Sam Vaknin
4 min readAug 17


Compassion Fatigue: Ukrainians Not Welcome

By: Sam Vaknin, Brussels Morning

This unsavory turn of events has been predicted long ago: compassion fatigue, the point in time when Ukrainian refugees become a burden rather than welcome guests, subject to outpourings of compassion.

The maximal geopolitical and military positions of both Russia and Ukraine preclude any diplomatic resolution of the conflict. Mind you, Ukraine is the victim here, so enforced symmetry would be immoral. Morally, Russia has to give.

But the indolent, decadent, and sated West is fatigued. The novelty wore off as did the self-congratulatory feel good grandiose factor. The whole conundrum has lost its jaded entertainment value. Time to move on to another reality TV show.

The recent events in Czechia reify this Europe-wide self-indulgent mood. A Roma man was murdered by a Ukrainian newcomer. This has been only the latest in a string of bloodied skirmishes between these two minorities.

Central Europe — from Romania to Poland — has absorbed the brunt of the influx of Ukrainians displaced by Russia’s criminal aggression. Ill-equipped to deal with such a deluge, governments relied on civil society NGOs to cater to the needs of these refugees.

In some destinations, Ukrainians have become the largest minority, supplanting long-vested interests of other groups and upsetting the apple cart.

The anti-Western fringes in many European polities are anti-Ukrainian, even pro-Russian. In a grotesque turn of events, Czechia’s virulently xenophobic and white supremacist far right is now pro-Roma, casting the long-abused and discriminated against minority as the victim of the Ukrainian influx. The enemy of my enemy and so on.

This might be a sinister divide-and-rule tactic, pitting one deprived group against another and the Roma against their erstwhile champions, the not-for-profit sector.

We are beginning to witness protests in Europe against the vast resources diverted to the conflict in Ukraine. People advocate “neutrality” (codeword for surrender to Russia’s agenda).

Many of these demonstrators parrot Kremlin nonsense propaganda on social media. Others seethe with resentment and envy at the generous aid and privileges granted to the Ukrainian influx.

These perks were never as much as imagined by the indigenous and indigent Roma who are largely non-white: shockingly, about a third of the Roma in the most deprived areas have still to gain access to clean water.

The truth is that the war in Ukraine has reverberated far afield. For example: housing was rendered unaffordable in large swathes of the continent as real estate got snatched by homeless refugees. The Ukrainians also crowded out Roma and locals from certain McJobs.

The EU provided Ukraine with 77 billion euros in aid (even more than the USA) and has pledged another 72 billion over the next 4 years. The total annual budget of the EU has never exceeded 180 billion. It is a debilitating undertaking.

Such glaring favoritism is radicalizing mainstream politics. The influence of the far right is surging even in pivotal countries such as Italy and France. Tidal waves of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers only exacerbate tensions.

Discrimination against non-whites and non-Europeans and in favor of white Europeans such as the Ukrainians is grating. Glaringly, Ukrainian Roma are treated way worse than their whiter compatriots.

The war of attrition in Ukraine is beginning to fracture the united anti-Russian front of the West. Should it linger, cracks will appear in the heterogenous societies of the European Union. Support for Ukraine is contingent, by no means an immutable geopolitical given.

Zelensky is surviving on borrowed time. In the absence of a breakthrough military offensive, Ukraine will be cajoled and then coerced by its ostensible allies to partake of diplomacy.

Ours is a changed world: trench wars are a thing of the past. Attention spans are limited. The news cycle is merciless and dysempathic. Fake news are the only news. Largesse and magnanimity are nothing more than conditional virtue signaling. Patience is running thin and tempers high.

Sooner or later, blood on a massive scale will be spilled as Ukrainian refuges all over Europe are surrounded and hounded by their economic competitors and ideological rivals.

Even if Putin were to lose power, the alternatives are predatory scumbags like Prigozhin. A civil war in Russia is in no one’s interest, not even Ukraine’s.

Life is the sum total of injustices and losses. Russia has illegally invaded a neighboring sovereign country and seized its lands. In an ideal world, these adverse outcomes should be fully reversed and Ukraine restored.

But this is a world ruled by psychopathic narcissists on both sides of the aisle. Might is again becoming right and democracy is scarcer by the day, even in the United States and Israel.

A great leader snatches victory from the jaws of defeat and mobilizes his nation to accept the ineluctable and make the best of it: lemonade from lemons.

It is time to call it a day. Russia is much weakened in some ways. This should be enough of a victory for the brave nation of Ukraine.

Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. is a former economic advisor to governments (Nigeria, Sierra Leone, North Macedonia), served as the editor in chief of “Global Politician” and as a columnist in various print and international media including “Central Europe Review” and United Press International (UPI). He taught psychology and finance in various academic institutions in several countries ( )



Sam Vaknin

Sam Vaknin ( ) is the author of Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited and a Visiting Professor of Psychology