The ban on purchases of Russian hydrocarbons by the USA and Great Britain, the plan to reduce by 2/3 the consumption of Russian gas by the EU and the imminent response from Moscow, are leading to the immediate and general transformation of the economic war into a war economy in the whole of Europe, from Yakutia to the Azores. Already in sight is an impoverishment of the whole continent's workers of a speed and violence not seen since the last imperialist world war.
From sanctions to blocking Russian oil and gas exports
Biden yesterday announced the ban on the purchase of Russian hydrocarbons. He chose as a background a portrait of Theodor Roosevelt on horseback evocative of the war in Cuba, the first great imperialist affirmation of the United States.
This Monday, with the flow of gas from Russia to Germany through Poland stopped since Friday, new record prices were reached in Europe. Speculators were going wild. The US was preparing a ban on Russian oil and gas exports and was pushing Britain and the EU with all its diplomatic might to join in.
Yesterday the US finally banned Russian oil imports and Britain joined in. The EU, much more dependent on gas to keep its productive structure on its feet, refused a total ban with sweeping effects. Instead it presented a draconian plan to reduce consumption of Russian energy sources by 2/3 over the course of the current year.
To get an idea of the impact of what is to come, one of the pillars of the plan is to reduce heating consumption. The International Energy Agency's report assessing the cost of reducing dependence on Russian gas by 1/3, i.e. half the EU's current target for this year, said that, on average and counting the countries of the South, Europeans' heating would have to be reduced by one degree. It may not sound like much, but in practice it would translate into a social and health disaster for working households in Eastern and inland European countries. Now double the target.
Workers on both sides of the EU border are the main victims of the sanctions and the restriction of purchases.
Spain. At today's prices the average annual bill would go from less than €1000 to more than €2000 per year.
And let's keep in mind that the starting price of gas is already crazy. For an average Spanish family, the annual bill, after the latest increases, is already over €2,000. If until yesterday the fact that this was not a temporary phenomenon was clear, today every sensible expectation, with the EU plan in hand, points to a brutal rise in prices in the near future.
Meanwhile, the first phase of the economic war, the blockade of critical exports, is beginning to make itself felt in Russia.
Of course, the Russian bourgeoisie is concerned about the sine die closure of the stock exchanges and the petty bourgeoisie is worried about the corralito decreed yesterday which reduces their savings in currency to $10,000. But for the great majority of the population and especially for the workers, who live from day to day, the situation is much more serious: a href="https://www.kdelo.ru/news/389994-avtozavody-volkswagen-i-volvo-perevodyat-sotrudnikov-v-prostoy">the factories owned by foreign capital (Volkswagen, Volvo, etc.) are laying off en masse, there is already a shortage of medicines and rationing of basic foodstuffs is beginning in the supermarkets.
For migrant workers it is not even possible to send money home anymore, and from what we are told, a wave of wage arrears and non-payments is already underway, the cheapest way for companies to finance the financial disaster.
In Ukraine meanwhile, the war economy is already a reality. With almost 40% of companies not paying wages or full wages to their workers, the government is reconverting the productive structure at full speed for war production and has decreed the forced mobilization of workers. In doing so, it not only militarizes them and strips them of their most basic rights, but also turns them into a target for bombing by the Russian army.
From economic war to war economy
Pharmacy in Nobosibirsk. For a week now the shortage of basic medicines has been growing into a social alarm.
Yesterday in Russia the government urgently presented a series of decrees to alleviate a situation that has already exploded into wildcat strikes in some factories over non-payment of wages. The first package attempts to launch at full speed a basic generic drug industry to replace blocked imports and opens the door to maintaining a part of the local SMEs with public contracts.
But in the evening, after Biden's speech introducing the ban on gas purchases, Putin signed a new export restriction decree. The decree empowers the government to "turn off the tap" of gas, oil and raw materials to a whole series of "hostile countries" including, obviously, AUKUS and the EU. The concrete list of restrictions will be made public between today and Friday.
The threat made explicit a few hours earlier by Deputy Prime Minister Novak is about to be carried out. If the Russian government cuts off oil and gas exports to the EU, the oil barrel would very possibly rise to 300 dollars and the shock on the whole global economic system would be brutal... especially for the workers. The whole Europe - Russia, Ukraine, the EU - would go from economic war to war economy.
Let us not forget who they are and what role we play in the economic warfare of the European and American ruling classes
No to War on a Building in Russia
Sanctions clearly reflect the nature of both imperialist war and “national integrity”: the ruling classes attack the “business” of their rivals, their “freedom” to move, place and profit from capital on a personal and collective level, i.e. as a state.
In the course of so much armed slaughter, but also in the calculation of the impact of sanctions, the lives of the exploited are mere instruments of each ruling class to achieve better “strategic” conditions in future wars, markets, infrastructures, raw materials and, ultimately, profitability.
The “sacrifices” which all ruling classes now announce under different excuses are nothing but sacrifices for the profitability of their present investments and for the future expectations of each national capital.
Let us be clear: Russian soldiers go to the front to die and kill their Ukrainian equal counterparts so that the gigantic manor of their exploiters will be better “positioned” to face future conflicts. Ukrainian soldiers in order to prevent the estate of their exploiters from being plundered and divided by neighboring rivals. Workers in the rest of Europe and America are called upon to swallow sacrifices in their most basic living conditions (heating, cooking, lighting their homes) in “solidarity with Ukraine”. But the word Ukraine, in that context does not point to the great mass of the inhabitants of its territory, but to the business of its owners and allies.
This war, like all the other ones, expresses that “getting the business going”, the main goal of “society’s owners”, is increasingly incompatible with the most basic and universal human need: to keep living.