By Giovanni Giacalone
The "war of sanctions" carried out by the US and the EU has reached a new ridiculous level; it is unbelievable how the European Union, in order to please Obama's desperate needs for war, is willing to put at stake the important commercial and cultural relations with the Russian Federation, with the consequence of damaging the economy and the employment situation of various EU member states.
A commission of the EU has examined and launched a document with the proposals of new sanctions against Russia; the text will be examined by the ambassadors of 28 Member states who will then decide on its potential implementation.
In the meantime the European chancellery and NATO continue in their systematic strategy of tension and provocation by increasing the number of soldiers and aircrafts in Eastern Europe, by sending naval units to the Black Sea and by announcing the creation of a task force that includes military personnel from different countries, including the UK, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Canada.
On September 2nd Nato launched a military drill that involved several state-members including Germany, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Italy). In addition 200 US soldiers from the 173rd airborne brigade stationed in Vicenza will take part in a military drill, named "Rapid Trident", planned for mid-September in Lviv, Ukraine.
The US had also accused pro-Russia militants of shooting down Malaysian Airlines flight 17, claiming to have "clear evidence" about their responsibility. Although facts seem to be going the opposite way, in fact while the Kremlin has presented proofs on the potential responsibility of Ukrainian forces, the American evidence is still lacking.
Obama is losing ground in Ukraine
The strong resistance of the Russian population in eastern Ukraine has hugely slowed down the advance of Kiev's army and their allied contractors, inflicting heavy damage upon them. The defection of some Ukrainian commanders who are now on the pro-Russian militias' side, the surrender of different Ukrainian units that were surrounded in the Novoazovsk area and the increasing refusal among the Ukrainian youth to fight for Kiev has generated a hysterical reaction on behalf of the United States with a consequent acceleration of the crisis.
Obama is now emphasizing his "will to strengthen relations" with Estonia and with other Eastern European countries and claiming that the US will respect their treaty commitments"; Poland, Estonia and other Baltic countries are asking NATO to place troops along the borders with Russia, violating several existing treaties such as the 1997 Nato-Russia Founding Act that forbids new NATO troops deployment in Eastern Europe.
In the meantime Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini, who is taking up the role of EU foreign policy chief, claimed that Russia has full responsibility for not being a relevant economic partner anymore. According to Mogherini it would be in EU's interests to find the conditions for partnership but it is now not possible. 1
The importance of Russia/EU relations
Now, this is a very arguable and sensitive point for Europe. Mogherini's statement clearly shows how she is aware of the importance of Russia-EU relations and especially for Italy, which is suffering from an unprecedented and serious economic crisis.
Italy has strong cultural and economic ties with Russia; many Italian companies rely on export to Russia and the sanctions will seriously damage the Italian economy as many companies will have to cut on production, which means more unemployment.
The exports of Italian agro-industrial products in Russia, even throughout this period of tensions, still increased of one percent in the first four months of 2014. The Italian farmer association claimed that, according to the data on 2013 export, 72 million Euros worth fruits and vegetables are now at stake because of the sanctions; in addition 50 million Euros in pasta and 61 millions in meat; plus, more than 16% of Italian sales to Russia are on wines.
According to SACE's Office for Economic Studies, the Italian export will be negatively influenced by the new sanctions, with a potential decrease of the "Made in Italy" export to Russia in 2014-15 that could be included between 0.9 and 2.4 billion Euros. Another area that will strongly be affected is the mechanical industry, with a potential loss of export up to 0.5 and 1.0 billion Euros in 2014-15.
The Italian Government so far hasn't been able to face the high unemployment and in August it registered its first annual fall in consumer prices to the point that statistics bureau ISTAT said on Friday that deflation would deepen in coming months.
An Italian businessman who asked to remain anonymous explained how the situation is critical. His company is one of the few that managed to somehow survive the heavy economic crisis, but the sanctions will severely damage his export to Russia, which means that the company will not be able to pay the salaries for its 60 workers with the consequent loss of employment for at least half of them. The sanctions will destroy the lives of thousands of entrepreneurs and workers.
The sanctions will also damage other European countries, as Moscow provides Europe with 32% of its energetic needs and it absorbs more than 7% of its exports. The situation is well explained by Center for Research on Globalization:
"several hundred thousand German industrial jobs are at risk; imports of Russian oil and gas are in danger; large-scale, long-term German investments and lucrative export markets are at stake. These fears and uncertainties have led to declining investment and an unprecedented negative growth of 0.2% in the German economy in the second quarter of 2014. The recession in Germany ripples throughout Europe - especially affecting Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Southern Europe.
France has entered a period of perpetual regression: unemployment exceeds 11%, underemployment and 'make work' exceeds 20%. Austerity, involving large-scale cuts in social programs and tax write-offs for business, has eroded consumer spending without increasing capitalist investment.
Deeply buried in a near decade-long depression with unemployment ranging from 26% in Greece and Spain to 16% in Portugal, Russia's reciprocal sanctions against agricultural exports has hit their agro-export sectors most severely, causing mountains of grapes, tomatoes and other perishables to rot in the fields. Tons of Southern Europe's produce will end up as compost. Tens of thousands of farmers face even greater problems and more will be forced into bankruptcy because of Washington's dictates." 2
A matter of legitimacy
Although it seems in Obama's best interests to weaken the various European countries and to damage the relations between the EU and the Russian Federation now that in the United States the salaries are decreasing, poverty is on the rise, public debt is high and the racial clashes in Missouri only contribute to make things worse. On the other hand Russia is in full economic expansion, increasing its influence on international level and especially in the Middle East. The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) are quickly growing and building an alternative option to the Western model that would challenge institutions like the IMF, the World Bank, and the G7 in coming decades.
It is evident that the EU is not doing the interests of its own people but rather of Obama and by doing this the European leaders are actually damaging their own people. At this point it is worth asking if these leaders, by going against the interests of their own people, are actually legitimate. Can the Europeans be represented by a class of politicians that pursue the interests of Obama rather than their own population and who are willing to cause a war? Because that's what sanctions are all about. The issue has now become a matter of legitimacy.
As many as 17 foreign countries owe Russia a total of $27 billion with Belarus, Ukraine and Venezuela being the largest debtors