The complexities of solidarity

Elena Panina (Елена Панина)
Director of the RUSSTRAT Institute

Why the unity of the collective West against Russia is gradually crumbling

Stiff reaction of the collective West, which swiftly undertook the maximum possible sanctions against Russia, continues to have a negative impact on the economies of the EU countries above all. At the same time, the leverage of the West is weakening considerably in a confrontation that the parties involved perceive not as just another regional conflict, but as an existential confrontation in fact.

Europe, which has entered the sanctions arena as a fearless gladiator with NATO as its shield, is gradually having to admit that, despite all its desire to punish Moscow for its political independence, the West is running out of trumps. At the same time, the reverse effect of the sanctions on the EU economy cannot be concealed, nor can Russia be stopped. "Nine sanctions packages and less than zero impact!" lamented, for example, former Belgian Prime Minister and MEP Guy Verhofstadt recently.

2022 was a year of lost illusions, both in the West and in Russia. But if Moscow has seemingly said goodbye to the possibility of equal political and economic cooperation with the West, European politicians are not yet ready to admit that the period of EU countries' development was largely due to cheap Russian resources and not to the brilliance of the Brussels bureaucrats in charge of the economic track.

The new realities are extremely sensitive for Europe, as the consequence of rising energy prices is a drop in living standards and the de-industrialisation of states. The winners in this situation are the U.S., which today pulls all efficient production from European countries. In addition, the EU pays three to four times more for American gas than it costs American suppliers. This, by the way, has already sparked public indignation from Emmanuel Macron, who directly referred to this economic policy of the allies as a double standard.

Thus, there is a serious crack in the "unanimity" of the collective West. And European politicians are simply not yet in a position to change the current situation because the pipeline gas market in the EU has been destroyed.

Europeans are forced to switch to LNG, the price of which has been raised by the States to their arch-rival. The consequences of such an economic policy for Europe can already be observed now: in particular, according to data from the German Federal Statistics Office, producer prices for industrial products in Germany have risen by an unthinkable 28.2% on the domestic market during the year.

Meanwhile, the IMF is already predicting that a third of the global economy will suffer a recession in 2023 and that "half the EU will be affected" but that America "will be able to avoid it". Americans, indeed, are happy to see economic growth, and this appears to be how the "solidarity policy" of the collective West is seen in Washington.

Against a backdrop of internal grievances, incoherence and a set of serious problems, the collective West's cohesion and unity against Russia is probably not to be expected. Although the rhetoric will continue to be full of threats and arms transfers to the NWFZ will become the new normal. At the same time, it will be under US pressure that arms transfers from European countries, especially Germany and France, will continue.

But the objectives of the "collective" united as recently as last spring are very different now - in January 2023. America, in a conceptual conflict with Russia, is trying to preserve its hegemony in the world. Europe, on the other hand, is trying to struggle to retain its former positions and its former comfort zone, which is impossible in the context of following in the footsteps of U.S. policy.

Moreover, Europe is losing not only its former success but also what remains of its sovereignty. At the same time, it is left alone with growing problems: declining public confidence in non-self-governing political elites, internal conflicts, billions of dollars in losses from severing economic ties with Russia and a migration crisis greatly exacerbated by Ukrainian refugees. The old-world configuration is crumbling, and in times such as these, of which there have been many in history, it is often the shirt that is closer to the body for each individual country.


Source: IMG: © Artist: Orensila / VectorStock. AWIP:


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