March 09, 2022 — Moon of Alabama
For years the U.S. committed policies that have left a lot of countries grumbling. Now, as the U.S. needs support to milden the consequences of ‘punishing’ Russia, those policies come back to bite. So will the secondary effects of sanctions the ‘west’ has imposed on Russia.
Today one report calls news of US controlled bio-weapon laboratories in Ukraine a ‘debunked conspiracy’ while other news says that Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland tells Senators that she is very concerned that ‘research materials’ from these laboratories could fall into Russian hands. If the ‘research material’ is not weapon grade why is she concerned about it?
That does not fit well with the ongoing anti-Russian propaganda campaign.
Nor do these maps.
The first shows the countries which banned Russian airplanes from their airspace. Russia in turn denied its airspace to operators from those countries. It will cost quite a bit for U.S. and EU airlines as their flight times and cost to and from Asia, which typically fly through Russian airspace, will now increase. Carriers from Asian countries will now easily out-compete U.S. and European airlines on these routes.
The second map shows those countries which enacted sanctions against Russia. The secondary effects of sanctions are likely to hurt these countries as much as they hurt Russia. The absence of African, Asian, Middle Eastern, Central and South American countries is quite telling.
It does not look like ‘the world’ or the ‘international community’ is backing the ‘west’.
The U.S. also sanctioned all imports of oil products from Russia. President Biden has blamed Russia for the price increase that will inevitably follow. I don’t believe that mid-term voters will accept that reasoning. European countries can not follow that step as their economies depend of imports of oil and gas from Russia and will continue to do so for years to come.
In a move that must have been quite humiliating for the White House the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the UAE declined to take calls from the U.S. president. They want the U.S. to designate the Houthi movement in Yemen, which they have been unsuccessful to suppress, a terrorist group:
One hopes that the Biden administration does not fall for these disgusting bribery schemes but he has backed himself into a corner, cutting off Russian oil to punish Putin for a humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, with no alternative but to horsetrade with autocrats over the fate of Yemenis a half a world away. If this is geopolitics, heaven forgive us.
I don’t think that the above is the only request the Saudis and UAE leaders will have. They are now in a situation in which they can demand ever more.
Likewise humiliating is the administration’s opening of talks with Venezuela which it had sanctioned all around in its attempt to regime change the country. Caracas has released two U.S. nationals from prison. It is willing to talk. But before providing oil to the U.S. market it will demand the lifting of all sanctions and the return of all its assets the U.S. and UK have confiscated. Biden will have difficulties to find a Congress majority in support of such steps.
The return of the nuclear deal with Iran, which would enable more oil output, hangs in balance as Russia demands sanction exemptions for its trade with Iran.
The U.S. had attempted to press Poland to deliver its old Mig-29 fighter jets to the Ukraine. In Russia’s eyes that would have been a direct Polish aggression against it. Warsaw found a smart way to avoid that. It offered to deliver the jets to a U.S. airbase in Germany. The tar baby would thereby stick to the U.S. itself. The Pentagon declined to accept that. The jet transfer is now most likely dead.
The U.S. and Europe are only starting to feel the secondary consequences of the all out economic war they hastily initiated against Russia. The war will cause recessions not only in Russia but also all over the ‘west’. This while Russia has yet to announce its counter sanctions. There are many steps Russia could take to hurt the ‘west’ by withholding this or that resource. It is likely to start slowly to then increase the pressure step by step.
It seems that there was given no thought at all about the secondary effects the ‘western’ sanctions would have.
Meanwhile the Russian intervention in the Ukraine continues at a moderate pace. Russia is not in a hurry as Zelensky is making noise about ‘compromises’:
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky won’t accept Russia’s demands for ending the war unconditionally, but he’s open to trying to find a compromise that could include not pursuing NATO membership.
Along with “cooling down” to the idea of joining NATO, Zelensky told ABC News that there’s room for negotiating on the occupied territories and unrecognized republics.
Russia responded in kind:
Moscow is not aiming to overthrow the current leadership in Ukraine, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, amid the ongoing military campaign in the neighboring state.
“Its objectives don’t include occupation of Ukraine, destruction of its statehood, or the toppling of the current government. It’s not directed against the civilian population,” Zakharova told reporters at a regular press conference on Wednesday.
The spokeswoman reiterated that Moscow wants to defend the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, which broke away from Ukraine shortly after the 2014 coup in Kiev. She added that Russia seeks the “demilitarization and denazification” of Ukraine.
It will be interesting to see if the U.S. allows Zelensky to go further down that path. The secondary effects the sanctions will have for the ‘west’ are likely to eventually lead to that.