After a slight de-escalation at the end of January, the tension between Russia and the collective West is growing again. The opposing parties have not reached their goals, and many threats have been made, which prevents the negotiation process from moving ahead in the future. The U.S. and the United Kingdom are making it clear that sanctions against Russia will be imposed regardless of whether Russia invades Ukraine. The EU echoes this view, although sluggishly and reluctantly. In the post-truth era, the Western media machine, which is superior to Russia’s media resource, is creating a reality in which the threat of invasion is equal to the invasion itself, thereby justifying any possible sanctions. This means the stakes are likely to rise, and the peak of geopolitical confrontation has yet to be reached.
Dialogue about security guarantees seems equally surreal. It is obvious that neither Ukraine nor Georgia will join NATO in the next decade. Additionally, military experts claim that the outcome of a potential military confrontation between nuclear powers is independent of how quickly it starts — unacceptable damage will be inflicted on all parties of the conflict. This means that the deployment of strike weapons in Ukraine or Georgia will be unpleasant for Russia, but even this will not change the balance of military power.
It is also obvious that Russia is not going to invade Ukraine — at least because no additional motives for an invasion have arisen since 2014. But if NATO does not plan to expand and Russia does not plan to invade, then what is the subject of such heated discussions, which are rattling Russian and world stock indexes and crushing Ukraine’s economy? If this is not about NATO or Ukraine, then what is it about?
The decline of the U.S.’ share of the global gross domestic product, from 50% after World War II to the current 24%, has long been inconsistent with American ambitions or influence on the world stage. This was irrelevant in the absence of geopolitical competition. China’s rapid rise and Russia’s distinct geopolitical claims have destroyed the established status quo. The Federal Reserve’s printing press, turned on in 2008 and pushed to its limits from 2020 to 2021, is rapidly eroding dollar hegemony in international settlements. Stagflation looms on the horizon, which will further reduce Washington’s influence on global economic processes.
China, America’s main economic competition, has accumulated its own problems. Crisis in the real estate sector is one of China’s many problems and is perhaps the most striking marker of the structural problems in China’s economy. Similar to residents of most post-Soviet countries, real estate is the main crisis haven and investment tool for Chinese people. In the context of the decline in the growth of the gross national product, the fact that real estate demand in China is falling, not rising, says a lot. In terms of the coming crisis, Russia’s economy can suffer significantly less than America’s or China’s, and in the long term, can become one of the main beneficiaries of the period of instability.
Strengthening the second military world power economically is the last thing the United States needs. All of this, of course, is described in very broad strokes. However, this is precisely what explains why the focus of U.S. foreign policy activity, which until recently has been centered on China, is now strongly driven toward Russia. Critically weakening Russia will simultaneously weaken both China and the EU, which Russia consistently supplies with important resources. Interfering with Russia is seen as the main way of maintaining world domination in the weakening hands of Washington. After all, in the emerging multipolar world, Washington’s weakness is not as obvious amid the weakening of other centers of influence.
The U.S. desperately needs a conflict in Europe and will be satisfied with a war in Ukraine and Russia’s entanglement there or with an energy collapse in the EU caused by gas supply disruptions from the Russian Federation. Despite Ukraine’s critical dependence on the U.S., Kyiv is well aware of what can happen in the event of an armed attempt to return lost Donbass territories. Considering this, representatives of the Ukrainian elite, albeit formed through the process of negative selection, are basically on a suicide mission. These attempts at self-destruction are likely to continue, but time is of the essence, which is why there is another play — gas. Statements made by European officials about the need to replace the Russian gas supply, which accounts for 40% of all gas imports, with alternative sources were unthinkable just yesterday, but today have become a reality.
It is difficult to imagine why Russia would stop exporting gas to Europe, but everything is possible. Disconnecting from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, imposing sanctions against state-owned companies, halting dollar and euro foreign exchange transactions for Russian citizens and companies made through correspondence accounts, blocking iOS and Android, coupled with personal sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin, followed by a severance of diplomatic relations, may easily provoke Moscow to respond in such a tough manner. Gazprom and Rosneft’s deals with Chinese state-owned companies signal to Europe that even in a critical situation, Russia has an alternative. Washington is convincing Brussels that Europe will not freeze with American liquefied gas, although at what price remains a secondary matter.
The EU is advancing its green agenda at all costs, which, alongside the information hysteria around Ukraine, may encourage the EU to make bad decisions. European economic and foreign policy are rapidly becoming irrational. Meanwhile, the U.S. is scrupulously plotting and preparing for a perfect storm on the European continent, which, like two world wars, is intended to make America great again at the expense of others.