokesperson for the former Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz. She now advises him on a more individual basis.

We had a controversial discussion for the Pioneer Podcast, where she stated:

Allowing Hamas to continue to rule in Gaza while neglecting Rafah does not serve the people. Rather, it perpetuates the existence of Hamas and benefits the jihadists.

She believes the high number of civilian casualties is unavoidable:

This is collateral damage. Warfare is ugly, but unfortunately, there is no way to wage war in an urban, asymmetrical situation like Gaza without civilian casualties.

Click here to listen to today's episode of the Pioneer Podcast in German.

To hear our differing perspectives on this topic, tune into today's episode of the Pioneer Podcast.

  • The number of bankruptcies in Germany reached a record high in February.

  • Telegram is now the third-largest messaging app in the world.

  • McDonald's launches a French fry fragrance.

A store must close due to bankruptcy. The signs read: “We are closing” and “70 percent off everything.” © dpa

The Leibniz Institute for Economic Research highlights a worrying trend: a sharp rise in bankruptcies across the German economy.

In February, nearly 1,100 individuals and companies declared bankruptcy, the highest number since the bankruptcy trend report began in 2016. This represents an 11 percent increase in the previous month, a significant 43 percent jump in the same period last year, and a remarkable 28 percent increase in the February average from 2016 to 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eine Infografik mit dem Titel: Bankruptcies: 43% Higher than a Year Ago

Bankruptcies of German companies listed in the commercial register

Two questions, two answers. The head of insolvency research at the Leibniz Institute, Professor Dr. Steffen Müller, shed light on the reasons for this significant increase to The Pioneer:

During the pandemic, many bankruptcies were postponed and are now materializing. This is because in Germany, unlike Italy or France, much of the government support went to companies that were already in financial difficulty before the pandemic. This strategy bought time, but now these companies are facing bankruptcy.

Steffen Müller © IWH Halle

Despite the challenges posed by these insolvencies, Professor Müller highlights potential opportunities for the economy:

Business failures are undoubtedly painful, but they are an integral part of a functioning market economy. When unprofitable businesses exit the market, they free up skilled workers who are in high demand by forward-looking companies.

Telegram App © imago

Telegram has become the third-largest messaging company in the world. With 900 million monthly active users, it stands close behind Meta (2 billion on WhatsApp and 980 million on Facebook Messenger) and the Chinese app WeChat (1.3 billion).

On the verge of profitability: Telegram's large user base attracts the attention of advertisers, making the app an attractive platform. Users who prefer an ad-free experience can opt for a premium account. According to Pavel Durov, Telegram's founder, this model already generates "hundreds of millions of dollars" in revenue. The company aims to reach profitability by 2024 or 2025.

Telegram founder Pavel Durov © Instagram/durov

Acquisition interest: Durov revealed that investors value Telegram at $30 billion and significant tech funds have expressed interest in acquiring the company.

Exploring an IPO: Durov's remarks signal investor interest, potentially boosting the company's value—a step that could be lucrative in an IPO, an option Durov is contemplating. Officially, he aims to make Telegram public to democratize platform access.

Eine Infografik mit dem Titel: The Messenger Market

Most popular global mobile messenger apps in January 2024 by number of monthly active users, in millions

McDonald's French fry fragrance © X/McDonaldsJapan

McDonald's Japan recently caused quite a stir by sharing an image on platform X. The photo shows a woman spraying herself with perfume, but here's the twist: the bottle is shaped exactly like a portion of McDonald's fries, complete with the iconic red color and golden arches.

This peculiar fragrance, it turns out, comes in three scents: French Fries, Garlic Pepper Mayonnaise, and, apparently tailored for Japan, Plum Seaweed Salt. According to McDonald's Japan, these fragrances will only be available for a limited time.

Conclusion: A French fry fragrance does not generate significant income, but it does attract worldwide attention. The campaign was therefore worthwhile before even one bottle was sold.

Or, to quote Andy Warhol:

Creativity is fun that you can sell as work.

Wishing you a wonderful start to your day. Stay informed. Stay with me.

Best wishes,

Pioneer Editor, Editor in Chief, The Pioneer
  1. , Pioneer Editor, Editor in Chief, The Pioneer

Editorial Team

Eleanor Cwik, Alexia Ramos, Lukas Herrmann, Nico Giese & Louisa Thönig

With contributions from: Leonhard Dihlmann & Luisa Nuhr

Translation Team

Eleanor Cwik & Alexia Ramos

Graphics Team

Henning Schmitter (Cover Art)


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