Was Russia’s decision to limit its natural gas exports a mistake?

Russia announced last week that it would cut off natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria after the countries refused to comply with its demand for export payments to be made in rubles, Russia’s national currency. It is the latest maneuver out of the fight in response to Western efforts to weaken the country, even with the help of its armed forces. Continue to slow down Ukrainian forces in the besieged eastern region of Donbass.

Russia has largely managed to maintain diplomatic relations in the Asia-Pacific region with China and India, its biggest allies, despite Western sanctions. However, the decision to cut energy exports has strengthened Europe’s alliance with the United States, especially as Europe continues to consider additional sanctions against Russia.

The Kremlin has defended the move as a necessary measure to protect Russia’s financial reserves after severe sanctions.

“They closed our accounts or stole, in Russian, a significant part of our reserves,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the media.

Europe imports a third of its oil and gas needs from Russia, but this did not prevent it from using sanctions as a tool to stop the country’s aggression against Ukraine. The European Union has already imposed five rounds of economic sanctions on Russia and is expected to impose more sanctions in the coming weeks.

Russia’s decision to limit gas exports to Poland and Bulgaria, the latter of which had been swinging toward Russia until the latest ban, is a risky move designed to warn other European countries. But some experts dismissed the move as a miscalculation.

This may have the opposite effect, according to Yoshiko Herrera, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who specializes in Eurasian politics.

“One of the main arguments for additional energy sanctions is that ‘Russia is an unreliable partner and they are using energy as a political tool,'” Herrera said. “So, by cutting off gas to Poland and Bulgaria, they are proving to be unreliable partners.”

Although no official proposals have been made, Bloomberg reports that the European Union will likely impose a ban on Russian oil by the end of the year and will gradually reduce its imports by then.

Full European energy sanctions will really hurt [Russia’s] It hurts their ability to wage war because their money is running out. “I think this is something Russia has to worry about,” Herrera said. “Its their continued bad behavior in Ukraine and their atrocities are, in my opinion, what is driving Europe to fundamentally change its approach to things and energy.”

Russia has kept allies since its invasion of Ukraine

Screens show part of the UN decision to remove Russia from the UN Human Rights Council after the General Assembly vote on April 7, 2022.
Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

Despite widespread condemnation of Russia and attempts to isolate Russia, the country managed to retain allies. In April, the United Nations General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council over its invasion of Ukraine. The decision was successful, the decision was taken by a two-thirds vote of the member states with 93 countries voting in favor of suspending Russia from the council. However, 24 members of the committee voted against the measure, while 58 members abstained completely.

The results of the UN vote show the complexity of real-world diplomacy, even in the face of war. Countries in Africa, South America, and Asia increasingly tried to resist the periphery when the Russo-Ukrainian war threatened to shape the world into political factions. But the decline of the West’s influence elsewhere in the world, combined with the threat to economic and political interests, has led to the emergence of many nations by choosing to maintain their independence when it comes to relations with Russia.

In Asia, where growing vigilance over China’s growing influence is divided across borders, countries in the southeast and south of the continent have expressed their intention to remain on good terms with Russia despite the situation with Ukraine. India is among Russia’s most loyal allies, and it has maintained a strong alliance with them since the Soviet Union supported India during the 1971 war with Pakistan.

Another factor that maintains their friendship is India’s friendship with Russia’s reliance as a military supplier of arms – from the 1950s to the present, the country received an estimated 65 percent of firearms exports from the Soviet Union or Russia, according to Stockholm International Peace Research. institute. Border disputes between India and China in the Himalayas that led to a bloody clash in 2020, are another impetus for India, with Russia playing an important role in mediating the conflict with China.

Close relations between India and Russia pose a challenge to Western powers as India is seen as an important partner limiting Russian influence in the region.

China, another major ally of Russia, has refrained from explicitly condemning Russia and instead has asked the struggling nations to find a peaceful solution. In a hypothetical meeting in March with France and Germany, President Xi Jinping called for “maximum restraint” on the issue and expressed concerns about the broader impact of sanctions on Russia. However, some, such as Herrera, question the extent to which China will continue to follow the line if the situation worsens.

“China has not said it will not abide by the sanctions and has so far agreed to sanctions against Russia,” Herrera said. She said a potential tipping point could be Europe’s next sanctions, particularly any secondary sanctions it imposes, which would be “a huge crossroads for China to decide whether or not to participate in these sanctions.”

But its relationship with Russia may end with the Chinese economy. President Vladimir Putin, the broadcaster, Russia will “redirect” its energy exports to “fast-growing markets” elsewhere to help counter sanctions, perhaps in an effort to maintain the support of its key ally.

Russian forces continue to face military obstacles in Ukraine

After two months of conflict, tensions on the military front between Russia and Ukraine show no signs of de-escalation. In recent weeks, the Russian armed forces have drawn attention to: the control of eastern Ukraine called the Donbass region, where battles have taken place between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists since 2014.

As Russia continued its march toward Kyiv, a raid began in the capital last week during the diplomatic visit of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The attack was widely condemned as an unnecessary act of aggression by Russian forces.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who met Guterres during his visit to the capital, accused Russia of deliberately trying to humiliate the United Nations.

It says a lot about Russia’s real attitude towards world institutions, about the efforts of Russian leaders to humiliate the United Nations and everything that this organization represents. Requires a strong response,” Zelensky’s man declared in a public address after the raid.

Former UN Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown said the international community “will understand that Putin cannot treat his UN Secretary-General in such a disrespectful, free, honest and dangerous way through Putin.”

The conflict also shows no signs of abating, last week US President Joe Biden will send Congress a requested another $33 billion in military aid to support Ukraine’s military defense. Biden’s proposal, which includes strategies for using money seized by Russia’s oligarchs to fund military operations in Ukraine, is more than double the $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian aid approved by Congress last month.

Herrera believes that additional reinforcements can be very beneficial to Ukraine, both strategically and physically, even in times of war. In addition to energy sanctions imposed by Europe, she said Russia could consider significant obstacles to achieving its goals as “that would be a big difference in Russia’s ability to start a war.”

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