We pick up halfway through this Spectator piece.
The other prong, though, has turned out to be blunt: the plan to wage economic war with Moscow, unleashing financial shock and awe on a scale never seen before. Russia was to be cut off almost entirely, with sanctions and boycotts on all imports and exports save for humanitarian ones such as medicines. Putin’s Russia, went the theory, would be impoverished into surrender.
Few people in the West are aware of how badly this aspect of the war is going. Europe has itself paid a high price to effect a partial boycott of Russian oil and gas. UK fossil fuel imports from Russia totalled £4.5 billion in 2021; in the year to January 2023 that was – officially – down to £1.3 billion. In 2020 the EU sourced 39 per cent of its gas and 23 per cent of its oil from Russia; in the third quarter of last year this was down to 15 per cent and 14 per cent respectively.
But these figures do not explain the scale of the failure to damage the Russian economy. It soon became clear that while the West was keen on an economic war, the rest of the world was not. As its oil and gas exports to Europe fell, Russia quickly upped its exports to China and India – both of which preferred to buy oil at a discount than to make a stand against the invasion of Ukraine. Worse, some of the Russian oil exported to India appears to have been siphoned back to Europe, with a rise in the number of ships taking refined oil from India through the Suez Canal.
At the very start of the Russia-Ukraine war I made fun of the NYTimes for arguing that Russia is unimportant to the world economy. After all, they produce fuel and other natural resources which are crucial for more advanced goods to be made. Shutting Europe off from that would be far more devastating to Europe than to Russia. But it turns out that the way Europe survived not getting Russian oil is by… getting Russian oil through an intermediary.
This is not a one off thing either. The intermediary workarounds go in both directions.
There seems to be some siphoning in the other direction, too. An investigation by the German newspaper Bild has uncovered a disturbing growth in exports to countries bordering Russia. The importing of German motor vehicles to Kazakhstan, for example, rose by 507 per cent between 2021 and 2022 and to Armenia by 761 per cent. Exports of chemical products to Armenia increased by 110 per cent and to Kazakhstan by 129 per cent. Sales of electrical and computer equipment to Armenia are up 343 per cent. What happens to these goods once they reach these former Soviet republics is not easy to establish, but one likely explanation is that they end up in Russia as diverted trade flows. And even if such commodities are not formally being re-exported, many Russian citizens retain visa-free access to those countries and are able to take goods across the border.
I would argue that is the only likely explanation. Did the Kazakhs and Armenians suddenly demand almost five times as many computer parts, eight times as many automobiles, and two and a half times as many chemical products? There is no compelling argument for why this would be the case.
Any serious military or Government would have planned for this, and if getting the goods their economy demands is as simple as buying them through intermediaries, it makes very little difference to them. The sanctions are therefore largely signaling.
The West embarked on its sanctions war with an exaggerated sense of its own influence around the world. As we have discovered, non-western countries lack the will to impose sanctions on either Russia or on Russian oligarchs.
Or perhaps everyone hates Weimerica, and doesn’t care about the utterly hypocritical invasion of Iraq cheerleaders demanding that they suffer along with them for George Soros’ foreign policy agenda.
I agree that Israel’s Bitch has an exaggerated sense of its importance around the world. A lot of the intermediaries in the US Military Industrial Complex appear to be outright clowns, with no sense of realpolitik. The delegitimization of the US as a force for good is well and truly over, which is also why they are struggling so mightily to recruit.
The decline of NATO and disgrace of the US on the world’s stage is, at this point, an unambiguously good thing.
The results of the miscalculation are there for all to see. In April last year, the IMF forecast that the Russian economy would contract by 8.5 per cent in 2022 and by a further 2.3 per cent this year. As it turned out, GDP fell by just 2.1 per cent last year, and this year the IMF is forecasting a small rise of 0.7 per cent. And that is all in spite of the war in Ukraine going much more badly than many imagined it would in February of last year. The Russian economy has not been destroyed; it has merely been reconfigured, reorientated to look eastwards and southwards rather than westwards.
For a long time I’ve argued Schlomo has given up on the US Military. They’ll keep the ICBM’s and nuke boats operational, so that Weimerica can be used as a true terrorist state, ready to nuke any upstart nation that doesn’t want to play ball with Israel. However, they are also behaving as if it’s 1990, and America is still the Golden Golem, ready to deliver the smackdown to well established first world nations.
I can’t help but think that the destruction of America was an enormous misstep. Russia and China are relatively unideological, and ready to step in to serve as the new world powers, since they don’t demand that you turn your kids into trannies. Arguably, China is already the world superpower, and our Parasite Class is simply living in denial over this.
It’s easy to overanalyze every action of ZOG as some sort of grandmaster level 5D chess move. The reality appears to be more that they’re a 500 Elo player who has rigged the game to give themselves an unfair material advantage, only to make blunder after blunder.
There may be no sensible explanation. If there is one, it’s that they’re trying to get the maximum value out of the walking corpse of America before it inevitably rots, and don’t care how many risks they have to take. Expect things to get worse, and our (((Democracy Class))) to act even more unhinged. After all, it’s not like it’s their country that’s being ruined, or their people dying.