By Tapiwa Gomo
The war in Ukraine continues to rage causing civilian casualties and massive population displacement. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) and the European Union remain on the sidelines fearing their intervention may plunge the world into a major war. They continue to pledge support with ammunition. But, globally, economies are trembling as fuel prices soar.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, sounded like he was climbing down from his earlier position and has indicated willingness to talk to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin directly. He sounded like he was willing to pursue peaceful ways of stopping the war and addressing the differences between the two countries.
Whatever comes out of the talks between the two countries, there are few things certain. The war between Russia and Ukraine has shaken the world and possibly adjusted the geopolitical power dynamics. The capriciousness to European Union (EU) countries on policy positions and their interpretations have destroyed the moral credibility of the democratic West.
The way the Ukraine war has been handled compared to other ongoing wars in African and the Middle East has exposed massive racist exceptionalism by Western countries, their leadership, their media and their people. This will make it hard to regain confidence and respect the EU as a moral authority, crippling their ability to call other countries to order.
Racism has been as rife as ages of slavery and colonialism. Prince William, during a visit to the Ukrainian Cultural Centre in London, was quoted by the media saying: “It’s very alien to see this in Europe.”
This means Europeans are used to seeing conflict only in Africa and the Middle East and not in Europe. One of the European Commissioners on Crisis management tried to refute claims of racism against black and brown refugees by Poland border officials. It was only when he was presented with evidence that he issued a condemnation. There has been similar sentiments across the Western bloc, a situation that shows that there is still a major racism problem in the West.
The loss of credibility is not only limited to racist exceptionalism, but the perfidy with which the Russia-Ukraine war has been handled. Russia has claimed that Nato reneged on several agreements among which include that they should not enrol new members and for the alliance not to expand eastwards. If these were respected, the war would have been avoided. But the West chose otherwise and cheered the Ukraine leadership as it resisted Russia’s demands even when Nato knew it would not intervene and help Ukraine. This war is a result of Western deception of both Russia and Ukraine and the two countries must find each other.
The Western bloc is not only responsible for what is unfolding in Ukraine but also the global economic impact of the war. While Nato, EU and everyone else have been focused on avoiding a world war, it may seem that the seismic effects of the war on global economies has escaped many. Part of the global political power terrain has been shifting. While Russia is the primary victim of the sanctions, the West is most likely going to be one of the biggest losers and poor countries and their households will suffer more from the ripple economic effects of the war.
Sanctions on Russia seems like a miscalculated move driven by nothing but political expediency. Banning trade with Russia — a global economic giant — will definitely send ripples through the rest of the global economy. This is because we now live a global village of inter-connectedness. Already, sanctions on Russia — a country that contributes 40% of global fuel supply — has seen prices of fuel spiking across the world. All this could have been avoided if the right decisions were made by all involved. But thanks to Western gullibility and double standards, the people of Ukraine bear the burden of war and yet global economies are on the verge of a major inflation.
The impact of the sanctions are as simple as understanding that Russia is the world’s largest exporter of oil and gas and major supplier to major economies in the European Union bloc, as well as China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and others. More than 8% of United States of America crude oil and petroleum is imported from Russia. Several other major economies rely on Russia for coal and other sources of energy.
Given its historical relationship with Western European, Russia has always been aware of the importance of these energy trade relationships to its political agenda. This simply means that it is not easy to sanction Russia without feeling the same impact or rearranging global oil trade. Europe would be hit hard as Russia’s major market, but its energy exports are as critical to other global economies.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has raised the alarm that the war in Ukraine and the ensuing sanctions imposed on Russia will have a “severe impact” on the global economy. Prices of food and other essential commodities have started to rise, compounding the looming inflationary environment.
“Price shocks will have an impact worldwide, especially on poor households for whom food and fuel are a higher proportion of expenses,” the IMF said.
“Should the conflict escalate, the economic damage would be all the more devastating. The sanctions on Russia will also have a substantial impact on the global economy and financial markets, with significant spillovers to other countries.”