Doctor of Historical Sciences,
Member of the CC of the CPRF
In recent weeks, the world has been discussing US and EU sanctions against Russia. The sanctions are really impressive. These include a ban on the export of high-tech products to Russia, on flights to Europe and the United States by Russian airlines, sanctions against hundreds of politicians, dozens of banks and large industrial enterprises, the withdrawal from Russia of hundreds of Western campaigns, tough restrictions in monetary and financial spheres. Pres Biden proudly declared that these are the toughest sanctions in the history of mankind.
Two key questions are whether these measures will achieve the aims for which they are being introduced, and what impact they will have on the Western countries themselves. After all, the real goal of the United States and its allies is not to stop Russia’s military operation against the Nazi regime in Ukraine, but to overthrow President Putin and suppress Russia – the historical rival of the West – to the status of a raw material appendage of Western economies. The idea is old. After all, the United States provoked Russia’s actions in Ukraine, for many years turning this country into a base for aggression against Russia, completely refusing to recognize Russia’s concern about the security of its borders.
With all the weight of sanctions, it should be understood that they can be quite effective only against a small country that does not have strong, reliable allies. However, in this case we are talking about a state occupying a seventh part of the earth’s land, possessing a significant part of the world’s natural resources, with a large and highly educated population, considerable industrial potential and powerful science. We are talking about a nation that has been fighting for survival for almost its entire centuries-old history and constantly winning in this struggle, and also has allies who represent more than half of humanity and play the leading role in the world economy.
The plan of the boycott organizers is to cause such discontent among the Russian population that they will refuse to support the current government and will seek its change. Of course, sanctions have a very negative effect. A lot of people are losing jobs, business conditions are deteriorating, prices for basic goods are rising sharply, inflation at the end of the year will be about 20%.
However, the people understand with an inner instinct that we have been under pressure from the West for too long, that we are being surrounded by a ring of hostile countries and NATO bases, that the military threat is becoming quite real. And when it became clear that Ukraine, under the rule of outspoken Nazis and Russophobes, was also becoming a springboard for aggression against Russia, the people as a whole understood the need for an operation aimed among other things at protection of the Russian population of Donbass. Moreover that Donbass historically has never been part of Ukraine. These are purely Russian lands, incorporated into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1922 to strengthen its industrial potential. Now, in fact, we are talking about Ukraine returning back to Russia the lands it received in completely different historical conditions. So one can hardly expect that the natural discontent of people with a decrease in their standard of living will bring them to the streets.
The West’s hopes that sanctions against the oligarchs will encourage them to start a fight against Putin are also illusory. Oligarchs no longer play a leading role in the political life of Russia. Most of them have left the country long ago and are trying their best to integrate into Western society. For them, Russia is just a source of super-profits. The oligarchs themselves are universally disliked in Russian society, as robbers who seized public property after 1991. So they will not be able to create and lead any protest movement.
Public opinion leaders from among cultural figures split. The pro-Western stars of show business have gone abroad, where they have long acquired luxury villas. The patriotic part of the intelligentsia supports Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Thus, there is currently no potential in society for the development of the protest movement that the organizers of the sanctions are trying to provoke.
Will Putin himself make concessions under pressure from the West? No, he won’t! Russia has too sad an experience of concessions. In Chechnya in 1993-99, in Georgia in 2008, in Syria in 2014-2018, as soon as Russia began successful military operations, the West immediately demanded a ceasefire, ostensibly to avoid bloodshed and sit down at the negotiating table. But we were deceived every time: the negotiations did not lead to anything, and the opponents of the Russian army fully used the respite to regain strength and continue fighting. Putin has been burned so many times by the treachery of Western partners that he has developed a strong distrust of the “peace-loving” initiatives of the West. He is determined to finish the job this time. Moreover, the demands of the Russian side to Kiev and their Western sponsors are very moderate: to guarantee the neutrality of Ukraine and the independence of Donbass.
Meanwhile, I am convinced that, despite very serious difficulties, sanctions will have a very positive effect for Russia. I have always insisted on that since 2014, when they were first introduced after the return of Crimea to Russia. The fact is that after 1991, the pro-Western forces that seized power in our country turned it into a raw material colony of the West. The idea was imposed on us that it is enough for Russia to extract and sell oil and gas, and everything else can be bought abroad. At the same time, the West superficially demonstrated the utmost friendliness. Since the West has tried many times to defeat Russia in a direct confrontation and has always been defeated, it was decided to strangle her in a “friendly” embrace. I call it Operation Anaconda. Under this pernicious concept, Russia’s powerful manufacturing industry was thoroughly destroyed.
The imposition of sanctions means that Russia must fight for economic independence. And this is nothing new for us. Since 1917 Bolshevik revolution Soviet Russia was at first completely isolated, and then it was constantly subjected to various sanctions. But, despite this, by the mid-1980s, the USSR had become the second economy in the world. The Soviet Union was able to produce absolutely everything: from school notebooks to spaceships and giant nuclear missile submarines.
Then there was the coup d’etat of 1991 and the change of the development model, which actually turned out to be a model of total degradation. Now Russia, until recently a great aviation power that built about a thousand planes and helicopters a year, flies exclusively on Boeing and Airbus. But now that the West, abandoning the “friendly” strangulation of Russia, again tries to force it into isolation, there is a historical need to change the model. This time in the opposite direction: from degradation to development. This process has already begun. Moreover, the government itself, which until recently has firmly followed the concept of “sell oil – buy computers”, is now vigorously engaged in reducing economic dependence on the West.
We have everything for success in this business: a huge intellectual and industrial potential, partially preserved since the Soviet era, and giant natural resources. Now, under the conditions of sanctions, the Russian authorities simply have no other way out than to revive our own science and technology.
The process of reviving economic independence is not fast. But the West will persist in its hostility, making the process of restoring the self-sufficiency of the Russian economy irrevocable. Decisions have already been made, for example, on the resumption of mass production of Tu-214 and Il-96 aircraft, which are in no way inferior to the Boeing 737 and the A-320 Airbus. The West has imposed sanctions in the field of aviation, in response they will receive a revival of the Russian aviation industry and a potential powerful competitor in the civil aviation market. So in Russia tectonic shifts in the economy are beginning against the background of sanctions. It is still too early to predict their final result. But there will be no return to the semi-colonial model by which Russia has lived for the last 30 years.
At the same time, it should be understood that sanctions are a double–edged weapon. Trade and economic relations with Russia brought huge profits to Western countries. The flight of capital from Russia after 1991 amounted to over one trillion dollars. Simply put, Russia was the object of a gigantic robbery by the West. Now this unnatural situation is coming to an end. According to preliminary data, the losses of Western firms from sanctions will amount to $ 250 billion. Western countries have frozen the assets of the Central Bank of Russia for $ 300 billion. Russia responded by freezing payments to foreign partners for the same amount.
Russia is a huge market for Western goods. Our trade turnover with the EU amounts to $250 billion a year. And with the USA – 23 billion. By imposing sanctions, the West is losing this market. Therefore, Western entrepreneurs, submitting to political pressure and declaring their withdrawal from Russia, are looking for a variety of loopholes to stay or quickly return.
Europe and the USA are very dependent on Russian energy supplies. Even the threat of a reduction in these supplies immediately led to an increase in world oil prices to $ 120 per barrel and to $ 1,200 – $1,500 per thousand cubic meters of gas. The dependence of a number of EU countries on Russian gas is from 50 to 85%. Europe’s gas storage facilities are almost empty. Up to 40% of enterprises producing nitrogen fertilizers have stopped. Demonstrations of cargo carriers are raging in Europe, suffering from a sharp rise in gasoline and diesel fuel prices.
The only beneficiary of the conflict in Ukraine is the United States. Or rather, the financial-speculative and military-industrial complex, as well as companies producing shale gas. By the way, Pres Biden’s family has a personal interest in the reserves of this gas in Eastern Ukraine. But not all of America is delighted. In the US, which produces and exports oil, the rise in gasoline prices has broken historical records. The US has light oils that, when refined, produce a lot of gasoline, but little diesel fuel obtained from heavy oil. And its largest producers are Iran, Venezuela and … Russia. Therefore, America is feverishly trying to restore relations with its worst enemies – Tehran and Caracas.
Russia and Ukraine are the largest wheat producers in the world. Under the conditions of hostilities, the grain harvest this year may be significantly lower than usual. Hence the inevitable rise in world food prices. And this, together with rising energy prices, means that almost the entire world is becoming a victim of American policy.
The West will not be able to achieve its political goals by imposing sanctions against Russia. But the destabilisation of the European, and indeed the world economy, is a very real scenario. And one of the consequences of these sanctions may be the destruction of the monopoly of the dollar, as well as American hegemony in the political, economic and technological spheres. An attempt to boycott Russia could speed up this process dramatically. President Putin has decided to sell gas only for rubles. This is the strongest blow to the dollar. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind!