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THE first whammy – the Covid-19 pandemic – is still with us as no country has been successful in completely wiping out the coronavirus.
The second whammy – the Russian-Ukraine war – has been with us since February.
These two whammies have caused a disruption in supply chain and, along with sanctions, have caused soaring energy and food prices, resulting in a third whammy of galloping inflation globally, especially in the European Union (EU) countries.
The world is about to witness the possibility of a fourth whammy, which may occur in the near future, in the form of an Israel-Lebanon war.
Let us first look at what will lead to this whammy.
When you use sanction as a weapon against your enemy, it is indeed foolhardy to target your enemy’s product which you are heavily dependent on for sanction.
This is what the EU is doing on the instigation of the United States when it sanctioned Russian oil.
It does not sanction Russian gas on which it is heavily dependent, but with an arrogance that borders on stupidity, it went on to announce the bloc’s intent to reduce the import of Russian gas by two-thirds by the end of the year.
You are still heavily dependent on Russian gas and you have the temerity to announce this reckless bravado!
The West must take a leaf from Sun Tzu’s Art of War in that when you want to incur a fatal blow to your enemy, it must be done quietly even while you are in a position of strength, lest your enemy knows of your move and makes a countermove behind your back, leaving you bleeding profusely.
To the credit of Russia, it held to a moral high ground by not cutting off its gas supply completely and immediately to the West despite this bold, arrogant but naïve bravado from the West.
Instead, it made a beautiful countermove by making it mandatory for the West to pay in roubles the gas that it has supplied, failing which the supply will cease.
And thus, Poland, Bulgaria, Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands have had their Russian gas deliveries suspended after they refused the demand to pay in roubles.
On June 17, Russian energy giant Gazprom cut gas flows through the undersea pipeline from Russia to Germany, which also served France by as much as 60%, and by half to Italy and Slovakia and completely to France due to technical issues arising from Western sanctions against Moscow.
Leaders in Germany and Italy called the reductions a political move and it has escalated the energy tensions in Europe.
Some EU leaders have accused Russia of “blackmailing” the bloc with its oil and gas exports, and have blamed Moscow for soaring energy prices.
The Kremlin has rejected the claims, laying the blame on EU policies.
According to Gazprom, German equipment supplier Siemens Energy failed to return gas pumping units to a compressor station on time.
The repaired turbines for North Stream are currently stuck at a maintenance facility in Canada due to Ottawa’s sanctions on Russia. Siemens has said Germany and Canada are seeking a solution.