Signs that Anti-Russian Sanctions Will Backfire
Only 48 Countries Out of 193 Participate in Sanctions Against Russia
in Central African Republic, March 6, 2022.
Only 48 countries are participating in the U.S.-imposed sanctions against Russia. "Most of the countries are in Europe and North America, with six of their closest partners in the Asian-Pacific region. That does not even amount to a fourth of the total 193 members of the United Nations," germanforeignpolicy.com points out. Three-quarters of all UN member states are refusing to comply, despite the considerable pressure exerted on them. India is increasing its purchase of Russian oil and is continuing to develop a payment system independent of the U.S. dollar and SWIFT (a global provider of secure financial messages and instructions used by banks and major financiers). The volume of this year's import by India is already at 13 million barrels -- almost as much as throughout all of 2021 (16 million barrels). It is also seeking to expand the import of Russian coking coal for steel production and is purchasing huge quantities of Russian sunflower oil, which has become scarce in Western Europe due to the sanctions.
On April 11, "2 plus 2 talks" between India and the U.S. are scheduled. It is a regular meeting between the two countries' foreign and defence ministers. Pundits say the U.S. wants to use these talks to try to drive a wedge between New Delhi and Moscow. "In the run-up to the talks, a flock of western government representatives are visiting India to systematically increase the pressure," germanforeignpolicy.com writes. Victoria Nuland, Under-Secretary of State for the U.S. State Department, visited the Indian capital for talks. On March 30 President Joe Biden's Deputy National Security Advisor Daleep Singh arrived. He is a main architect of the sanctions against Russia. The report adds, "Within the framework of the traffic of western visitors that is beginning to take on aspects of stalking, Jens Plötner, foreign policy advisor to (German) Chancellor Olaf Scholz also appeared in New Delhi on March 30. On March 31, on the one hand, Britain's Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Liz Truss, and on the other hand, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in the Indian capital for talks." The report continues:
"In the meantime, the mounting pressure from the West has begun to provoke unexpected reactions on the part of New Delhi. On March 22, the Indian ambassador to Moscow participated in a meeting with his counterparts from Brazil, China, and South Africa with Russia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov – an indication that the BRICS format [of these five countries] has not been abandoned, in spite of either Russia's intervention in Ukraine or the acute tension between India and China. Western observers have meticulously noted that, so far, none of the BRICS states have made statements of public condemnation of Russia's intervention. On March 25, China's Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi made a surprise visit to his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in New Delhi. Wang's first visit since the escalation of the Indian-Chinese border dispute in May 2020 was overshadowed by that conflict, but not restricted to it. Importance was given to a discussion on the war in Ukraine and the West's sanctions campaign against Russia. Similar to India, China is also under pressure from the West, however, with the difference that the West, so far, has sought to avoid damaging its relations to New Delhi, because India is needed for their power struggle against Beijing."
Russia is also acting to develop a financial architecture independent of the U.S. dollar. Part of this is its demand that all gas and oil purchases now be made in rubles. Russia is to establish bank accounts, in Russia, for countries purchasing gas and oil, so that they can purchase rubles. Even though the G7 claimed on March 28 that they would not support Russia's demand to be paid in rubles, the Europeans expressed their concerns. France, for example called for "those who can" to conserve energy, including electricity and gas, focusing especially on businesses and public facilities. Italy had already issued a "pre-alert of the risks" to its natural gas supply days after the Ukraine conflict broke out.
Germany's Economy Minister and Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck triggered an "early warning" system March 30, the first of three levels of response that establishes a crisis team to step up monitoring of the gas supply. Germany imports about 55 percent of its gas from Russia, 33 percent of oil and 45 percent of coal, and currently has reserves of only about 25 percent of capacity.
Habeck said Germany is prepared for a sudden stop in Russian gas supplies but warned of "considerable impacts" and urged consumers to help prevent a shortage by reducing their use, claiming "every kilowatt of energy saved helps." The second warning level would require companies in the gas industry to take necessary measures to regulate supply. The third means full state intervention to ensure that those who most need gas -- such as hospitals and private households -- receive it, Habeck said.
Private oligopolies may or may not go along. U.S. oil and gas oligopolies Halliburton and Koch, for example, have not left Russia as demanded by the U.S. government. As well, whether Germany sticks with not securing more oil and gas by paying in rubles or will do so to avoid these "considerable impacts," -- including broader resistance among the people -- cannot be predicted by the U.S. or NATO. What is evident is that Russia can secure other areas for export and still has other tactics to pursue, such as limiting supplies.
Also, in a thoroughly callous manner, in meetings with NATO Biden spoke of food shortages without concern for what it means for working people: "With regard to food shortages, yes we did talk about food shortages and it's going to be real. The price of these sanctions is not just imposed upon Russia. It's imposed upon an awful lot of countries as well, including European countries and our country as well. And because both Russia and Ukraine have been the breadbasket of Europe in terms of wheat for example."
In this regard, Cargill is one of the major food oligopolies that has not left Russia and, like the war oligopolies, is benefitting from the current conflict. Profits for energy and food oligopolies are already soaring, while people bear the burden of escalating prices for food, gas and other goods.
This article was published in
Volume 52 Number 4 - April 3, 2022
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