Indian writer and essayist Pankaj Mishra stressed, “The antiquated Cold War model of thinking – democracy versus autocracy, as U.S. President Joe Biden says – is misleading. It gives the impression that there are only these two power blocs. In truth, the world is deeply interconnected.
White men’s war
by Erhard Crome
[This article published on 6/10/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.linksnet.de/artikel/48397.]
The hegemonic war between Russia and the U.S. and NATO has four dimensions: the shooting war in Ukraine, in which Ukrainians provide the ground troops of the West and are the victims; a propaganda war waged very skillfully by Ukrainian President Selenski and the Western mainstream media; a political-diplomatic war in the UN and worldwide; and the West’s economic war against Russia.
In view of the EU summit on May 30-31 in Brussels, the stricter economic sanctions repeatedly demanded by Selenski had become the center of the controversy. Hungary’s Prime Minister Orbán prevented a complete oil embargo against Russia, as Poland and other states had demanded and Ursula von der Leyen had planned. Earlier, Orbán had stressed, “We need the solutions first and then the sanctions.” In the end, there was an embargo on Russian oil deliveries by ship, while deliveries continue via the “Druzhba” oil pipeline, which dates back to socialist times and to which Hungary is also attached. Vice-Chancellor Habeck called Orbán’s actions “nefarious” because he had represented Hungary’s interests, while “politics must be pursued in a higher interest.” German media commented predominantly that this only served “Putin.”
In fact, one nationalist (Orbán) had a score to settle with the other nationalist (Selenski). Since 2014, not only Russians but also Hungarians in Transcarpathia have been affected by the restrictive Ukrainian language and regional policy. In Hungary, for example, it was reported that the Ukrainian website “Mirotvorec,” which is considered far-right and is said to be linked to the Ukrainian domestic intelligence service SBU, maintains a death list of “enemies of Ukraine” that includes tens of thousands of people, with date of birth, address and passport number. Among them from Hungary were Orbán, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, EU Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi, as well as László Brenzovics, president of the Hungarian Cultural Association in Transcarpathia, and a number of other people who were active in offices and institutions there. Many of the latter had seen special reason to leave Ukraine after the beginning of the war: they feared for life and limb.
Since already since March 2022 President Selenski as well as the Ukrainian ambassador in Budapest, Ljubov Nepop, publicly criticized the Hungarian government for its restrained tactics and in particular the ban on supplying Western weapons to Ukraine via Hungarian territory, shortly after the parliamentary elections (see Blättchen 8/2022 for more details), Hungarian Foreign Minister Szijjártó summoned the Ukrainian ambassador and told her that it was time for the Ukrainian leadership to stop “insulting” Hungary and accept its policy of neutrality. In doing so, the government showed a level of national self-respect that other EU and NATO countries are currently failing to muster toward Kiev.
Comments on the Brussels oil compromise were contradictory. For example, the Irish Independent newspaper wrote, “A partial oil embargo is better than no embargo.” The Tagesschau, on the other hand, said, “Better no embargo than one like this.” In contrast, everyone seemed to agree that the sanctions policy, and now the oil embargo, “limits the financing of Putin’s war machine.” Even economists who work for the Green Party believe that a freeze on fossil fuel imports would severely limit Russia’s ability to continue the war. On the other hand, economist Paul Steinhardt stressed in the journal Makroskop under the headline “Green economic war fantasies” that this is not true from a purely technical point of view. A reduction in foreign exchange earnings would lead to Russian companies exporting oil and natural gas having less income in foreign currencies. The Russian state, however, pays domestically in rubles, which it can print itself, both to its state employees, including soldiers and officers, and for the weapons it buys from Russian companies.
Incidentally, Russia also produces the fuel for tanks and aircraft itself; the weapons systems of the Russian armed forces are also manufactured exclusively in the country. And the extent to which bottlenecks caused by microchips no longer supplied by the West caused restrictions that could not be compensated for by China remains pure Western conjecture.
But the basic assumption about the effects of economic warfare measures is also geopolitically incorrect. China, India and other southern states stand ready to buy additional Russian oil and gas. In the case of India, this is particularly obvious; it is already buying, in part because Russian oil has become cheaper on world markets due to Western sanctions policies. In May 2022, India received 24 million barrels of Russian crude, up from 7.2 million barrels in April and three million barrels in March. Indian purchases of about 28 million barrels are forecast for June 2022. The laws of capitalism cannot be outwitted even by the U.S. and the EU. Between Feb. 24 and May 26, India’s total goods imports from Russia rose to $6.4 billion, up from $1.99 billion in the same period last year.
University of St. Andrews India specialist Chris Ogden wrote that relations between India and Russia and the Soviet Union, respectively, have a long history dating back to the 1950s. Most importantly, he said, Indian foreign policy is premised on a “posthegemonic, post-Western, multipolar future” in which various great powers vie for influence. Indian policy, he said, contradicts the Western strategic assumption that the country would be “a natural part of a pro-democracy bloc” and exemplifies “a clear shift in the global balance of power to the disadvantage of Western powers.”
A major German newspaper recently printed a world map showing Ukraine and Russia in dark, the sanctions countries in red, and the “rest of the world” in yellow. Only the U.S., Canada and the EU were red, as well as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand on the eastern edge of the world map, and the rest of the world was yellow, i.e. the entire “global South.”
This also has immediate foreign policy consequences. In the March 2, 2022 UN General Assembly vote to condemn the Russian invasion, 141 states voted yes, five voted no, and 35 abstained, including China, India, Pakistan, and South Africa. However, when the UN General Assembly voted to expel Russia from the UN Human Rights Council a few weeks later on April 7, only 93 states voted yes, while 24 voted against and 58 abstained. Southern statesmen make no secret of their stance on the Ukraine war. “This is no longer a problem between NATO and Russia or between Ukraine and Russia, it’s a problem for the world,” Argentine President Alberto Fernández said during a joint appearance with Chancellor Olaf Scholz before the press in Berlin on May 11, 2022, ruling out sanctions by his country against Russia. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa also ostentatiously refused to call Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a war at the joint press conference on the occasion of Scholz’s official visit to Pretoria on May 24, 2022, and he criticized Western sanctions policies: “Even those countries that are bystanders or not part of the conflict at all will suffer from the sanctions imposed on Russia.”
Indian writer and essayist Pankaj Mishra stressed, “The antiquated Cold War model of thinking – democracy versus autocracy, as U.S. President Joe Biden says – is misleading. It gives the impression that there are only these two power blocs. In truth, the world is deeply interconnected. By punishing Russia, you are inadvertently punishing many other and poorer countries.” And he asked directly, “Have you thought all this through to the end?”
For the Southern world, it’s another “white man’s war” in the North.