September 20, 2022
As the war in Ukraine grinds on, the US-led West is discovering that defeating Russia was easier said than done. The West is now realising that: the war will drag on for longer than foreseen; the US and Europe cannot keep boosting President Volodymyr Zelensky’s regime with a steady flow of readily usable weapons; Russia, far from being beaten by sanctions, has reaped economic gains in the process; and, above all, weaponising resources is a game that both sides can play.
To take the last point first, OPEC+ which has discussed an output cut to prop up oil prices, has proved that it is no pushover. Petroleum prices have acquired a new urgency in the wake of Russia’s decision last week to shut down the Nordstream gas pipeline to Germany. Moscow said that this is being done to carry out repairs although it is, doubtless, a move to hit back at the G7 bloc that wants to impose a price cap on Russian oil imports. Thus, the G7 may not succeed in reducing Russia’s oil revenues.
Instead, Russia escalating the face-off over gas and oil exports will worsen winter shortages in Europe, thereby forcing the Continent to import fuel at much higher prices and still ration it.
Europe has accused Russia of weaponising energy supplies. The accusation cannot but draw attention to the US and Europe weaponising not only foreign exchange reserves and assets of Russia and other countries such as Afghanistan but also subverting the international banking system SWIFT to serve their military objectives.
The other truths are brought home by none less than US President Joe Biden, who led the West into this proxy war against Russia in the name of Ukraine’s independence. Speaking on Ukraine’s Independence Day, Biden did not mention Zelensky or his military campaign against Russia. He held out no promise of any support to Ukraine’s war effort. The recently announced arms worth $2.98 billion were for Ukraine to “continue to defend itself over the long term”.
As Washington distances itself from Kyiv, support for Ukraine is also drying up in Europe, particularly in Germany, France and Italy. These countries, including a refugee-weary Poland, are no longer keen to send weapons to Ukraine or continue the war against Russia. The anti-war protests in Germany underscore the extent of public and intra-party pressure that Chancellor Olaf Scholz is facing.
Ukraine is losing support outside the West, too, with less than a third of the UN’s 193 members willing to back any resolution condemning Russia.
The tide of world opinion is turning against Ukraine and its US-led patrons.
(Disclaimer: The views of the writer do not represent the views of WION or ZMCL. Nor does WION or ZMCL endorse the views of the writer.)
About the author
Shastri Ramachandaran, New Delhi, is a TFF Associate and editorial Consultant for WION and a very prolific political and foreign affairs commentator.
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