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Oscar Silva-Valladares

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Energy: The Last Frontier of the Ukraine War


The Ukraine war has intensified the old energy conflict between Russia and the US. The ultimate result of this struggle is uncertain but US main allies, i.e., Europe, are not expected to perform well.

Fossil fuels (coal, crude oil and natural gas) are the main sources of world energy providing 80 percent of the world’s consumption. In Europe, and despite long-dated political, social and media initiatives in favour of green energy, in 2021 fossil fuels sourced 70.6 percent of total energy consumption and renewables only 12.3 percent, the latter an unremarkable feet as green promotion started in the late 1970s. Historically Europe has relied on Russian fuels and as of May 2022 Russian oil imports represented 23.7 percent and 16.1 percent of OECD Europe’s oil demand and total imports, respectively, whereas in 2021 Russian gas equaled 71.7 percent of Europe’s total gas pipeline imports and 49 percent of total gas imports, respectively.

Reflecting a deep structural transformation in economic clout, the balance of power in the world energy markets has changed in the last decades to the West’s detriment. In 2021, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) energy production was 37.9 percent of the world’s total against 21.6 percent by the G7 and 4 percent by the European Union (EU), and the BRICS energy consumption was 40.1 percent of the world’s total against 25 percent by the G7 and 9.4 percent by the EU. Meanwhile, the energy weight of the US and Russia is backed by both having the world’s highest levels of fossil fuel reserves – each about 14 percent of world’s total in 2020 – and producing 15.9 percent and 11.8 percent of the world’s total energy, respectively.
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Europe’s Ultimate Choices on Ukraine


As the Ukraine conflict continues, a basic question with ethical dimensions has risen and will need to be answered soon by European politicians: how moral it is to support Ukraine “as long as it takes” against the necessity of protecting your own citizens’ welfare and the constitutional duty to follow your people’s mandate which is the basic rule of democracy?

European unclenched and blind support for US policies in the Ukraine conflict, and the dire economic and political consequences it has unleashed, is bringing the continent’s political architecture to a defining moment which may only be resolved through the end of the European Union (EU) regime and the emergence of a new and still undefined new political settlement.

Betting on Russia’s defeat and Vladimir Putin’s demise, the EU has followed the US-led economic war against Russia via sanctions which now far outnumber those directed against any other country on earth but nevertheless have failed. On the other hand, beyond the adverse impact on consumers and small/medium businesses caused by rising energy bills, general inflation, and the prospects of serious heating scarcity this winter, EU’s sanctions against Russia are causing irreparable damage to the continent’s economy.
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Vladimir Putin’s Battle Cry Against the Deep State


The recent ceremony of accession of four Ukrainian regions to Russia brought a speech from President Putin that outlined the reasons behind Russia’s current struggles, the character and identify of its foes and, more importantly, laid the groundwork for Russia’s next level of confrontation with the West beyond the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine.  In his speech, Putin clearly defined the present fight as a worldwide battle in which Russia plays a leading role against the Deep State that ultimately runs the West and which uses all available tools - including military, economic, cultural, and social – in its attempt to preserve unipolar world domination.
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Ideology over Economics: the Case of Lithuania


Nowadays, political dogma trampling economic pragmatism drives European government action as shown by the imposition of Green Party ideology on Germany’s energy policy risking the deindustrialization of Europe’s leading economy.

Another case is the conflict started by the Lithuanian government against China, illustrated by the Baltic country’s decision last year to open a “Taiwanese representative office”, an event that prompted the Chinese government to downgrade state relations, an extraordinary episode on the 32 year-long diplomatic history between both countries.

As is known, the Chinese government firmly believes that having a “Taiwanese” representative office in a foreign country can be construed as giving sovereign acknowledgement to the Taipei government against the one-China policy accepted by most of the international community. Only a few countries - most of them small Central American, Caribbean, and Micronesian states - have diplomatic relations with Taipei and certainly no European state has given such recognition. The European Union (EU) hosts a liaison bureau with the name of Taipei instead of Taiwan, in line with international consensus. When Lithuania established diplomatic relations with China in 1991 it undertook not to establish official relations or engage in official contacts with Taiwan, effectively accepting the one-China policy.

Lithuania’s recent decision risks a conflict with the world’s largest economy and has no commercial justification. During the 2004-2020 period Lithuania’s exports to China were €1.6 billion, whereas to Taiwan only 10% of this value, and their annual growth has exceeded Taiwan’s.  During this term, Lithuanian imports from China were €13.3 billion against €1 billion from Taiwan and grew at twice the Taiwanese rate.
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The Emperor has no Clothes: US Strategy for Africa


The US government recently disclosed its latest strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa. The document, while not showing surprises or changes from previous policy permutations, is eloquent on the US real priorities in the continent. For the US, its geopolitical agenda based on unipolar world hegemony is far more important that the issues that really matter Africa and that would allow a viable strategic partnership, namely economic prosperity and political stability. The pecking order of US goals is self-evident while reading the paper, with the fostering of “open societies” and delivering “democratic and security dividends” taking priority over mundane matters such as health, economic recovery and environmental protection.

To understand what promoting open societies and democracy really means for the US, and notwithstanding the passage of time, NATO’s origins and its former support of the Portuguese colonial wars in Africa is a valid starting point. NATO’s 1949 treaty preamble expressed its member states’ intention to ‘safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law’. With US backing Portugal, a NATO founding member, successfully blocked efforts of some Nordic member countries to confront its repressive colonial policies in the early 1970s. Under US leadership, NATO had no qualms dismissing its idealistic preamble by supporting the Estado Novo regime in Portugal, a straight residue of Europe’s fascist era. In the context of the Cold War, the Nixon administration did not shy away from considering Portuguese dominance of its colonies as a stabilising force in the region.

Back to 2022, it is ominous how the new US strategy document quotes Freedom House - a Washington based US government funded organization – on its assertion that only eight Sub-Saharan Africa countries are nowadays to be considered free. If this is the case and given that “fostering freer societies” is the main US goal in Africa, it then perhaps appears inevitable that the US will need to confront or even subvert the remaining 42 African governments to honour its commitment, which inevitably brings back memories of recent US actions in Iraq and Libya.
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Made in USA: The Coming Collapse of the European Union


The Ukraine war is becoming the EU’s death knell as its leadership, accepting jointly with Europe’s main governing parties the US instructions on confronting Russia, has bet the house on a Russian military defeat in Ukraine and a political-economic collapse leading to regime change in the Kremlin. The EU leaders have dangerously and increasingly tied the fate of the European integration project to their belief (based on gross miscalculation or misled by Anglo-American intelligence) in an Ukraine victory and a Russian loss.

As this is unlikely to happen, and as a major crisis unfolds this coming winter due to growing population discontent with raising energy costs, food disruption and general economic malaise, serious political changes will affect the EU and Europe’s political leadership. At best, the EU will severely lose momentum towards further political integration and will become entangled in paralysis and institutional marasmus.  At worst, growing dissatisfaction will prompt radical political changes and bring to power politicians with alternative views on the usefulness and relevance of the EU. 

The US-led economic war against Russia as response to the Ukraine military operation has exposed and worsened the deep structural faults of the European Union (EU) architecture. In fairness these cracks manifested before, for instance during the Greek crisis starting in 2009, the Brexit process since 2016 and the growing disputes of Poland and Hungary with the EU administration. At the root of the EU’s problems is a governance structure run by non-elected officials which over decades has not only expanded but also developed its own survival logic at the expense of the bread-and-butter issues that do matter to the average European.
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World Wars’ Shadows: the US Current Clash with Russia and China


The reasoning behind the US government’s current confrontations with Russia and China is very much debated, with explanations including sheer incompetence, short-term opportunism from a Democratic Party hellbent on pursuing a destructive geopolitical agenda for its own domestic ends, a blind urge to preserve world domination driven by a diminishing role in world affairs and, from those believing in more rational responses, containment and deterrence as a systematic but flexible response.

Not enough appears to have been said about the history lessons the US has learned - and appears to be trying to apply in the current conflicts in Ukraine and Taiwan - from its participation in the two world wars of the 20th century and how US worldwide domination derived from the way it positioned itself ahead of its involvement in those wars in 1917 and 1941. In both instances, the US skilfully observed from the distance the progression of hostilities and entered into them at a time, place and modus operandi of its choice. 

US participation in World War I, despite Woodrow Wilson’s affirmation that it was driven by a desire to make the world safer for democracy, was motivated by imperialistic pursuits masqueraded in the need to build a new world order to replace the so-called decadent European old regime. By entering the war during its third year and after substantial destruction, the US became the arbiter of Europe’s fate. From being its debtor, the US became Europe’s creditor as it accumulated more than half of the world’s gold.
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Ukraine is Losing the War, and So is Europe


Beyond the damage in Ukraine, the war also has significant casualties in the rest of Europe as the continent is losing its most competitive energy supplies, compromising the region’s manufacturing edge and accelerating an inflation wave that through higher energy costs will severely affect the wellbeing of its population this coming winter.

Europe has been trying for years to diversify its energy sources but it did not have a comprehensive contingency plan to counteract the impact of abruptly severing access to Russia’s oil and gas since the beginning of the Ukraine war. European politicians have grossly exaggerated the substitution potential of other energy sources (like LNG) and are facing the need to accept alternatives that not too long ago were considered politically unpalatable, like the reopening of coal production in Germany.
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Deciphering Trump’s Foreign Policy


Donald Trump’s presidency, like preceding ones, is trapped by the interests of the power elite that has ruled America since World War II. The constraints imposed on domestic policy by this elite inevitably have a direct impact on America’s foreign policy. Alternative social forces, like the ones behind Trump’s presidential triumph, only have a limited impact on domestic and ultimately on foreign policy. A conceptual detour and a brief on history and on Trump’s domestic setting when he was elected will help clarifying these theses.
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