The European Union is girding for a long war against Russia that appears clearly contrary to European economic interests and social stability. A war that is apparently irrational – as many are – has deep emotional roots and claims ideological justification. Such wars are hard to end because they extend outside the range of rationality. For decades after the Soviet Union entered Berlin and decisively defeated the Third Reich, Soviet leaders worried about the threat of “German revanchism.” Since World War II could be seen as German revenge for being deprived of victory in World War I, couldn’t aggressive German Drang nach Osten be **revived, especially if it enjoyed Anglo-American support?
When the Ukraine launched its Kherson 'counteroffensive' on August 29 I was pretty aghast and judged that it was destined to fail: To break the reinforced Russian lines now would have taken more troops than were available.I am sure that the Ukrainian military knew that this offensive would fail. For political reasons Zelenski ordered them to launch it anyway. There are now another 1,000+ Ukrainian and Russian lives lost for nothing other then some sensational headlines and political optics. More than 3,000 Ukrainians have died by now in the Kherson offensive without having made any significant progress. Hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles were lost. A dozen Ukrainian planes and helicopters have been shot down.
Athens, Greece – The blades of the wind turbines on the mountain range opposite my window are turning especially energetically today. Last night’s storm has abated but high winds continue, contributing extra kilowatts to the electricity grid at precisely zero additional cost (or marginal cost, in the language of the economists). But the people struggling to make ends meet during a dreadful cost-of-living crisis must pay for these kilowatts as if they were produced by the most expensive liquefied natural gas transported to Greece’s shores from Texas. This absurdity, which prevails well beyond Greece and Europe, must end.
The European Union has collectively committed itself to a long proxy conflict against Russia in Ukraine, despite being critically energy dependent on oil and gas imports from Russia. If however, you listened to the words of their top bureaucrats, such as Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, one might never believe there is any problem. They talk about reducing energy dependency on Moscow as a quick and painless process, and vowed multiple times to "cripple Putin's war machine," determined no matter what to return a "European path" to Ukraine. But things haven't been going to plan.
When Iran is reportedly considering the draft proposal for the revival of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the Iran nuclear deal is officially known, that Josep Borrell, European Union’s high representative of foreign affairs and security policy, submitted earlier this week, Brett McGurk, US President Joe Biden’s advisor on the Middle East, asserted on Wednesday, July 27, that revival of the deal is “highly unlikely.” According to a report in Axios on Wednesday, McGurk blamed Iran for stalling the finalization of the deal by asking the US to “add something to the pot” before accepting it. Without clarifying what he meant, he said that the US is not going to do such a thing and instead is planning to impose more sanctions on Iran in order to ensure its “diplomatic isolation.”
In the latest attempt to use the courts to address the climate crisis, five young people are suing 12 EU countries over membership in a treaty that they argue puts the needs of fossil fuel companies above climate action. The young people brought their case before the European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday, as Euractiv reported. The lawsuit targets the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), which gives energy companies the right to sue governments for compensation when their policies threaten profits. “Governments are still putting profits of the fossil fuel industry over human rights. But climate change is escalating and demanding more and more lives every day,” a plaintiff named Julia, who is 17, said in a statement reported by Reuters.
A group of 10 Extinction Rebellion climate activists on Monday glued themselves to the entrance doors of the European Commission's Berlaymont building in Brussels. Around 25 activists in total, coming from Germany, Austria, France, the Netherlands and Italy among others, were present to call on the EU to do more against environmental damage and to criminalize ecocide — the deliberate and systematic destruction of ecosystems. "We want [EU countries] to criminalize ecocide and the Commission could start doing that," said Amelie, a member of Extinction Rebellion Berlin, while her hand was glued to the Commission's building. "We don't have time to wait because biodiversity loss is going on and on ... we need to start acting."
On Tuesday, after a year and a half of negotiations over an intellectual property waiver for Covid-related products, the United States, European Union, India and South Africa reportedly reached agreement on a temporary waiver of patent rules for Covid vaccines. “The difficult and protracted process has resulted in a compromise outcome that offers the most promising path toward achieving a concrete and meaningful outcome,” said U.S. Trade Representative spokesperson Adam Hodge in a statement. Global health activists, however, are slamming the tentative deal as not only insufficient, but a potential setback, because it excludes tests and treatments, includes a carveout for China, and introduces new barriers for the production of generic treatments that could have implications far beyond the Covid crisis.
The global capitalist economy today is highly integrated: In the flow of real goods and services; in money capital flows between financial markets; in currency relative exchange rates; and in banking systems and interest rates—to name but the most obvious. The Ukraine war’s economic consequences will impact all the three economies—Russia’s, Europe’s and America’s. The impacts may be relatively different qualitatively and quantitatively. But actions taken against one have their inevitable economic reverberations on all. Inflation due to escalating oil and commodity price inflation will negatively impact all. Central bank policy responses will be weaker across the board. Slower economic growth will result as goods and services flows are interrupted and global supply chain problems continue and perhaps even worsen.
The Black Alliance for Peace emphatically declares that the conflict in the Ukraine emerges from the ceaseless and single-minded drive of the U.S., NATO, and the European Union for global economic and political dominance. The genesis of the current crisis, as BAP has previously asserted, is in the 2014 US-backed coup of Ukraine’s democratically elected government – and in the determination of the U.S./EU/NATO “axis of domination” to convert Ukraine into a heavily-militarized NATO member nation, lurking on the border of the Russian Federation. NATO’s expansion has been a well-known security concern for Russia since 1999, when Bill Clinton inaugurated the official process of growing NATO’s membership to include former nations of the Warsaw Pact.
In a major development crucial for peace in the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, both the parties started negotiations in Gomel in Belarus, near the Ukrainian and Russian, borders on Monday, February 28. The delegates of the two countries reached Gomel early after initial hiccups regarding the venue of the talks. A Russian delegation consisting of “representatives of foreign ministry, the defense ministry and other agencies, including the presidential administration” arrived to Belarus according to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Preskov, Russian news agency TASS reported. Ukraine claimed it is seeking immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian troops in the talks. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a phone conversation with UK prime minister Boris Johnson claimed that the next 24 hours are crucial for the war.
Brussels - Marking the World Day of Social Justice on February 20 a coalition of more than 100 civil society organizations, has launched a European Citizens Initiative (ECI) to stop trade with illegal settlements in occupied territories. An ECI is an official instrument for democratic participation of citizens in EU policy making. If an ECI garners one million signatures from EU citizens over 12 months the European Commission must consider and debate the petition’s demands. This ECI demands EU legislation that will outlaw trade with illegal settlements, anywhere and at all times, including trade with Israel’s illegal settlements in occupied Palestine.
As the summit between the African Union and European Union (EU-AU summit) came to a close on February 18, the EU’s dedication to ensuring equitable access to Covid-19 products remained murky. While Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, stated that the two unions had a very constructive discussion on the TRIPS waiver, the meeting resulted in little more than a tepid statement and a new deadline for reaching an agreement on intellectual property rights during the pandemic. Von der Leyen also stated, “We share the same goal. We have different ways to reach that goal.” In reality, it would seem the AU and the EU have very different goals. While delegates from different African countries made a point of supporting a suspension of intellectual property rights on key Covid-19 products, EU politicians continue to focus their energies on postponing the TRIPS waiver as much as possible and protecting the profits of pharmaceutical companies based in the Global North.
Amid escalating tensions between the United States, NATO and Russia, all eyes are on Ukraine. Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland describes it as “a struggle between democracy and authoritarianism.” But Nord Stream 2, a pipeline built to bring Russian gas under the Baltic Sea directly to Germany, is an integral part of the story. On January 27, US Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, asserted, “If Russia invades Ukraine one way or another … we will work with Germany to ensure it [the pipeline] does not move forward.” Delayed by US threats and sanctions, Nord Stream 2 highlights why countries are challenging the leadership of the Biden administration. Since the 1960s when Europe first began importing Russian gas, Washington perceived Russian energy as a threat to US leadership and Europe’s energy security.
The United States and the European Union announced new sanctions on the day that Daniel Ortega was inaugurated as president of Nicaragua. The move was not surprising, given that the United States congress passed the RENACER Act one week before elections which were held on November 7. The people of Nicaragua have acted in defiance of the United States ever since the 1979 revolution. First, Ronald Reagan used reactionary forces, the Contras, as proxies in an attempt to destroy the new government. The Reagan administration mined Nicaragua’s harbors and fomented a war which cost an estimated 30,000 lives. The United States still owes Nicaragua $17 billion in compensation for the damage it created decades ago.