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Putin’s Ukrainian War, Sanctions, and the Tragedy of the Russian People



By John R. Bryson, Professor of Enterprise and Economic Geography at the University of Birmingham

Russia’s Ukrainian military campaign has many origins. One of these is Putin’s on-going failure to govern Russia to create better outcomes for those living and working in Russia. Another reflects the failure of all governments, including all European states, the US and China, to impose effective sanctions on Russia in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea in March 2014, and in response to the Salisbury 2018 Novichok poisoning.

Vladimir Putin is concerned that Russia is no longer treated as a superpower. His actions in Ukraine are one response to ensure that Russia is taken seriously, and the interests of the Russian people are no longer ignored. It is important to distinguish between Putin’s interests and the interests of the Russian people. These are two very different things.

Putin wants to ensure that he creates a legacy as the great leader of the Russian people who was solely responsible for ensuring that Russia reclaimed superpower status. For the Russian people the key issue is about everyday living conditions. There is an important point here in that Putin’s concern with Russia’s standing in international affairs deflects investment away from activities that would produce better outcomes for all Russian citizens.

It is essential that there is a coordinated response by all nations to Russia’s invasion of an independent nation. There must be an immediate cross-cutting response that impacts on the lives of all Russians. This will be a tragedy for the Russian people, but this is occurring at a time when Ukrainians are being slaughtered by the Russian military. This response needs to be extreme as it must represent a warning both to Russia, and other countries, over any actions that result in the illegal annexation of territory.

The current response is to impose sanctions on Russian banks and oligarchs. Russia has also been stripped of the honour of hosting the 2022 Champions League final. However, these sanctions are nowhere near the level needed to deter this type of illegal military action. The sanctions that are imposed must impact on every Russian citizen. The level and degree of impact required would be a tragedy for the Russian people. The question is what sanctions are available and what strategy should be adopted?

The strategy should be to develop a structured approach, but it is an approach that needs to be coordinated. Sanctions should include business, finance, educational, sporting, cultural, and travel activities.

It is not enough, for example, to shift the location of the Champions League final. No Russian citizen should be permitted to participate in any international sporting event. By this I mean ‘no Russian’. It is not acceptable to permit Russians to participate under an alternative arrangement. Thus, no Russian could participate at any Olympics, and this would include representing the Russian Olympic Committee. This exclusion would be permanent until Ukraine becomes a free and completely independent state. This would be a tragedy for all those Russians who have devoted their lives to training to compete in all types of sports. Nevertheless, it must be recognised that an illegal military action by a state has consequences for all citizens of that state. The same exclusion must also be imposed on all international activities in which Russian citizens participate including all cultural activities.

Money matters and foreign earnings are important for the Russian economy. Thus, effective sanctions are required that would disrupt and stop these flows. Countries must agree to reduce their dependence on Russian oil and gas with immediate sanctions imposed on Russia’s energy sector. These sanctions must include all major Russian exports including wheat.  It must be appreciated that such sanctions would impact directly on the Russian people, but they would also have extreme negative impacts on the global economy. This level of sanction would result in rapid energy and food price inflation, including energy shortages across Europe and elsewhere. Any attempt to reduce the impacts on the global economy would, however, ultimately encourage further conflict to occur either led by Russia or other countries.

For sanctions to be effective they must have a major negative impact on the everyday lives of all Russian citizens. There is a triple tragedy here. First, we need always to remember that innocent Ukrainians are being killed by the activities of Russian soldiers. Second, there is the tragedy of the Russian people as effective sanctions must disrupt their everyday lives. Third, there is the tragedy that will come from imposing sanctions on Russia including increased energy and food poverty in other counties. Nevertheless, without effective sanctions there will be other military annexations made by Russia and other countries.

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China and EU Seek Partnership: Xi Jinping Proposes Key Trade Alliance




Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed his desire for China and the European Union (EU) to become key trade partners and foster trust in supply chains, during a meeting with EU leaders in Beijing.

The talks marked the first in-person summit between the two sides in four years and addressed a range of economic concerns, including data flows and market access.

Xi emphasized China’s commitment to high-quality development and opening up, positioning the EU as a crucial partner in economic and trade cooperation.

He envisioned the EU as a trusted collaborator in industrial and supply chain cooperation, aiming for mutual benefits and win-win results.

The summit delved into longstanding issues, such as efforts by Europe to “de-risk” its supply chains and the EU’s anti-subsidies investigation into Chinese-made electric vehicles.

China criticized the investigation, urging the EU to avoid using it for “trade protectionism.”

Xi called for the elimination of interference between China and the EU, a statement likely directed at the United States, which has taken actions, including enlisting the Netherlands, to curb China’s development of high-end semiconductors.

The EU leaders, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, described their conversation with Xi as “good and candid.”

They discussed the main challenges amid increasing geopolitical frictions, emphasizing a commitment to balanced trade relations and pledging to enhance people-to-people exchanges.

During the meeting, Italy formally informed China of its exit from the Belt and Road Initiative, highlighting ongoing strains between the EU and China.

Xi discussed Belt and Road with EU leaders, expressing a willingness to connect it with the EU’s Global Gateway infrastructure plan.

However, deep issues remain, including Russia’s war in Ukraine, trade imbalances, and Chinese overcapacity exported to Europe.

Jens Eskelund, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, stressed the need to address these issues to foster a positive relationship between Beijing and Brussels.

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UAE Commits $30 Billion as COP28 Climate Talks Kick Off in Dubai



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UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed inaugurated the COP28 United Nations climate talks in Dubai on Thursday with a groundbreaking commitment of $30 billion to bolster climate solutions.

Notable world leaders, including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, are scheduled to address the summit.

The unprecedented scale of this year’s COP is evident with tens of thousands of delegates in attendance, making it one of the largest gatherings in COP history.

Beyond politicians and diplomats, the summit attracts campaigners, financiers, and business leaders, providing a diverse platform to address pressing climate challenges.

The urgency of the discussions is underscored by the UN’s declaration of 2023 as the hottest year on record, coupled with the ongoing rise in greenhouse gas emissions.

One early success at COP28 is the agreement among nations on details for managing a fund designed to aid vulnerable countries in coping with extreme weather events intensified by global warming.

Also, rich countries have pledged at least $260 million to initiate this facility.

UAE’s COP28 President, Sultan Al Jaber, announced the launch of ALTERRA, the largest private finance vehicle for climate change, in collaboration with BlackRock, Brookfield, and TPG.

ALTERRA aims to mobilize $250 billion by the end of the decade, with $6.5 billion allocated to climate funds for investments, particularly in the global south.

As the summit unfolds, other pivotal topics include agreements to expand renewables, commitments to phase out fossil fuels, rules for a forthcoming UN carbon market, and the first formal evaluation of global progress in combating climate change since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015.

The UAE’s decisive move in financing climate solutions sets a significant tone for COP28, emphasizing the imperative for collective action to address the escalating climate crisis.

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Nigeria Eyes BRICS Membership within Two Years as Foreign Minister Emphasizes Strategic Alignment



In a strategic move towards global economic collaboration, Nigeria is aspiring to join the BRICS group of nations within the next two years.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, affirmed that Nigeria is open to aligning itself with groups that demonstrate good intentions, well-meaning goals, and clearly defined objectives.

Tuggar stated, “Nigeria has come of age to decide for itself who her partners should be and where they should be; being multiple aligned is in our best interest.”

He emphasized the need for Nigeria to be part of influential groups like BRICS and the G-20, citing criteria such as population and economy size that position Nigeria as a natural candidate.

BRICS, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, stands as a formidable bloc of emerging market powers.

In a recent move to expand its influence, BRICS invited six additional nations, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Argentina, Ethiopia, and the United Arab Emirates, to join the group.

Nigeria, as Africa’s largest economy, has been absent from the BRICS alliance, prompting discussions on the potential economic and political advantages the bloc could offer the country.

Analysts have noted that BRICS membership could provide Nigeria with significant leverage on the global stage.

Vice President Kashim Shettima clarified that Nigeria did not apply for BRICS membership after the bloc’s announcement of new members in August.

Shettima emphasized the principled approach of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, highlighting a commitment to consensus building in decisions related to international partnerships.

As Nigeria eyes BRICS membership, the move is seen as a strategic step towards enhancing its global economic and diplomatic influence.

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