Ukraine War’s Impact on the West

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Munir Ahmed

British Prime Minister Liz Truss was forced to resign less than seven weeks after her economic plans sparked chaos in financial markets and further dented the ailing economy.

245th day of the Russia-Ukraine war. Its impact has gripped the region and the West. No exaggeration, the global economy has nose-dived since the conflict was fueled by the “friends” of Ukraine. Even the rich European states are crumbling to energy and food crises. Inflation is rising day by day. Essential commodities are increasingly going out of reach of the common people now in the West too. Their media and economy watchdogs are shouting aloud while people are on the roads to protest.
Associated Press (AP), the US-based one of the largest global news media, reported last Saturday that inflation protests across Europe threaten political turmoil. Protesters in Romania march past on the streets; blowing horns and banging drums to voice their dismay over the rising cost of living. People across France took to the streets to demand pay increases that keep pace with inflation. Czech demonstrators rallied against the government’s handling of the energy crisis. British railway staff and German pilots held strikes to push for better pay as prices rose. It all happened in one day. The protests are becoming a routine matter, not only in Europe, the UK and the US, but in other parts of the world, too, because of the soaring inflation, energy and food crisis. It threatens to unleash political turmoil too. British Prime Minister Liz Truss was forced to resign less than seven weeks after her economic plans sparked chaos in financial markets and further dented the ailing economy.
A severe energy crisis is looming large for Europe after high inflation and a food crisis. The Bruegel think tank in Brussels has stated that a whopping 576 billion euros (over $566 billion) in energy relief to households and businesses since September 2021 is not enough for some protesters. Since the Russia-Ukraine war was fueled up, energy prices have driven inflation in the 19 countries that use the euro currency to a record 9.9 per cent, making it harder for people to buy what they need. Some don’t see any choice but to hit the streets.
A risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft has stated that the fallout from the war in Ukraine has sharply raised the risk of civil unrest in Europe. European leaders have strongly supported Ukraine along with the US. They sent their weapons and pledged or were forced to wean their economies off cheap Russian oil and natural gas. But, the transition hasn’t been easy and threatens to erode public support. There’s no quick fix to the energy crisis entire Europe is facing at the moment. Inflation might be worse next year. That means the link between economic pressure and popular opinion on the Ukraine war will be tested.
Increasing demand for gas to heat homes, food crisis and the cost of living may play havoc on 19 EU countries and the UK. If the European leadership fails to find any solution to the energy crisis, they will end up with unexpected disruption to the supply of gas this harsh winter. Perhaps, this is the time the citizens of the NATO and EU should ask their leadership about their blatant engagement in the Ukraine war. A conflict the US fueled up for its vested interest and billed its cost to the people of the NATO and EU states. Seems no options left for Europe, but a swift amicable solution to the conflict through some confidence-building measures (CBMs) and engagement of mediators.
Firstly, the US and the West have to stop the military shipments to Ukraine, and the “technical support.” As a primary CBM, they shall withdraw their accusations against Russia about blocking food supplies to Ukraine, and unwarranted claims of war crimes. So, the ongoing malicious campaign in the US, the Western and Ukrainian media aimed primarily at discrediting the Russian leadership and the Russian Armed Forces shall end. How can we ignore Russia’s offers to the Ukrainian president to talk about the peace process; guaranteeing the safe passage of Ukrainian food grain ships to Europe and other parts of the world?
Secondly, it must be understood that economic sanctions could not serve the objective. Instead segregated the global community into a more polarized world. The recent crisis in Europe is the result of economic sanctions on Russia and the war in Ukraine. A smear campaign against Russia may blow up Russia’s image as a “cruel and cynical country” and guilty of a global food crisis, but cannot resolve the food crisis. Ukraine’s food grain supplies through Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania cannot do the needful in the fast worsening food and energy crisis. The US and EU have to lift economic sanctions on Russia for added smooth supplies of staple food and gas to Europe and unfreeze its funds and payments.
Thirdly, the international monitors need to check thoroughly if the Ukrainian grain has not been stored in the “golden billion” countries, and would be used by them for speculative black market food sales. Fourthly, the speculation about the West using the military situation in Ukraine to siphon off Ukraine’s natural resources is agonizing. Poland is said to be the main beneficiary. The impartial countries and UN authorities shall also check the reasons for the blocked Black Sea ports. Some Ukrainian armed forces units are blamed for the intensive mining of natural resources in their coastal zone.
Russia has claimed that the US and its allies have blocked logistical channels for Russian agricultural products to be shipped abroad as well as the payments for them. Despite the situation, Russia exported over 1.2 million tons of wheat in May 2022 to countries that do not accept the US and EU sanctions. It exceeded 1.4 million tons in June, and under the Russian grain export quota, its companies exported 11 million tons of cereals. The facts show Moscow’s affirmed commitment to continue the supply of its agricultural products to countries that pay the bill without any fear of sanctions. Europe needs to rethink the situation and act accordingly before it’s too late for their countries.

The writer is a freelance journalist and broadcaster, and Director Devcom-Pakistan. He can be reached at devcom.pakistan@gmail.com and tweets @EmmayeSyed.