Was the decision of Russia to stop natural gas exports a severe mistake?

was-the-decision-of-russia-to-stop-naturalbrgas-exports-a-severe-mistake

The week before, Russia announced it would stop natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria as both countries failed to comply with the request to pay exports in rubles, the country’s official currency. This is the latest move off the battlefield, to strike to rebuff Western attempts to weaken the country while its military forces are being slowed by Ukrainian troops in the besieged eastern region in Donbas.

Russia has maintained diplomatic relations within the Asia-Pacific region with China and India the two largest partners even in the face of Western sanctions. But the decision to block exports of energy has strengthened the alliance between Europe and the US especially since Europe is deliberating about the addition of penalties against Russia.

The Kremlin has justified this move, arguing that it was a necessity to safeguard Russia’s reserves in the financial sector in the wake of severe sanctions.

“They shut down our accounts or, to put it in Russian they stole the bulk of our reserve funds,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said to reporters in a conference call with reporters – ‘Russia Natural gas News‘.

Europe is importing about a third of its crude gas and oil from Russia however that hasn’t stopped Russia from employing sanctions as a means to stop Russia’s repressive actions in Ukraine. It is believed that the European Union has already put out five rounds of economic sanctions on Russia and is set to extend the penalties further in the coming weeks.

Russia’s decision to halt the export of gas to Poland as well as Bulgaria — – the latter of which was undecided about its position on Russia until the ban was imposed recently — is a risky step that is intended to serve as a warning to other European nations. Some experts have dismissed the move as an error.

Based on Yoshiko Herrera who is a professor of political sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, specializing in Eurasian political science, this could result in the opposite result.

“One of the most important arguments used by those who favor the addition of sanctions on energy is that Russia is an untrustworthy partner, and they are using energy as a negotiating instrument,” said Herrera. “So by stopping gas supply for Poland and Bulgaria the Russians are making the argument that they’re a shady partner.”

While no formal plans were made, Bloomberg reports that the EU is likely to put in place the ban on Russian oil before the close of this year. It will then gradually restrict its imports up to.

“Full European energy sanctions would seriously harm Russia’s economy, and hamper their capability to wage war since they’ll run out of cash. That, in my opinion, is something Russia should be concerned regarding,” Herrera said. “Their continuing poor behavior in Ukraine and the atrocities that they have committed are the thing that is forcing Europe to radically alter its opinions on certain things, like energy.”

Russia has enjoyed some international support since the invasion of Ukraine

In spite of Western powers’ sweeping condemnation and attempts to discredit Russia, Russia has been able to keep its ties and relationships across the globe. In April the year of it was the UN General Assembly voted on the resolution to remove Russia from the Human Rights Council over its invasion of Ukraine. The resolution passed when it was approved by an overwhelming majority of two-thirds members’ votes with 93 nations voting in favor of the suspension of Russia from the council. However, 24 of the body’s members opposed the move and 58 abstained from the vote completely.

The results that resulted from the UN vote highlight the complexity of diplomacy that is real-world even in the midst of conflict. Countries across Africa, South America, and Asia are more and more trying to avoid taking sides in the war between Ukraine and Russia could turn this world into political divisions. However, the West’s declining influence elsewhere in the world, along with the political and economic concerns have led to several countries choosing to preserve their autonomy with respect to relationships with Russia.

In Asia, which is where the growing concern about China’s growing influence is being shared across borders, many countries located in the southeast and southern parts of Asia have declared they intend to remain in good standing with Russia despite the current situation in Ukraine. One of Russia’s closest allies in India and the country has enjoyed a close connection since the Soviet Union’s assistance to India during the war of 1971 with Pakistan and Pakistan, even though India did not officially join the alliance during this period of the Cold War.

Another reason behind their long-standing relationship is India’s dependence on Russia as a weapon supplier. From 1950 until now, India has received approximately sixty-five percent of the exports of firearms to Russia. The Soviet Union or Russia, according to the Stockholm
International Peace Research Institute. The border dispute between India and China within the Himalayas with China which led to a bloody battle in the year 2020 was another factor that prompted the friendship for India because Russia has served as an essential mediator throughout the war with China.

China, also a key Russian partner, also has decided to refrain from blaming Russia completely but instead has asked for the two countries involved in the war to come to a peaceful solution. In a meeting virtual in March together with France and Germany, president Xi Jinping called for “maximum control” in the matter and expressed concern about the wider negative impact of
sanctions on Russia. Some, such as Herrera, are unsure of how far China will go to adhere to the rules even if the situation gets worse.

“China has not stated that they won’t abide by the sanctions, and is in the process of embracing these sanctions against Russia,” Herrera said. A pivotal moment, she suggested, could be Europe’s next sanctions, and in particular any additional sanctions it puts out, which could be “a major turning point for China to consider whether to take part in the sanctions.”

However, its ties with Russia might serve China economically. Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated Russia will “redirect” its energy exports to “rapidly expanding markets” other places to aid in bolstering against sanctions, possibly in an effort to keep the support of its main allies.

Russian Forces continue to encounter challenges to their military operations in Ukraine

Following two years of war and tensions, the front of the war between Russia and Ukraine is showing no sign of easing down. Russian military forces have changed the focus of their efforts in recent weeks to assume control of the eastern part of Ukraine which is known as the Donbas area, where fighting between Ukraine forces and separatists supported by Russia was ongoing
since the year 2014.

Russia continues to progress on Kyiv, launching an airstrike on Kyiv’s capital city this week, during a courtesy tour of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The strike was widely criticized as an ineffective action of aggression of Russian fo

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with Guterres during his visit to the capital of Ukraine and has accused Russia of trying to smear the UN.

“It is a clear indication of Russia’s real attitude towards international institutions, and about the attempts by the Russian leadership to slander the UN and everything it symbolizes. This requires a firm action,” Zelenskyy stated in a speech to the public after the airstrike.

Former UN Vice Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown declared that the world community “will be able to recognize that they shouldn’t endure having their UN secretary-general treated in this disrespectful, casual, and quite frankly, dangerous manner from Putin.”

The conflict is showing that it is not slowing down and continues to escalate, this week US President Joe Biden asked Congress to provide another $33 billion worth of military aid to help Ukraine’s defenses. Biden’s suggestion, which contains strategies for possibly using confiscated money from Russian oligarchs in order to finance the Ukrainian military which is more than two
times more than what was approved in the $13.6 billion of humanitarian and military aid that was accepted by Congress in the last month.

Herrera believes that a boost in energy could be very beneficial for Ukraine physically and strategically and even now into the conflict. In conjunction with sanctions on energy by Europe Herrera said Russia might be facing some significant obstacles in reaching its goals because “that will make a significant difference in Russia’s capability to combat the conflict.”

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