‘A shot in the foot’, by José Antonio Bueno


Europe has long since lost the north in the Ukraine war. We are engaging halfway – to do so fully would be suicide – and the sanctions are more against us than against Russia. We buy less gas and oil, it is true, but at a much higher price than before. We have reduced, since the beginning of the invasion, the purchase of energy from Russia by 15%, but we have paid it 90% more than last year. Hip Hip Hooray. The sanctions, as they are being implemented, show that they only serve to harm the interests of European companies and citizens. Putin and his regime have not moved from their positions one millimeter. What’s more, all the fuss we’re making with the reduction of energy consumption strengthens Russia’s position, because it sees that European citizens are increasingly angry with their negligent leaders, unable to find solutions, they only put up patches. Sanctions are more likely to topple some European leader than Putin. Europe’s position in this conflict borders on the grotesque, since its actions are turning it into the weakest party, while the United States is the strongest. The Russian economy has suffered somewhat, but not too much, and the ruble has appreciated notably against the euro and the dollar. This is possible because the world no longer revolves around Europe and Russia continues to export to China, India and a large number of countries in Africa and Latin America, since the restrictions and sanctions are only applied by the United States, which has an energy surplus despite its very high consumption because it has no problem in using fracking or nuclear energy, and Europe, which with a large energy deficit does nothing but limit itself, closing coal and nuclear power plants and arguing that fracking is too aggressive with nature, as if other activities were not. Now we are fighting over the route of gas pipelines to transport gas that will come to us from Algeria, the United States or Qatar, instead of Russia. And all this to tickle Putin, because the “hardships” that the Russian population is made to go through are not, far from it, enough to make them rise up against their leaders, rather they unite them by exacerbating a nationalist sentiment which obviously exists in Russia. Mining, oil, chips, pharmaceuticals or textiles endure without major problems. Industrial production in Russia fell by only 0.5% in July, a figure that becomes positive if it is seasonally adjusted. To the question of what are sanctions for? the answer is simple, to impoverish and weaken the European Union, for nothing more. Since, fortunately, neither the European Union nor the United States want to enter the war, what we should do is force the parties to negotiate a pragmatic and reasonable peace agreement. When Russia recaptured Crimea in 2014, the world looked the other way. Crimea was handed over to the then Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954 by Khrushchev, when he was General Secretary of the CPSU, for the simple reason that he was Ukrainian. The war in Donbas did not start six months ago, but since 2014 Ukraine has been crushing pro-Russian separatists. If we understand that nothing is absolute black or white and that nuances are important, it is very possible that a peace agreement acceptable to all could be reached, making it clear to both that it is best to negotiate. If we insist on arming one side that cannot win even though it has now regained positions and sanctioning the other “a little” with a result that clearly harms the interests of European citizens, we will only succeed in prolonging the suffering of those who are at war and uselessly socialize this pain with a European Union that does nothing but weaken with each passing day, whitewashing regimes like Maduro’s or Iran in exchange for some energy. As time goes by, the European leaders will fall from their armchairs one by one, who knows if the first will be the Prime Minister of Finland, an easy target for those who want to destabilize a new NATO country. Now that the military balance seems altered and China and India have shown their “concern about the conflict”, it would be a good time to sit down with the parties and force them to negotiate. I imagine that China must be watching what happens by eating popcorn, if the Chinese like popcorn. Europe is committing suicide and the United States is afraid of an adversary much less powerful than China. The conquest of Africa and Latin America is a fact and the day China wants to take a step forward in Taiwan, Japan, Korea or wherever, it already knows how the West reacts, clumsily and self-harming. And all for having low cost leaders.

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