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We are fighting a hybrid war – and it will be tough

April 4, 2022

The UK, European Union and USA might not be directly involved in the war on the ground in Ukraine or in the air over its shattered, beleaguered cities, but we are on the frontline in a new type of hybrid warfare. There is the war being fought with troops, missiles and bombs and then there is the war being fought with economics: that is our war.

All wars have consequences and inflict casualties on both sides and the economic war being fought over Ukraine is no different. Those consequences will inflict economic pain on the western liberal democracies as well as on Russia. We are already feeling that pain with the sharp uplifts in gas prices and prices at the pumps when we fill up our cars. That will be just the start, as the businesses owned by now sanctioned Russian oligarchs are also showing signs of strain.

The enforced sale of Chelsea football club has grabbed the headlines but other firms are reeling too. Last week Holland & Barrett, the health food chain whose owner is sanctioned, found it could not pay its debts. Many more will follow.

Countries have been choosy over the sanctions they have imposed, trying to pick those that will inflict the maximum economic pain on Russia and the oligarchs they believe have Putin’s ear, while not impacting their own economies too harshly. This has led to an uneven, patchy approach.

At the end of last week, there were signs that some countries like Germany and Italy, highly dependent on Russian gas, were growing nervous about the impact the sanctions are having on their pandemic ravaged economies. This morning all the talk is of tougher sanctions in the face of the chilling reports of massacres in Bucha.

Banning the import of all Russian gas and oil – for which the west is still paying billions each week to Russia – will hit hard. In Germany, it could quickly lead to gas rationing. Here, it will hit motorists as 13% of diesel is still imported from Russia, according to the latest government figures. Prices will go up and we may see shortages, potentially leading to rationing at the pumps. Domestic energy prices are already causing hardship and can only go in one direction if even tougher sanctions are imposed.

These are the hard consequences of our war on Russia. And it could be a long war.

The big question is: do we have the national and individual resilience for that long haul?

From → Politics

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