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 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.
The tactic of the punitive Nazi battalions which are suffering defeat in the clash with the DPR and LPR troops is very clear. It is the same “scorched land” tactic as that used by the Nazi occupiers as they were driven by the Red Army out of the territory of the USSR, including Ukraine. The Germans blew up the Dneproges Power Plant, destroyed hundreds of factories, mines and bridges and burned tens of thousands of Ukrainian homes.
As the Russia-Ukraine conflict continues to unfold, casualties keep rising and its economic impact has been devastating, stock prices of major American arms companies on the other side of the world have surged.
Experts believe that the ongoing conflict will bring huge revenues to U.S. arms manufacturers, and the military-industrial complex will profit from the crisis in the long run, with continued lobbying for a more confrontational approach and higher defense spending.
U.S. defense firms are the indisputable top producers of the world’s weapons. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the world’s top five arms companies have all been American since 2018, and the United States accounted for 39 percent of global military expenditure in 2020.
THE juggling which US imperialism has to do to maintain its hegemony becomes more bizarre by the day. First, it kept needling Russia (“provoking the bear”) “on behalf of the western alliance” by expanding NATO to its very borders, knowing full well that Ukraine’s joining NATO would be totally unacceptable to Russia. Its objective was to prevent Russia and western Europe from coming closer, which would have occurred because of the latter’s dependence on the former for energy; it is even reported that to keep hostilities going between Russia and Ukraine, it sabotaged an agreement between the two, that had been witnessed by France and Germany. When this confrontation eventually led to Russia invading Ukraine, it imposed economic sanctions on Russia, so that Russia could not have access to its own dollar earnings obtained from exports. But it did not impose sanctions on the import of Russian oil and gas (except into the United States itself where such import meets about 8 per cent of total energy requirements); the reason is that as much as 40 per cent of the European Union’s energy needs are met through imports from Russia, and sanctions against Russian oil would have hit the European population hard, leading to a possible break-up of the “western alliance”.
Economic Sanctions as Collective Punishment: The Case of Venezuela
Mark Weisbrot and Jeffrey Sachs
Center for Economic and Policy Research | April 2019
This paper looks at some of the most important impacts of the economic sanctions imposed on Venezuela by the US government since August of 2017. It finds that most of the impact of these sanctions has not been on the government but on the civilian population. The sanctions reduced the public’s caloric intake, increased disease and mortality (for both adults and infants), and displaced millions of Venezuelans who fled the country as a result of the worsening economic depression and hyperinflation. They exacerbated Venezuela’s economic crisis and made it nearly impossible to stabilize the economy, contributing further to excess deaths. All of these impacts disproportionately harmed the poorest and most vulnerable Venezuelans. Even more severe and destructive than the broad economic sanctions of August 2017 were the sanctions imposed by executive order on January 28, 2019 and subsequent executive orders this year; and the recognition of a parallel government, which as shown below, created a whole new set of financial and trade sanctions that are even more constricting than the executive orders themselves. We find that the sanctions have inflicted, and increasingly inflict, very serious harm to human life and health, including an estimated more than 40,000 deaths from 2017–2018; and that these sanctions would fit the definition of collective punishment of the civilian population as described in both the Geneva and Hague international conventions, to which the US is a signatory. They are also illegal under international law and treaties which the US has signed, and would appear to violate US law as
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