nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Russia is winning the economic war – and Putin is no closer to withdrawing troops

Putin has rightly been condemned for “weaponising” food, but his willingness to do so should come as no surprise. From the start, the Russian president has been playing a long game, waiting for the international coalition against him to fragment. The Kremlin thinks Russia’s threshold for economic pain is higher than the west’s, and it is probably right about that

Guardian, Larry Elliott, 3 June 22,

 The perverse effects of sanctions means rising fuel and food costs for the rest of the world – and fears are growing of a humanitarian catastrophe. Sooner or later, a deal must be made.

It is now three months since the west launched its economic war against Russia, and it is not going according to plan. On the contrary, things are going very badly indeed.

Sanctions were imposed on Vladimir Putin not because they were considered the best option, but because they were better than the other two available courses of action: doing nothing or getting involved militarily.

The first set of economic measures were introduced immediately after the invasion, when it was assumed Ukraine would capitulate within days. That didn’t happen, with the result that sanctions – while still incomplete – have gradually been intensified.

There is, though, no immediate sign of Russia pulling out of Ukraine and that’s hardly surprising, because the sanctions have had the perverse effect of driving up the cost of Russia’s oil and gas exports, massively boosting its trade balance and financing its war effort. In the first four months of 2022, Putin could boast a current account surplus of $96bn (£76bn) – more than treble the figure for the same period of 2021.

When the EU announced its partial ban on Russian oil exports earlier this week, the cost of crude oil on the global markets rose, providing the Kremlin with another financial windfall. Russia is finding no difficulty finding alternative markets for its energy, with exports of oil and gas to China in April up more than 50% year on year.

That’s not to say the sanctions are pain-free for Russia. The International Monetary Fund estimates the economy will shrink by 8.5% this year as imports from the west collapse. Russia has stockpiles of goods essential to keep its economy going, but over time they will be used up.

But Europe is only gradually weaning itself off its dependency on Russian energy, and so an immediate financial crisis for Putin has been averted. The rouble – courtesy of capital controls and a healthy trade surplus – is strong. The Kremlin has time to find alternative sources of spare parts and components from countries willing to circumvent western sanctions…………………

As a result of the war, western economies face a period of slow or negative growth and rising inflation – a return to the stagflation of the 1970s. Central banks – including the Bank of England – feel they have to respond to near double-digit inflation by raising interest rates. Unemployment is set to rise. Other European countries face the same problems, if not more so, since most of them are more dependent on Russian gas than is the UK.

The problems facing the world’s poorer countries are of a different order of magnitude. For some of them the issue is not stagflation, but starvation, as a result of wheat supplies from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports being blocked.

As David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Programme put it: “Right now, Ukraine’s grain silos are full. At the same time, 44 million people around the world are marching towards starvation.”

…………………..  Putin has rightly been condemned for “weaponising” food, but his willingness to do so should come as no surprise. From the start, the Russian president has been playing a long game, waiting for the international coalition against him to fragment. The Kremlin thinks Russia’s threshold for economic pain is higher than the west’s, and it is probably right about that……

The atrocities committed by Russian troops mean compromising with the Kremlin is currently hard to swallow, but economic reality suggests only one thing: sooner or later a deal will be struck.

June 4, 2022 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, politics international, weapons and war

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: