May 20, 2022

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Was Russia's decision to cut natural gas exports a mistake?

Was Russia’s decision to cut natural gas exports a mistake?

Russia announced last week that it would cut off natural gas shipments to Poland and Bulgaria after countries refused to comply with its request to make export payments in rubles, Russia’s national currency. It is the latest maneuver off the battlefield to respond to Western efforts to weaken the country even with its armed forces. keep slowing down By Ukrainian forces in the besieged eastern region of Donbass.

Russia has largely been able to maintain diplomatic relations in the Asia-Pacific region with China and India, its biggest allies, despite Western sanctions. But its decision to cut off energy exports has strengthened Europe’s alliance with the United States, especially as Europe continues deliberations on imposing additional sanctions on Russia.

Kremlin defend This step as a necessary measure to protect Russia’s financial reserves after severe sanctions.

“They closed our accounts, or – to put it in Russian – they stole a significant part of our reserves,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the media during a press call.

Europe imports a third of its oil and gas needs from Russia, but this did not prevent it from using sanctions as a tool to stop the country’s aggression against Ukraine. The European Union has already imposed five rounds of economic sanctions against Russia, and is expected to impose more sanctions in the coming weeks.

Russia’s decision to cut gas exports to Poland and Bulgaria – the latter of which remained hesitant on Russia until the latest ban – is a risky move intended to serve as a warning to other European countries. But some experts have dismissed the move as a miscalculation.

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According to Yoshiko Herrera, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who specializes in Eurasian politics, it may have the opposite intended effect.

“One of the main arguments of people in favor of additional energy sanctions is to say, ‘Russia is an unreliable partner, and they are using energy as a political tool,'” Herrera said. “So by cutting off gas to Poland and Bulgaria, they’re kind of making the case that they’re an unreliable partner.”

Although no formal proposals have been made, Bloomberg Reports The European Union is likely to impose an embargo on Russian oil by the end of the year, and gradually limit its imports until then.

Full European energy sanctions will really hurt [Russia’s] It harms their ability to wage war because their money will run out. “I think that’s something that Russia has to worry about,” Herrera said. “Their continued bad behavior in Ukraine, the atrocities are what I think are driving Europe to fundamentally change their attitudes on things and energy.”

Russia has kept allies since its invasion of Ukraine

Screens show the passage of a UN resolution removing Russia from the UN Human Rights Council after the General Assembly vote on April 7, 2022.
Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

Despite widespread condemnation of Russia and efforts to isolate Russia, the country has managed to maintain allies. In April, the United Nations General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council over its invasion of Ukraine. Then the decision succeeded It was received A two-thirds majority vote of member states with 93 countries voting in favor of suspending Russia from the council. But 24 members of the commission voted against the measure, while 58 members abstained altogether.

The results of the UN vote indicate the complexities of real-world diplomacy even in the face of war. Countries in Africa, South America, and Asia have increasingly sought to resist taking sides as the Russo-Ukrainian War threatens to shape the world into political factions. But the West’s waning influence in other parts of the world, combined with at-risk economic and political interests, has given rise to many nations Choosing to maintain their independence When it comes to relations with Russia.

In Asia, where heightened vigilance about China’s growing influence across borders is shared, countries in the southeast and south of the continent expressed Their intentions are to remain on good terms with Russia despite the situation with Ukraine. Among Russia’s most loyal allies is India, with which it has maintained a strong alliance since the Soviet Union supported India during the 1971 war with Pakistan.

Another factor behind the continuation of their friendship is the friendship of India Accreditation On Russia as a military supplier of weapons – from the fifties until now the country has received An estimated 65 percent of firearms exports from the Soviet Union or Russia, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Boundary disputes between India and China in the Himalayas, which led to the emergence of a bloody clash In 2020, it is another motivating factor for India as Russia has acted as an important mediator in the conflict with China.

Close relations between India and Russia pose challenges to Western powers as India is seen as a Vital partner restricting Russian influence in the region.

China, another major ally of Russia, has refrained from explicitly condemning Russia, and instead has asked the warring nations to find a peaceful solution. In a virtual meeting in March with France and Germany, President Xi Jinping call for “maximum restraint” on the issue and expressed concerns about the broader impact of sanctions on Russia. But some, like Herrera, question the extent to which China will continue to follow the line if the situation worsens.

“China has not said it will not abide by the sanctions, and so far it is going along with the sanctions against Russia,” Herrera said. A potential tipping point, she said, could be Europe’s next sanctions, particularly any secondary sanctions it imposes, which would be “a huge crossroads for China to decide whether to participate in those sanctions.”

But its relations with Russia could end up serving China economically. President Vladimir Putin advertiser Russia will “redirect” its energy exports to “fast-growing markets” elsewhere to help shore up against sanctions, perhaps trying to maintain support from its key ally.

Russian forces continue to face military obstacles in Ukraine

After two months of conflict, tensions on the war front between Russia and Ukraine have shown no signs of de-escalation. The Russian armed forces have shifted focus in recent weeks to control of eastern Ukrainereferred to as the Donbass region, where fighting has been ongoing between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists since 2014.

As Russia continued its advance towards Kyiv, launch an air raid In the capital last week during a diplomatic visit by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The attack was widely condemned as an unnecessary act of aggression by Russian forces.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who met Guterres during his visit to the capital, accused Russia of deliberately trying to humiliate the United Nations.

It says a lot about Russia’s true attitude towards global institutions, about the efforts of the Russian leadership to humiliate the United Nations and everything the organization represents. It requires a strong response,” Zelensky advertiser In a public address after the air raid.

Former UN Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown said the international community “will realize that Putin cannot treat his UN Secretary-General in this disrespectful, casual, frank and dangerous manner by Putin.”

The conflict also shows no signs of abating, last week US President Joe Biden Requested Congress will send another $33 billion in military aid to support Ukraine’s military defenses. Biden’s proposal, which includes strategies for using money seized from Russia’s oligarchy to fund military operations in Ukraine, is more than double the $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian aid that Congress already approved last month.

Herrera believes that additional reinforcement can be very beneficial to Ukraine, both strategically and physically, even in a wartime period. Besides energy sanctions imposed by Europe, she said Russia could look at significant barriers to achieving its goals because “that would make a huge difference in Russia’s ability to go to war.”