The Kremlin indicated on Wednesday that all of Russia’s energy and commodity exports could be priced in roubles, toughening President Vladimir Putin’s attempt to make the West feel the pain of the sanctions it imposed for the invasion of Ukraine.
In the strongest signal yet that Russia could be preparing an even tougher response to the West’s sanctions, Russia’s top lawmaker suggested on Wednesday that almost Russia’s entire energy and commodity exports could soon be priced in roubles.
Asked about the comments by parliament speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “This is an idea that should definitely be worked on.”
Even before Russia invaded Ukraine, Western media have depicted Russian President Vladimir Putin as an irrational—perhaps mentally ill—leader who cannot be reasoned or bargained with. Such portrayals have only intensified as the Ukraine crisis came to dominate the news agenda.
The implications underlying these media debates and speculations about Putin’s psyche are immense. If one believes that Putin is a “madman,” the implication is that meaningful diplomatic negotiations with Russia are impossible, pushing military options to the forefront as the means of resolving the Ukraine situation.
If Putin is not a rational actor, the implication is that no kind of diplomacy could have prevented the Russian invasion, and therefore no other country besides Russia shares blame for ongoing violence. (See FAIR.org, 3/4/22.) Yet another implication is that if Putin’s defects made Russia’s invasion unavoidable, then regime change may be necessary to resolve the conflict.
The arc of coverage of 2020 congressional redistricting went from speculation that Republicans would end up with a massive advantage—because they controlled significantly more state legislatures—to surprise that Democrats managed to gerrymander their way to roughly the same number of seats as Republicans. This result was deemed good news, as announced for instance in this news “analysis” from the New York Times (3/10/22): “A Potential Rarity in American Politics: A Fair Congressional Map.”
The war in Ukraine has exposed the European Union’s imperialist hypocrisy in many ways, particularly when it comes to its treatment of people fleeing conflicts. From the beginning, there have been many reports of refugees from Africa and Asia being deprioritized over white refugees and experiencing racism and violence at European borders.
As the weeks go by, the refugee crisis is intensifying. Four million people have already left Ukraine, with forecasts suggesting that the number could reach 10 million.
Faced with this situation, the European Commission is making up to 17 billion euros ($19 billion) available to help member states receive refugees. The Commission has also developed a plan to evenly distribute refugees among EU countries to relieve the situation in Ukraine’s bordering countries. At over 2 million, Poland has received the most refugees since the beginning of the conflict. The plan also includes the development of a single, centralized platform for registering people crossing borders.