Ukraine war: how it could go on

attack on ukraine
It’s war – what now?

It is well known that the future cannot be predicted. But Russia’s attack on Ukraine is like a domino game, causing a chain of political and economic reactions. Five theses on how to proceed.

In retrospect, many were wrong. Among the few who express this self-criticism is Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck. He admits that “the West, Europe and Germany were too naive”. German foreign policy in recent decades has failed at another crucial point, because the Taliban’s seizure of power in Afghanistan was also a fiasco. Now, at the latest, the West must abandon all naivety and become honest. Five theses attempts to do just that – a risk of being wrong.

“We will win,” declared Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. However, this is not likely. Because neither NATO nor the United States shows any willingness to go to war. This will not prevent the West from supporting Ukraine with military information, money, weapons, equipment and, if necessary, mercenaries. Much will happen unofficially, as has happened in many wars, including in Afghanistan. Ukraine will still be unable to win, but it will prolong the war. At the same time, Russia will not advance west. Because an invasion of the Baltic states, Poland or Romania would trigger a world war because NATO would not be able to withdraw. Growing up during the Cold War, Vladimir Putin will want to keep his balance so that NATO does not spark a counterattack.

If this balance is maintained, China will have little reason not to eventually incorporate Taiwan. The implementation of sanctions will be more difficult than in the case of Russia, because the People’s Republic of China is the second largest economy in the world with more than 1.4 billion customers of products from all over the world. At the start of the Olympics, Putin and Xi Jinping held extensive consultations in Beijing and declared their “unlimited friendship.” Has the Russian president already revealed his plans to his Chinese counterpart in advance? In any case, the simultaneous confrontation in Ukraine and Taiwan would pose enormous challenges to the West. Not much could be expected from the United Nations: China and Russia are permanent members of the Security Council along with the United States, France and Great Britain.

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Sanctions do not work.

Chancellor Olaf Schulz declared that Russia would pay a “heavy price”. Putin likely took the amount into account. The West wants to hit Russia economically with sanctions to force it to surrender – but that won’t work. The Russian president has gone through the scenarios and knows all the possible sanctions. In addition, he has a partner in the East with enormous economic power. China will not intervene directly, but will covertly support Russia. The sanctions will mainly affect Germany as Russia’s most important trading partner in Europe.

Putin turns off the gas tap.

Half of the gas imported to Germany comes from Russia and is transported via pipelines. Even in Soviet times, the gas tap was never closed, even at the height of the Cold War. But it is the only instrument of power that Russia can use to harm the West. And unlike then, there is an alternative for customers in the West, which is China. Germany could not replace Russian gas overnight, because there are still no LNG terminals. On the other hand, Putin can shut down pipelines overnight. This is his strongest card. The second strongest is the price: “Welcome to the brave new world, where Europeans will soon pay 2,000 euros for 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas,” former interim president and Putin confidant Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday when the station announced. For the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline. If he was right, the price would double for this reason alone.

Energy prices are rising, especially since the Ukraine war is not the only factor. The federal government cannot fully compensate for this. Perhaps you will soon urge people to reduce consumption. The warm-up period will soon be over, but there is no fundamental right to a daily hot shower. At the height of the 1973 oil crisis, West Germany was car-free for four days. If people keep their money, firms produce at much higher costs, and exports are politically restricted, a recession is expected. This is said to be the case when economic output shrinks for at least two consecutive quarters. Since this leads to lower tax revenues, the Traffic Light Coalition has to consider several projects. Germany would not be at Russia’s mercy if renewable energies were indeed the largest share of the supply. But the next few months will show whether the expensive transfer can be financed and implemented under the circumstances, as it has been announced.

Here is the photo gallery: Russia attacks Ukraine

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