Ukraine can win a war it did not start and force Russia, the aggressor, to bear international responsibility. This will be our common victory with all the democratic countries of the world. But so far fierce battles are raging on, as at Bakhmut, and Ukrainian heroes are dying. So far peaceful people are being killed – from Bucha, as in March last year, to Dnipro, as just in January.
Russia is actively preparing for the offensive, for revenge in the military campaign, in which it has not implemented any from their pre-invasion goals in almost a year. Last week the Russian Fuhrer made a number of statements regarding the Kremlin’s plans. Among his key messages there are: the war will be long and exhausting; human and financial costs are not important; the next wave of mobilization will be held, but likely in hidden manner; and there are more than enough money for the war.
According to the preliminary data of the World Bank, last year the GDP of Russia decreased by only 3.5%. It is obvious that in the long term sanctions will have a negative impact on the Russian economy, deprive it of its chances for modernization, and plunge it into a long recession. Sanctions have placed a ticking time bomb under Russia, gradually turning it into an orthodox Iran. But we need a quick explosive effect, the wave of which, if not destroy Putin, will at least certainly deprive him of the resources for a long war. Remember that while the world is waiting for the cumulative effect, the Russian death knell keeps eliminating Ukrainians. Sanctions are not the goal, but the instrument, and the goal is victory in the war and just peace.
From the gas station of Europe, Russia is becoming the gas station of China, but it still earns astronomical sums from the export of oil and gas. In the first months of the war oil and gas prices jumped and Moscow received $350 billion from energy trade alone!!! in a year. With such a treasure Russia can fight for as long as it wants and not only with Ukraine… Therefore, the task of the democratic world is to significantly reduce this income in the current year. Let’s not forget that it was the drop in oil prices that made the Soviet Union collapse. And before that it forced Gorbachov to withdraw Soviet troops from Afghanistan.
Only in December did the most powerful sanctioning measures come into effect, which is a price cap on Russian oil and an embargo on its supply by sea. The tenth package of EU sanctions should be ready by the anniversary of the Russian invasion. As announced, it will mainly focus on closing loopholes, ending sanctions evasion and introducing severe consequences for those who circumvent European Union sanctions. A valid point, but a more ambitious approach is needed. We insist on stronger sanctions, which together with the increase in arms supplies will force Putin to make peace already this year.
First. We expect the G7 to lower the price ceiling for Russian oil in March. It would be more appropriate to use the word “floor”. So far, the marginal price for Russian oil has turned out to be too positive – even higher than the market price.
Second. There is need for strictly controlled ban on transshipment of Russian oil and production of oil cocktails with its ingredients, including the punishment for hiding the country of origin, etc.
Third. The entry to the Suez Canal by Russian subject-to-sanctions export goods shall be blocked by every tool available in the international law. Including the energy cargoes that are not insured by insurance companies known for diligent compliance with the sanctions regime. Simply do not accept policies from unreliable insurance companies that are under the influence of Russia or its partners that do not comply with the sanctions regime. Perpetrators shall be stopped by the naval forces of NATO member states.
And then the Russians, via Vasco da Gama rout, will spend several times more time transporting oil to South Asia than doing it directly through the Suez Canal. Yes, this mechanism should provide for compensation for Egypt’s losses, which it would face due to the reduction of income from the termination of transit in the interests of Russia.
The fourth. Let’s move from Africa to the Arctic. Restrictions on Russian trade in liquefied gas should be strictly observed. We are grateful to equipment and technology suppliers like French Total, German Linde and Siemens, and Japanese Mitsui for stopping cooperation with the Arctic LNG2 project, as well as South Korean Daewoo Heavy that refused a tempting contract for 15 ice-class tankers.
Fifth. There is need to finally close ‘Druzhba’ oil pipeline down, and we need help in attaining the understanding of it with Hungary, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. It is absurd when the Russians destroy our infrastructure, and we still have to pump approximately 12 million tons of Russian oil! Based on the agreement with the partners, I have no doubts that Ukraine will stop both ‘Druzhba’ and our part of the GTS. The only reason why we still pump oil and gas is because we count on the opinion of those of our partners who still consume Russian energy resources.
Sixth. To deprive Russia of nearly ten billion dollars by means of prohibiting it the opportunity to provide uranium enrichment services and nuclear power plant construction. As a complicit in the crimes of the Russian military at the Chornobyl and Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plants, RosAtom deserves the strictest possible sanctions. Let’s not forget that Russia itself is blackmailing the whole world with nuclear weapons.
Seventh. At present, about half of the aggressor’s gold and currency reserves are blocked – more than three hundred billion dollars. Over $130 billion that are in gold shall go illiquid for sure. So it is not enough to ban buying gold in Russia. Any possibility of using it for pledge or in other way should be blocked. Russian gold is bloody gold, Russian diamonds are bloody diamonds, especially if you take into account the dirty business of the Wagner group in African countries.
According to forecasts, real restrictions in the oil and gas sector, if they become fully operational in 2023, will make Russian exports collapse from 530 to 300 billion dollars, while the steps we suggest would deprive Russia of another 30 billion dollars of export income.
Yet another task for the coming months would be to form an offensive potential sufficient to liberate Ukraine from invaders and discourage them from attacking other countries. It’s not just tanks that are being talked about these days, but ATACMS missiles, modern F16 fighter jets, and Apache attack helicopters.
Sanctions and weapons, weapons and sanctions – that is the best guarantees against Russian escalation, and what will secure our common victory and such a long-awaited peace.