As Russia’s special military operation (SMO) in Ukraine reaches its six-month mark, so does Russia’s status as the most heavily sanctioned country on earth. The US regime and its European sidekicks are very much used to strangling ‘disobedient’ nations’ civilian populations with murderous economic sieges aimed at causing so much human suffering that the people’s resolve is broken and they consent to giving up their country to US imperialist domination.
This tried-and-tested strategy, although so far largely unsuccessful at actually unseating many ‘disobedient’ governments, has been brutally effective at crippling economies and causing tens of thousands of excess deaths in many countries, including Iran, Syria, Venezuela and the DPR Korea. Six months ago, in response to Russia’s SMO, the western imperialist bloc decided to make an enormous gamble by attempting the same routine against Russia.
The problem for the imperialists is that Russia is not Venezuela or Iran. It is not a small or medium-sized nation reliant on imports and trade with the west or western-aligned nations. It is the largest country in the world by landmass, an economic powerhouse that has a huge trade surplus. Russia exports far more than it imports and produces most of what it needs domestically; a surviving achievement from its former socialist days as the leading republic of the old Soviet Union.
Hence, we see today the embarrassing spectacle of the imperialists beginning to row back their sanctions, albeit as quietly as possible to avoid losing face.
For example, officially speaking, Russian food and fertiliser exports have “never been included” in the sanctions. In actual fact, this was deliberately kept as an ambiguous grey area so as to frighten others into not trading in these items whilst maintaining a show of ‘humanitarianism’ in the face of the huge civilian hardship that would be caused by cutting these vital commodities off from the world.
Such a policy is well-known to Iranians, for whom trade in lifesaving medicines and critical hospital supplies under western sanctions has long been very much a “well technically yes, but actually no” situation.
Now, however, food and fertiliser from Russia have been given a clear green light from the European Union. A similar reversal has taken place on the question of Russian oil, where Britain’s previous policy of banning insurance for any Russian oil tanker (no matter where it was heading) has been watered down to only prohibiting insurance for Russian tankers destined for Britain.
It is clear that the western imperialists, in particular the EU nations, severely underestimated the impact that sanctioning Russia would have on their own supply chains and corporations. Whilst the above moves suggest they are making some efforts to get runaway inflation and energy price spikes under control, European leaders show no signs of readiness to end their Ukrainian proxy war with Russia.
They still clearly hope that they are in with a chance of replacing President Putin’s anti-imperialist government with a submissive US-controlled client regime – one like the Zelensky regime in Ukraine, presumably.
The contradiction in this have-your-cake-and-eat-it policy suggests that European workers still face very difficult times ahead. As soaring fuel bills look likely to push millions into poverty, the class war that has lain relatively dormant in the west for the past half-century is bound to intensify once more.
The questions of socialism and proletarian revolution, so long forgotten or ridiculed as relics of a bygone era, will once again come to the fore.