Ambassador of Russia to South Africa Ilya Rogachev
In December 2023, the EU started to design the 13th and the 14th packages of sanctions against Russia. With almost 19 000 separate sanction measures by the collective West already in place against it, Russia has become the world’s most sanctioned country ever.
We treat sanctions as a sort of “levy”, the price our country has to pay to remain sovereign in today’s Western-dominated world (as the true multipolarity is yet to come into being).
Russia has repeatedly pointed out that actions by the US and its allies to impose unilateral illegal sanctions bypassing the UN Security Council intended to persecute and suppress undesirable governments around the world, are openly neo-colonial in nature.
Western dominance is coming to an end. BRICS (excluding the newly joined nations), has already overtaken G7 by making up a larger share of the global GDP based on purchasing power parity (according to European experts, it contributes 31.5% of the world’s GDP vs 30.7% added by G7).
Under these conditions, illegal unilateral restrictions are utilised by the West as a tool to preserve its fading hegemony. In the “rules-based world order” pushed by the US and its satellites, sovereign equality of states has no place: there’s a “neo-metropole” represented by the collective West and “neo-colonies” – essentially the rest of the world.
Principles of free market, fair trade and competition, or inviolability of private property are only applicable to the neo-metropole, while trade preferences are provided and sanctions are imposed depending on political loyalty to it. Independent states are subjected to pressure and forced to economically self-isolate from the outer world.
That policy won’t work for Russia. As President (Vladimir) Putin said: “Without sovereignty, Russia would cease to exist, at least in the form it exists today and has existed for a thousand years.”
When special military operation in Ukraine was started to eliminate threats resulting from NATO hostile policies, 12 packages of sanctions, implemented one after another, hit our country. They affected Russian officials and authorities, banks and industry, companies and think tanks. Russian financial institutions were disconnected from SWIFT, Western payment systems Visa and Mastercard were suspended in Russia.
Collective West declared equipment embargoes, introduced price cap for Russian crude, imposed restrictions on freight and insurance. The US and its allies froze Russian state assets for billions of US dollars, in a number of cases private property owned by Russian nationals was confiscated.
In brief, the West trumped all possible liberal-democratic tenets it had been advancing and even imposing on others for centuries.
Europe significantly reduced consumption of pipeline gas from Russia. Yes, it was not Russia which cut supplies, as the mainstream media insist, but the West itself which did it with its own hands.
First, a turbine belonging to Gazprom was not returned by Canada, and that precluded modernisation of a pipeline. Then certification of the Nord Stream was put on hold by Germany.
Then some European states refused to pay roubles for the gas (move by Russia in response to freezing Russian sovereign assets, nominated in Western currencies) and terminated their long-term agreements with Gazprom.
Eventually, to make sure Europe won’t return to Russian supplies, Nord Stream pipelines were sabotaged (according to US veteran journalist Seymour Hersh, by US special services) – just as President (Joe) Biden promised during a joint press conference with Chancellor (Olaf) Scholz on Feb 7, 2022.
What we witness today as a result is Europe in part still buying Russian pipeline gas directly from Russia, in part purchasing the same Russian gas but from the third parties and with extra charge, and in part buying the US- and Russia-produced LNG. However, for 20 months since Feb 2022 Europe paid for the above €185 billion more than before sanctions came up.
Apropos, gas prices became jittery well before the special military operation in Ukraine: already in Sept 2021 we witnessed price hikes at European markets.
The main beneficiary of this entire situation turned out to be the USA which wasn’t thinking of restraining gas prices for its allies in Europe, but was definitely thinking of how to profit (and made extra €53 billion on that).
Europe could adapt itself to the new conditions, albeit predominantly because of reduced energy consumption (a clear sign of de-industrialisation). Germany, once the economic powerhouse of Europe, went into recession, decrease of the national GDP in 2023 is expected to reach 0,5%.
For several months in a row, industrial production volumes have been shrinking, while the number of corporate bankruptcies (have been) steadily increasing. Hi-tech and energy-consuming industries tend to relocate to the US, along with highly-skilled professionals.
Germany’s stance with regard to its economy was best characterised by a prominent US journalist Tucker Carlson in Jimmy Dore show: “It’s like some dude is in the process of raping your wife, but you are too embarrassed to mention it.”
Let’s look into the quagmire in the global food market, too. Russia is blamed for the looming global famine because of the increasing food and fertiliser prices, allegedly arising from Russia’s ongoing special military operation.
Yet, international experts recognise skews in global economy, blunders in macroeconomic, energy and food policies of major Western countries as the root causes of the global food inflation, which anti-Russian sanctions policy only exacerbated.
Among other factors are volatile gas prices, which account for up to 80% of ultimate fertiliser production costs, forced “green energy transition” and underinvestment in the oil-and-gas industry in the West altogether affecting fuel prices.
Again, who benefits from soaring food prices and destabilisation of supplies? The so-called “Big Four,” with Archer Daniels Midland (USA), Bunge (USA), Cargill (USA) and Louis Dreyfus (Netherlands) which account for up to 90% of global agricultural trade turnover. In 2022, Cargill alone increased its revenue to $165 billion and recorded a net profit of $5 billion.
Subsidiaries of the said companies in Ukraine significantly contributed to improving their performance in recent years. The “Big Four”, as well as US chemical giants Monsanto and DuPont own, directly or via affiliated organisations, 17 out of 32 million hectares of farmlands in Ukraine. Which makes it perfectly obvious why the West is frantically pushing for resumption of the “grain deal”.
Russia could escape extensive damage to its economy due to sound macroeconomic and monetary measures and, of course, the unprecedented consolidation of our society. In Q2-Q3 of 2023, Russia’s GDP fully compensated for the decline in 2022. In August and September, GDP grew 5.2% monthly, and is expected to grow by 3.5% in 2023.
We have no illusions that Western sanctions against our country will be lifted in five years, or any time later (for the reasons indicated above). They will further tighten export control, and clamp down on third parties unwilling to pursue the sanctions.
Collective West’s arrogance, colonial habits and lack of consideration towards interests of other countries and peoples aren’t gone, and they will continue to dominate Western foreign policies in the nearest future.
According to objective laws governing the economy, the collective West and its people, as well as the world’s poorest countries, will further face consequences of the sanctions frenzy.
Full responsibility for that lies squarely with the Western elites ready to sacrifice the rest of the world for the sake of preserving their global dominance and, hence, wellbeing.
It must be understood: today Russia, tomorrow it can be any other nation the “neo-metropole” is dissatisfied with. The only way to tackle these risks is complete de-colonisation.
* This is a cut version of the article, full text of which is available on www.iol.co.za.