Split On Russian Sanctions: EU In a Jam

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After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the US and its Western allies launched sanctions against it. These sanctions have risen and become tougher every week since the invasion. EU citizens are being asked to make significant sacrifices to support a sanctions system against Russia. The question then becomes how long Westerners will be willing to give up personal comforts in the name of sanctions.

In a month, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has changed the lives of thousands of people. Before the invasion, the Germans were celebrating a pipeline project with Russia. The champagne had been chilled in preparation for an expected ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nord Stream 2, a proposed 1,234-kilometre pipeline connecting Russia and Germany that would have kept Europe warm and cosy for decades if completed. As calls for decoupling from Russian energy sources grow louder, EU authorities are recommending their citizens reduce their time in the shower and invest in wool jumpers instead.

Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s Competition Commissioner, said that “There are two things you can do. When you turn off the water, you tell Putin, “Take that, Putin,” and you take control of your own and your teenagers’ showers. “

Peter Hauck, the chief of the agricultural department of the German state of Baden-Württemberg, said that “We have to shut down Putin’s money valve,” Hauk said vehemently. This means that we must likewise turn off the gas and oil faucets for freedom in Europe to have a chance. In winter, you can survive temperatures as low as 15 degrees [Celsius] if you wear a sweater. ” Because of this, wool prices have also risen in Europe. However, it takes an incredible leap of logic to conclude that “turning off the gas and oil” has anything to do with preserving “freedom in Europe.” It also seems like a fitting inscription for a political career’s gravestone, which, at this pace, may have to be chiselled sooner rather than later. 

It is difficult for the Western cancel cult to realise that Russian gas and oil comprise a vast river that runs in a variety of directions, not simply in one. While Moscow is not in any rush to lose its European customers, as seen by its track record of never leaving Europe without energy, even during the darkest days of the Cold War, the Russian government has alternatives. 

The European Union, on the other hand, does not, at least not at this point in its development.

As Martin Brudermuller, the CEO of BASF SE, the world’s largest chemical manufacturer, broke this hard reality to his compatriots as gently as he could by conceding that “Russian gas supplies have, to date, been the foundation of our industry’s competitiveness.” Furthermore, if Europe imports liquefied natural gas from the United States (a luxury item that Washington has been pressuring Europeans to buy almost as aggressively as it has been pressuring them to buy exorbitant weapons systems), this will result in a “challenge for the competitiveness of German and European industry,” according to Brudermuller, who added that liquefied natural gas is “practically a luxury item.”

 To put it another way, the interruption of Russian energy supplies might spell doom for the European economy and the estimated 440 million Europeans whose well-being, or at the very least their level of life, depends on these resources. But it appears to have had little effect on Brussels’ decision to escalate its anti-Russian rhetoric even more.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen revealed that the EU is seeking to restrict coal imports from Russia as well as the entry of most Russian trucks and ships, ratcheting up the ante on sanctions. But within Europe, there seem to be cracks in implementing these sanctions. One brutal winter on the continent without Russian gas and oil would spell disaster for millions of people; one year without a decent grain harvest could mean starvation, and one business quarter without enough energy supplies to meet demand could spell the end of the world economy as we know it for the first time in human history.

That Russia supplies over half of the EU’s coal requirements, which is used to fuel its power plants, which give crucial electricity to millions of power-dependent individuals, is surely not a surprise to Von der Leyen. It is alleged that Russian soldiers committed crimes in the Ukrainian village of Bucha, which is the basis for these currently proposed sanctions, which have not been confirmed.

Moscow has categorically refuted the negative allegations, claiming instead that the Ukrainian government staged a false flag operation in order to blame Russian military personnel. Given the seriousness of the allegations and the potentially catastrophic implications that may result, the EU and the United States should be pressing for a thorough investigation before assigning responsibility to any party. Instead, Russia has been rapidly found guilty of a crime without the benefit of a trial for the second time in recent history.

Clearly, we are talking about a fast-worsening political scenario that has the potential to have long-reaching effects that go far beyond being obliged to wear an additional sweater during the winter months.

If ties between Russia and the West deteriorate anymore, it could result in very serious life and death repercussions for people. The West has to know that rejecting and cancelling Russia will not keep a house warm in the winter or food on the table if they are virtue-signalling their way through it.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, the Biden administration appears to be similarly eager to put food and energy security at risk by sticking to its anti-Russian positions. It is going to be real, “Vice President Joe Biden declared last month at a speech in Brussels on impending food shortages, notably wheat, which is largely sourced from Russian farms. ” Not only is Russia paying the price for the sanctions, but the United States is as well. It is being forced on a large number of countries as well, including European countries and our own country.

What is important to understand in this context is that global supply networks had already frayed long before the events in Ukraine became the focal point of attention. American shoppers were surprised to discover emptying store shelves at the same time that hundreds of cargo ships remained chained off at the US coast because of the Biden administration’s major mismanagement of the COVID epidemic, which resulted in harsh restrictions on everything with a pulse.

The misuse of Washington’s energy supply is no less perplexing. Last month, Vice President Joe Biden signed an executive order prohibiting the importation of Russian oil, liquefied natural gas, and coal into the United States, among other things.

One would naturally expect that authorities in Washington had some sort of backup plan in place, such as reopening the Keystone XL pipeline, which was Donald Trump’s idea and would have more than compensated for the lack of Russian supply in the first place. But that did not happen. It was stated in the Wall Street Journal that officials in the Biden administration are looking into methods to increase oil imports from Canada “but there’s a significant limitation.” The Washington Post writes that “[t]hey don’t want to see the Keystone XL project resurrected, which President Biden essentially destroyed on his first day in office.”

As Brussels and Washington continue to engage in a game of sanctions chicken with Russia, in which the winner is the one who blinks first, one has to wonder how long Western consumers will be willing to put up with the compromises they have already been forced to make. 

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, was not blind to the West’s determination to inflict agony on its own people through a sanctions regime so cruel that it threatens globalism. Essentially, it is populism in reverse—people are being exhorted to eat less, wear warmer clothes to save on heating, and forego travel—all in the name of “abstract North Atlantic togetherness.” Putin warned that such “solidarity” could “threaten the global economy into a catastrophe,” perhaps leading some of the world’s poorest countries to starve to death. The question is, who is to blame? 

That is a question that many Westerners may be asking their governments in the not-too-distant future if they find themselves unexpectedly hungry after decades of consumer excess and luxury. The only difference is that this time, people may be far less ready to accept the tired narrative that the “usual suspect” of Russia is to blame for their suffering.

Split On Russian Sanctions: EU In a Jam

About Aimen Bukhari 2 Articles
The author works at The Truth International Magazine and is pursuing her Masters from the Centre for International Peace and Stability (CIPS) at NUST, Islamabad.

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