Backfiring Russia Sanctions May Fuel Growing US-EU Rift Amid ‘Fracturing of Support’ for Kiev
06:47 GMT 11.11.2022 (Updated: 06:18 GMT 12.11.2022)
© AP Photo / Virginia MayoThe US and EU flags, left and right, fly side by side at the European Council building in Brussels
© AP Photo / Virginia Mayo
As costs of food, fuel, heating and rent surge, adding to the cost of living crisis gripping Europe because of the fall-out from western sanctions on Russia over its military operation in Ukraine, thousands of people took to the streets of various European capitals in September and October to demand an end to the backfiring sanctions policy.
The Biden administration is being warned that growing resentment over the bitter cost of living crisis - increasingly attributed to the Washington-driven sanctions policy on Moscow - may prompt some EU leaders to "jump ship", according to internal memos and reports cited by US media. Europe-based American officials are cited as warning of a potential EU-US rift over continued support for Ukraine as the continent’s leaders witness their populations' swelling anger over rising costs and plummeting living standards.
7 November 2022, 12:45 GMT
Fears of ‘fracturing of support’ for Kiev have moved top US officials to engage in frenetic calls over how to keep the European allies aligned with Washington’s strategy, sources were cited as saying. US officials described sentiment in EU capitals as increasingly volatile, conceding that if European allies were to start rethinking their role in propping up the Kiev regime, Russia would be granted additional “leverage”.
Cited memos pointed to the growing wave of protests in some European cities, such as those across Germany in September and the Czech Republic in October, over rocketing inflation and energy costs.
8 October 2022, 20:41 GMT
As winter draws nearer, mind-boggling heating bills, along with other household costs, will place further pressure on the European governments to deal with their own domestic needs. Accordingly, the latter may outweigh calls to continue pumping money and weapons into the Kiev regime, US officials believe.
Experts were cited as cautioning Washington that although “things are holding steady for now,” it is “a shaky situation".
It was added that the US, as a major crude producer, was much better positioned to observe its sanctions campaign, unlike energy-reliant Europe. Accordingly, the US administration should have realized sooner that the energy crisis gripping the European continent would, at some point, start chipping away at the allies’ unity, forcing EU capitals to shift their attention from supporting Ukraine’s military “to dealing with the energy crisis".
10 November 2022, 14:07 GMT
US national security officials and diplomats are described as intensifying communication with EU counterparts to bolster wavering support for sanctions. At several recent meetings with European officials in Brussels, London and Berlin, the Washington officials continued to drive home their rhetoric regarding the need to “cripple” Russia’s economy.
However, European governments that have readily taken big hits through sanctions to support Ukraine, watching their own revenues plummet, increasingly must face the fact that their populations' needs have to come first.
Originally, global energy prices first began to move steeply upwards in the autumn and winter of 2021, because of growing energy demand, growing rivalry between Europe and Asia over the dwindling supplies, countries’ failure to stock up on natural gas in the summer months, and poorer-than-expected returns on investment in alternative energy sources (wind and solar power). With the start of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, western countries’ sanctions pressure on Russia brought with it disruption to supply chains, higher fuel and food prices across the EU, and record levels of inflation. Russia's President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly said that the policy of sanctions has dealt a serious blow to the entire global economy.
Now, peak inflation “is almost within reach” in the eurozone, after hitting a historic high of 10.7 percent in October, a European Central Bank Governing Council member was cited as warning. Already, energy costs for households across Europe have nearly doubled from where they were in October 2021, according to data from the Household Energy Price Index.
More than a quarter of Europeans admit they are in a "precarious" financial state, and half fear they soon will be, according to a recent Ipsos poll. The six-nation survey revealed that 27 percent of those polled were in financial 'dire straits', where "one unexpected expenditure could change everything."
With many uncertainties ahead, one thing is certain - Europe has a tough winter ahead.
10 November 2022, 05:18 GMT