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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Wheat could be Russia’s next weapon

Gaston de Persigny
Gaston de Persigny
Gaston de Persigny - Reporter at The European Times News

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European Foreign Minister Josep Borrell told El Pais that all EU members must get rid of energy dependence on Moscow, but acknowledged that unanimity had not yet been reached between member states. Borrell proposes a renunciation of fossil fuels and stresses that wheat could be Russia’s next economic weapon. Alternatively, Borrell offers a voluntary waiver of fossil fuels. He also insisted on supporting Kyiv with weapons. “The way out of the conflict must be decided on the battlefield,” Borrell said in a virtual interview with the LENA media group, which includes El Pais. “Russia’s first blitzkrieg attempt failed. They failed to take Kyiv. They had to retreat, change their tactics and concentrate their forces in Donbass. So far they are losing. Ukrainians will have to pay a high price: they have a large number of victims, infrastructure has been destroyed, civilians are fleeing or dying. However, Russia’s plans failed. “Let’s see how the next battle goes,” Borrell said. “There are people who criticize us and say that giving weapons means prolonging the conflict and causing more casualties, and that we must stop. If we stop arming Ukraine, the conflict will end. But then what? Doesn’t matter how it ends? The question is not only when it will end, but also how. Regarding the imposition of new sanctions that will affect Russia’s oil and gas, Borrell said there are many options on the table: a tax, an import ban or perhaps the Iranian system.

 “Many economists believe that it would be rational to raise gas and oil prices in order to demand alternative sources. None of these proposals enjoys unanimous support. This is an issue that needs to be addressed by the European Council. This is a high-level policy. No agreement has been reached so far. We talk to everyone and put pressure on action. When Germany said there would be no more Russian oil by the end of the year, it put strong pressure. But it will happen. Russia will lose money from the sale of oil and gas. If we can reach a unanimous decision, I will be happy. I insist on this, I present arguments, I study the possibilities, I look for alternatives. “

According to the diplomat, Europe lacks autonomy in many respects, but the most important at the moment is energy. “We are very dependent on supplies from a person with whom we now have a very bad relationship. It is clear that Europe must make an effort to become energy independent as a start. This is the most important thing right now. We can be criticized for failing to do so much earlier when Putin took over Crimea. Now we see the real danger. “Everyone is reducing their consumption and energy dependence on Russia,” he said. However, according to the head of European diplomacy, the world will be even more divided and this will lead to economic shocks. Wheat will become a kind of weapon. Russia is already saying, “Our wheat is for friends, and whoever is not our friend will not receive it.” A new political panorama will emerge in which Russia and China will be on one side and the West on the other. And many “Developing countries are leaning towards one country or the other, depending on the circumstances. Do you remember the Cold War, when there were non-aligned countries? We are now witnessing a resurgence of this phenomenon,” concluded Josep Borrell.

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