An Italian assessment of the year of sanctions


The budget failure of the US-imposed conflict between Europe and Russia

Salvo Ardizzone

Il Faro sul Mondo, June 14, 2015

June 23, 2015

Translated from Italian by Tom Winter

Comment: It is worthwhile to see what Europeans know about the costs of their puppet strings!

Obama has manipulated the Ukraine crisis to put Putin in a corner — now there is a well-covered story; to do it he needed the countries of Europe to follow him down a road opposed to their own interests, and thanks to the total submission of some and to the obtuse revanchism of others (e.g. the Baltics, Poland), that has succeeded. But at the distance of a year, what is the verdict?

Well, it’s true: Moscow had aligned its national system toward Europe, a logical consequence of the fact of their being two naturally complementary areas. However the financial attack maneuvered by Washington and the drop in oil prices owing to maneuvers by Riyadh were two rather harsh blows at the Russian economy, which found itself in some difficulty, but how do things stand now? The financial shenanigans that depressed the ruble have in great part run their course, also, thanks to the support of the powerful Chinese Central Bank, the ruble arrested its downward course over time and is slowly but surely climbing back. 

The fall in the price of oil and gas bit Moscow to the quick, but there were two surprising results: on the one hand, the Russian economy has had a whiplash that caused her to focus on the production of goods and services, moving away from the vulnerable petro state model, dependent on the sale of energy; on the other hand, the collapse of oil prices put the US shale oil market in crisis, starting the bursting of an industry that had become a bubble out of control, and that has now resulted in the unexpected braking of the US economy (- 0.7% in Q1 2015).

But there is much more: Moscow, seeing the European door closing, turned East, to China. Much has been said about the energy agreements of May 2014 (centered on the supply of 38 billion cubic meters of gas per year for thirty years) between the two countries whose strategic interests have not always jibed; but Beijing has done its calculations of convenience, as always. China may have seen that Moscow was in a weakened condition, but instead of going for the jugular, and while fully realizing its own interests, thought that, together, they could redraw the balances and the geostrategic influence of Asia — excluding Washington — and so they did.

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With the full support of Putin, China has given impetus to the immense infrastructure project of the “Silk Road”; It kicked off the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) — a financial structure destined to supplant the IMF, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank, tools in the hands of the US — and it even drew in traditional allies of Washington such as England and Germany. 

Furthermore the imperialism in the China Sea — with the construction of fortified artificial islands to control key trade routes and affirm dominion, despite the claims of the other coastal countries and the warnings of the US — is an obvious consequence.

Finally, China has signed a new giant contract for the supply of additional 30 billion cubic meters of gas per year with Moscow, and here begin the pains for Europeans … because Moscow, with the Asian markets opened, will gradually shed any “need” to supply Europe, but Europeans do not know where else to acquire their gas.

Further, for them, in their current climate of massive investments, agreements, partnerships, it almost goes without saying, it will be China that signs them as the two countries together reshape the geopolitics of Asia (and elsewhere) in defiance of the US, the while Europe stands looking on.

Washington, for its part, does not intend to change its policy of interfering; the proof is that behind the bloody events in Macedonia there is the shadow of yet another Stars and Stripes destabilization-operation, which aims to unseat the current government that favors the passage of Turkish (Greek) Stream, which is intended to replace the South Stream (South Stream, you will recall, was killed by Brussels-mandated US, with huge loss to European companies that would have been building and managing it). And still, it is continually Washington behind the kindling of clashes in Donbass (thanks to systematic provocations of Kiev, mandated by the US), right on the eve of the next G7 meeting, that is going to, in Obama’s wishes, renew and aggravate the sanctions against Moscow. 

And the European countries? They suffer as always, exhibiting an allegiance that cuts them off from every choice that affects them, condemning them to total irrelevance and putting up with very high costs. The one timid voice that has risen, is that of the German Minister of Foreign Affairs Steinmeier who, in a meeting preliminary to the G7, said that they should try to re-admit Moscow to the meetings, returning to the G8, in order to overcome the sanctions. 

Still too little for those who suffer a cynical and unfounded servitude, and that does not change anything in the budget disaster of having yielded to the US as usual.

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