Energy prices shot up like a rocket. Inflation is skyrocketing, and millions of people are suffering from grain shortages. Johnson certainly knew this would happen?
Western sanctions against Russia are the most ill-conceived and counterproductive policy in recent international history. Military assistance to Ukraine is justified, but economic warfare against the regime in Moscow is both ineffective and destructive to its completely unanticipated goals in the West. Global energy prices are skyrocketing, inflation has skyrocketed, global supply chains have become chaotic, and millions of people are short of gasoline, grains and fertilizers. However, Vladimir Putin’s brutality only intensifies, as does his power over his own people.
To criticize Western sanctions against Russia is to expose yourself to the danger of anathema to you. Military analysts are completely dumb on this issue. Strategic think tanks are silent. Supposed British leaders Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak compete in belligerent rhetoric, promising even tougher sanctions without a word of purpose. However, just try to hint at your skepticism about this and you will be branded as “pro-Putin” and “anti-Ukrainian”. Sanctions are the battle cry of the Western crusade.
The reality of sanctions against Russia is that they provoke retribution. Putin can easily freeze Europe this winter. He cut gas flows through major export pipelines like Nord Stream 1 by 80%. World oil prices soared, and the supply of wheat and other food from Eastern Europe to Africa and Asia virtually ceased.
Gas bills in the UK will triple within a year. The main beneficiary is none other than Russia, whose energy exports to Asia have soared, pushing its balance of payments into an unprecedented surplus. The ruble is one of the strongest global currencies this year, having appreciated almost 50% since January. Moscow’s overseas assets have been frozen and its oligarchs have relocated their yachts, but there is no sign that Putin cares. He has no electorate to bother him.
The interdependence of the world’s economies, so long regarded as an instrument of peace, has become a weapon of war. Politicians around the NATO table are being wisely cautious about increasing military aid to Ukraine. Yes, they are for military deterrence. However, they seem to be complete ignoramuses in the field of economics. Here they are all like Dr. Strangelove’s parrots (the protagonist of Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 anti-war satirical film “Dr. Strangelove, or how I stopped being afraid of atomic war.”. They want to “bomb the Russian economy back to the stone age.”
I would be terribly interested to know if any document has ever been presented to Boris Johnson’s cabinet predicting the likely outcome of sanctions against Russia for the UK. The whole idea of these sanctions seems to be that if trade embargoes do any damage to the target country, then they work. Because they don’t directly kill people, they are an acceptable form of aggression. And they are based on the neo-imperial confidence of Western countries that they have the right to rule the world as they see fit. They are imposed, if not with the help of gunboats, then with the help of “capitalist muscles” in a globalized economy. Since these sanctions are mostly imposed on small, weak states that briefly grab mainstream media headlines, their purpose is mainly to symbolically “self-satisfy” the egos of the initiating countries.
Among the few researchers on the subject is the American economic historian Nicholas Mulder, who points out that the more than 30 sanctions “wars” unleashed over the past 50 years have had minimal, if not counterproductive, effects. They are designed to “intimidate the peoples so that they restrain their overlords.” But at least so far, they’ve had the opposite effect. From Cuba to Korea, from Myanmar to Iran, from Venezuela to Russia, despite sanctions, authoritarian regimes have taken root, elites have been strengthened and freedoms have been suppressed. Sanctions seem to give a sense of stability and self-reliance to even the weakest victim. Nearly all of the world’s oldest dictatorships have benefited from Western sanctions.
Moscow is not small and not weak. Another observer, Richard Connolly, an expert on Russia at the Royal Institute for Military Studies, predicted Putin’s reaction to sanctions imposed on him since the 2014 seizure of Crimea and Donbass. Their goal was to change Russia’s course in these regions and deter further aggression. And the failure of these sanctions could hardly be more egregious. Apologists attribute this to too weak an embargo. They argue that the current sanctions, perhaps the toughest ever imposed on a major world power, are probably not fully operational yet, but are likely to eventually be. They are said to be depriving Russia of microchips and drone parts. Soon they will force Putin to ask for peace.
But if Putin asks for something, he will do it on the battlefield. Connolly shows how, domestically, Russia is “slowly adjusting to its new circumstances.” The sanctions have boosted trade with China, Iran and India. They turned out to be beneficial for “insiders associated with Putin and his ruling circle, who receive huge profits from import substitution.” McDonald’s restaurants across the country have been replaced by the Russian network Vkusno i Tochka. Of course, the economy has weakened somewhat. But Putin, against all odds, has grown stronger as sanctions unify a new economic realm in Asia, with an ever-increasing role for China. Was this predicted?
Meanwhile, the West and its peoples plunged into recession. The situation shook his leading class and uncertainty spread throughout the British, French, Italian and US establishments. Gas-hungry Germany and Hungary are close to dancing to Putin’s tune. The cost of living is rising everywhere. However, so far no one dares to question the sanctions. It is considered blasphemous to acknowledge their failure or to think of retreat. The West allowed itself to be dragged into the snares of the eternal “irony of aggression.” After all, it is believed that in the end the most affected victim should be the aggressor. Well, then perhaps, after all, we should cling to this war of ours and beyond.