- The global community will be not amused anymore by the way the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine has played out over the last couple of months. The uncalled-for aggression and illegal warmongering by Moscow have not gone down well with any nation worth its salt is stating the obvious. The USA led the way alongside several countries, especially European Union nations, in announcing sanctions of varied dimensions on Russia soon after the invasion. How hypocritical as well as ineffectual such sanctions can be gauged by the fact that many EU countries kept purchasing Russian crude oil even as the Ukraine crisis kept blowing up full-time.
- As reported extensively, the European Union, as well as the USA, left no stone unturned in urging the Indian establishment to condemn the Russian invasion in no uncertain terms. It reached a crescendo when India imported a minuscule amount of Russian oil at a discounted rate to meet its energy requirements. However, as the statistics reveal, gas imports undertaken by the European nations run into billions of dollars simply negating the sanctions to take effect organically. As the war in Ukraine enters a new phase with Russia now concentrating its military operations in the Ukrainian east and South, the EU is preparing a new sanctions package that aims at Russian oil.
- As mentioned above, with the earlier sanctions failing to debilitate Moscow’s war-making capacity, the realization has been growing that Europe has to cut the billions it’s paying to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin for energy. It’s against this backdrop that the new sanctions propose EU members ban the import of Russian crude within six months and halt the purchase of Russian refined oil products by the end of the year. However, note that missing still is any concrete plan to cut off gas imports. Nonetheless, banning Russian oil is significant as the EU was importing around 3-3.5 million barrels daily before the war sending around $400 million in daily payments to Moscow.
PC: Atlantic Council
- Of course, agreeing on the new measures won’t be a cakewalk. As reports mention, with the proposed sanctions giving countries like Hungary and Slovakia a longer Russian oil phaseout period of 20 months, other EU members like the Czech Republic and Bulgaria have argued for similar leeway. Russia also appears to be working on a strategy to divide the EU as exemplified by its move last week to halt gas flows to Poland and Bulgaria. Meanwhile, the US is moving to obtain a whopping $33 billion in fresh aid to Ukraine thereby indicating in no uncertain terms that the war is going to be prolonged with no immediate ceasefire insight.
- Close observation of the unfolding events mentioned above will reveal that the West may be changing its goalpost from defending Ukraine to eroding Russia and its heft in a concerted manner. What such a move envisaged also denotes that the conflict won’t be abating any time soon and disruptions to the global economy will also suffer in the absence of rules-based order. What does it entail for India and its interests? India is already walking a diplomatic tightrope over the conflict plus facing economic challenges such as high inflation. As PM Modi rightfully asserted during his Europe tour, there will be no winning party in this war, and everyone will suffer, with the impact on developing and poor countries being more serious.