By Ofwono Opondo
KAMPALA –The fear-mongering over an alleged China ‘spy’ balloon shot over US last Saturday could be a convenient temporary distraction from Russia-Ukrainian quagmire – meant to shape US near-future operations.
As already admitted, balloons previously flew under Donald Trump and Joe Biden yet noise wasn’t made.
It’s more like Iraq’s alleged WMD that never was. James Bond is back, and United States, with the most extensive, intrusive and destructive security around the world shouldn’t be wailing so loudly. What goes round comes round.
Nine rounds of economic sanctions touted as worldwide against Russia for its military operations against Ukraine, the blowback appears to show its failures. Firstly, the world has refused to shun Russia politically and economically as major trading regions and countries-China, India, Brazil, East Asia, Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico and Africa continue to trade with Russia. Russia responded with a total ban of food imports from Australia, Canada, Norway, Japan, US, and EU.
The West had hoped sanctions would make Russia immediately change course, scale down or withdraw troops and negotiate under NATO and EU terms. In the long-run they hoped their hubris would scare the whole world as against Cuba, Iran, Syria and Afghanistan.
They believed that sanctions would cause widespread economic hardships in Russia, public discontent and internal revolt against President Putin leading to the implosion, collapse and disintegration of the Russian Federation State, and have been sketching out a post-Russia map.
To the contrary, figures from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and global institutions show that Russia’s economy, ruble, inflation, external debt, exchange reserves, growth, industrial and trade performance are better in comparison to that of US and EU.
And this is so even when they confiscated Russia’s foreign exchange reserves worth 680bn dollars they’re now trying to steal by creating inflation in their countries. It was recently admitted in the EU parliament that while EU exports to Russia declined by 33% or 34.1bn Euros because they refuse to export, EU imports from Russia surged to 69.9% or 137.3bn Euros. Germany, EU’s biggest economy had an import turnover of 20.7bn Euros, and Slovenia imported 346% worth 1.1bn Euros.
The west didn’t appreciate that Russian oil and gas don’t have to be solid mainly in their markets, and consequently China, India, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia increased imports from Russia paid for out of the dollar system. The G7 forgot that they represent only 13% of the world’s entire population of 8bn, and although rich, they’re no longer the biggest suppliers or buyers of essential commodities like oil, gas, grain, edible oil, fertilizers and luxury goods that emerging markets demand.
In switching Russia off the world SWIFT payment system, countries trading with Russia found alternatives by opting to go via third party countries to transfer goods and money, including settlements in ruble, Yuan, rupees or barter trade which the west cannot effectively block. The example that Somali nationals have used since Somalia collapsed in early 1990s should have been a lesson, but because the west as a ‘superior race’, is arrogant, they falsely believe in own infinite wisdom.
The European Union countries which now cannot sell to Russia have left that market to others who are not participating in the sanctions regime. Europe is no longer the only traders as there is now emerging former V8 (Vulnerable8) of China, India, Brazil, East Asia, Venezuela, Mexico, Africa, and the Arab world. The illusion of everyone living under a ‘Western World Order’ is getting shuttered. These sanctions are proving that the US dollar, pound sterling and Euros are not comparable to oil, gas, grain, fertilizers, edible oils, timber, wildlife, gold, diamond and other metals as commodities. Some of those currencies aren’t worth the value of the paper they’re printed on because sometimes they’re printed whenever convenient.
So far, there hasn’t been shortage of buyers of Russian energy as others have ramped up their quantities and settling payment. Some actually buy Russian energy and re-sell to EU countries at a mark-up value. Russia’s GAZPROM is still pumping 42 million cubic meter of gas via Ukrainian pipelines daily, so Ukraine will still earn about $7bn in five years, while energy prices go through the roof in Europe.
The war and sanctions are helping US override European countries as manufacturing is reported to be getting uprooted especially in Germany due to rising energy costs and transferred to the US so that Europe becomes more reliant on the US. The US is said to be expanding its Green Card to attract skilled labour from Europe. Now, put those together and suck.
While European are willing to go down the dark alley the US is taking them, it appears their strategic manoeuvre to weaken and destroy Russia and China won’t be that easy because as of December 2022, US trade deficit with China stood at $382.9bn. The EU is not just shooting itself in the foot as the old adage goes, but rather in the lung, but because their populations still sedated in own propaganda investment, the implosion could find them utterly unprepared.
The writer is the Director –Uganda Media Centre.