Forced by Kiev’s neo-Nazis and their mass murder of Donbas residents, Moscow’s special operation to denazify and demilitarize Ukraine has been going on for a month. Many people in the world hope that this absolutely avoidable conflict will end soon. However, the US and NATO, which initiated this confrontation between the Slavic nations in order to wear Russia down, and which hold the key to resolving the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, have taken no real steps to bring a diplomatic end to the fighting. Instead, they continue to escalate contradictions and confrontations, obstructing negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.
The Biden administration, which is trying to exploit this conflict for its own selfish purposes, is intensifying its sanctions policy, not only against Russia, but also against countries cooperating with it. As a result of this policy, the situation for Europeans, and indeed for the US itself, worsens every day; many sectors of the European economy suffer because of the sanctions; thousands of businesses and EU citizens go bankrupt.
The British government has warned that sanctions against Russia of “unprecedented scale and scope” will not go “cost free” for the British economy itself, The Independent notes. As Britain’s Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) notes, just two weeks after the start of the Russian special operation, oil and gas prices have peaked, rising by 200% – “well above historical averages”. And their rise will worsen in April, Sky News reports, informing the kingdom’s cost-of-living crisis amid a tightening of sanctions policies imposed by Biden.
British political observer Anthony Webber has called on Europe to recognize the fallacy of sanctions against Russia. “The fact is that when countries, particularly Britain, started imposing sanctions against Russia, the authorities did not even think about the consequences of such sanctions on their economy,” the expert said in a conversation with RT television channel. The restrictions, Webber noted, have resulted in mass protests in Europe. The consequence of this situation will be an increase in pressure on the authorities of Western countries. It is now important for Europe to completely change its policy and realize that states that impose sanctions against Russia end up “imposing sanctions against themselves”, the expert concluded.
“We are already paying the price,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told CNN on March 25. Europe’s price for these sanctions, he said, is exorbitant increases in energy prices and inflation. The crisis in Greece is gaining momentum. According to NTD, electricity prices continue to rise, refueling is becoming more difficult, and food prices have already risen by 40%.
In Spain, taxi drivers and truckers have been vigorously complaining about rising gasoline prices for weeks. Spain also fears billions in losses from Russian tourists, who have already cut visits to the country to a minimum due to the Biden administration’s sanctions policy, and indeed to almost all of Europe. Because of the protest by truck drivers, food shortages are expected in the country and this has already led to panic shopping in supermarkets. The Spanish government has failed to reach an agreement to end drivers’ strikes, and the strikes themselves threaten to turn into active anti-government demonstrations by the country’s entire population.
Against this backdrop, the people of France, in particular the construction industry, are also suffering. Food prices will rise again in France in the near future, France 3 reports, and the purchasing power of the French will continue to decline, which will lead to a further increase in inflation in the country. Soaring gas and gasoline prices are affecting the cost of goods produced in France, leading to widespread poverty and protests.
As a result of Europe’s sanctions policy, the people of Germany are also suffering greatly, as they sweep in panic the remaining sugar, oil and cereals off the shelves. Prices of some goods increased by up to 41%, the international news channel CGTN reported. Following Germany, all EU economies will collapse, the European Union faces the most dangerous consequences, which risk turning into a reverse effect of its own sanctions measures against Russia. This statement was made by German economist Aika Hamer, who said that the economic war unleashed by the collective West against Moscow would not do Brussels any good.
Speaking at the White House on February 22 about the situation around Ukraine, President Joe Biden acknowledged that sanctions against Russia would also hit the United States. Joe Biden could stop the fighting in Ukraine “with a snap of his fingers”, but he doesn’t, Fox News host Tucker Carlson believes. The channel’s guest on March 23, US Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green, emphasizes that the result of prolonged conflict will be food shortages and world hunger, yet US authorities continue to “beat the drums of war”.
President Joe Biden travelled to Europe on March 23 to attend NATO and G7 summits and a European Council meeting, where he sought to coordinate the next phase of military assistance to Kiev with allies, as well as to announce new sanctions against Moscow. However, this trip has shown that significant disagreements between the US and Europe are worsening. Washington is interested in delaying Russian-Ukrainian negotiations, while Europe, for its part, wants security and stability. There are voices in the region opposed to military action, including disapproval of US arms deliveries to Ukraine. More and more Europeans are realizing that Kiev’s “blind supply” of weapons is leading the country in a direction opposite to the region’s security objectives. “In addition, the result of long-term, harsh sanctions will be that the US will get rich, Europe will pay, and Ukraine will suffer. Washington can’t hide these petty plans,” the Global Times wrote. Washington has always been good at putting on a show: spreading its hegemony under the banner of “democracy”, profiting from war in the name of “peace”. But that does not mean that this approach will never become obsolete. “Over time, people will become increasingly clear about what and who is behind it. The development of the Russia-Ukraine conflict will ultimately demonstrate once again Washington’s typical “warmongering” nature,” the Global Times believes.
As Foreign Affairs highlights, Washington’s unprecedented campaign to isolate Russia’s economy, which has a large hydrocarbon sector, advanced military-industrial complex and diversified raw material exports, has resulted in significant problems for the West itself. Biden’s anti-Russian sanctions, as many predicted, proved to be a double-edged sword. At least that is what the statistics for Western countries show. Many of them had not had time to recover from the effects of the acute phase of the coronavirus pandemic by the start of the Russian special operation in Ukraine, and in these circumstances, the restrictions imposed and Moscow’s response have only added to the problems. While Washington searches for a replacement for Russian hydrocarbons in Europe (and not just energy supplies, but also EU trade and transport links ultimately depend on them), ordinary Europeans are already feeling the economic loss. The side effects have already caused confusion on international raw materials markets. When only the second package of Western sanctions was introduced on February 26, cutting off Russian banks from SWIFT and freezing Central Bank reserves, there was a general panic among traders, with oil, gas, wheat, copper, nickel, aluminum, fertilizer and gold prices skyrocketing. Ukrainian ports have closed because of the military conflict and foreign firms have turned away from Russian raw materials exports, and the world economy is now facing grain and metal shortages, general chaos and crisis.
Today there’s a rapidly diminishing number of people in the West who share a burning desire to carry on an economic war against Moscow. This is indicated by the drop in the ratings of the European and US ruling elites, as ordinary Americans and Europeans begin to feel the strain of the anti-Russian punitive measures. For example, the increase in the cost of gasoline in the US alone has hit both Joe Biden’s approval ratings and those of governors associated with the ruling Democratic Party and other politicians. Between February and March, confidence in the US president fell by four points, from 44% to 40%, while the anti-rating rose from 51% to 54%. These are the findings of a survey conducted by Ipsos a few days ago.
There is also a growing distrust of the ruling politicians in Western Europe. In Germany in particular, the deteriorating attitude towards Chancellor Olaf Scholz was a consequence of rising gas prices, which were felt by the majority of the population. The fall in Scholz’s rating was already recorded at the beginning of February, from 60% in January to February’s 43%, and was paralleled by a rise in gas prices on the stock exchanges. In France, where sanctions have caused problems for farmers supplying fertilizers from Russia, the ratings of the ruling elite, who have decided to engage in economic warfare with the Russians, are also falling. For example, Emmanuel Macron’s personal rating had fallen to 39% by the end of March.
In general, the plummeting ratings of leading EU politicians are caused by Europeans concerned not only about rising energy prices due to Biden’s sanctions, but also about the threat of food shortages on shop shelves and the general high cost and start of recession in the wake of the sanctions war. Under these conditions, despite active attempts by American and European politicians to turn public opinion in their countries against Moscow, they fail; only the ruling elite, journalists and some cultural figures remain Russophobic, trying to demonstrate their subservience to Biden. On the European grassroots side, the number of those prepared to wage an economic duel with the Russians at their own peril is decreasing, whereas, in contrast, there is growing awareness of Biden’s aggressive policies towards them and of the need for political change in Europe and the United States.
Vladimir Platov, expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.