Russia – Western Edifice

April 20, 2022

Russia – Western Edifice

Padmini Arhant

The recent exit of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was largely associated by the subject as western conspiracy behind his incomplete term in office,  though the development is not unique in Pakistan’s politics.

The outgoing Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan also publicly stated during the rally and address to his nation that the former administration was chided by western represented emissary viz. EU and the United States for the ex- Prime Minister’s visit to Moscow at the onset of Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The former Prime Minister Imran Khan drew parallel in this context by citing the next door neighbor and adversary India’s relation with Russia. The former Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterated that economic ties between India and Russia in energy and defense procurement continued slighting western sanctions against Russia.

The former Prime Minister Imran Khan also expressed disappointment and noted western discriminatory practice against his administration in particular reference to the Moscow trip on the eve of Russian invasion of Ukraine which the ex-Prime Minister and his former cabinet colleagues like the ex-foreign minister Shah Mahmood Quereshi said was pre-arranged diplomatic tour long before the Ukraine war.

All said and done – here are the glaring dichotomy in the entire international foreign policy.

First of all, the former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s anti-western anguish doesn’t quite fit into the backdrop of the cricket sports star who has been promoted with extravagant publicity from the United States ally Britain with enthusiastic support from Israel.

The cricket sportsman turned politician Imran khan has overwhelmingly enjoyed special favorable coverage from London all along with national media like BBC including Fleet Street fawning over the cricketer never having enough of Mr. Khan’s profile extending beyond the running commentary of first class cricket test match and international series.  Although the cricketer Imran Khan led the Pakistan cricket team as the captain and not England with the latter even defeated in the final world cup tournament in 1992 at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia with Pakistan winning the world cup that year.

As for Israel’s affinity towards Mr. Imran Khan, the sentiment is largely related to Mr.Khan’s former wife Jemima Goldsmith, the British citizen of Jewish descent and wealthy background.

The anti-west turn around from the former Prime Minister Imran Khan prior to political turmoil was conspicuously to appease China. Pakistan’s largest creditor and investor China, especially in the complex CPEC – China Pakistan Economic Corridor in Pakistan’s gwadar port is ongoing strenuous undertaking.

On the other hand, Pakistan and Russia relations basically developed following United States and NATO failure in neighboring Afghanistan which in fact is interesting considering Pakistan’s close ties with United States in the aftermath of former Soviet Union’s defeat in Afghanistan earlier. The partners were reversed as situation changed in the two Islamic states.

Russia and Pakistan conducted first joint military exercise in 2016 much to New Delhi’s angst and concern. The relation between the two countries further advanced into arms sales and military training of Pakistan soldiers by Russia in August 2018 and later in 2020 which happens to be during former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s term in office.

It is fair to say Russian defense strategy in the Indian sub-continent pivoted towards Pakistan as Moscow noted New Delhi drawn closer towards United States mostly to attract India with defense procurement from the U.S. despite India until now remains the largest buyer of defense hardware from Russia.

There is a shift in partnering in the Indian sub-continent with Moscow wooing Islamabad to convey New Delhi on Moscow’s discomfort regarding India’s intimacy with the United States in defense as well as other strategic alliance such as Quad in the Indo-Pacific.

While this is going on in South Asia, the European and Russian relation beckons focus.

The Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer visit to Russia on April 12, 2022 after direct meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin were described by Russian academia and scholars as follows.

“The Austrians stick to more balanced approaches than even the Germans, claiming the role of a global mediator and a negotiating platform. This is why, despite being an EU member, they refused to provide weapons to Ukraine,” Associate Professor with the Department of International Relations, Political Science and Foreign Area Studies at the Russian State University for the Humanities Vadim Trukhachev stated.”

“Austria opposes an oil and gas embargo on Moscow. Vienna depends a lot on Russia in terms of energy. Austria used to be a big advocate of Nord Stream 2. And now, they keep stressing that although they support EU sanctions, their national interests should not suffer. Those interests particularly include Russian gas supplies,” Vladimir Schweitzer, Head of the Department for Social and Political Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Europe noted.”

The major economic power in EU – Germany signed contract with Russia for gas pipeline Nord Stream 1 in 2011 and Nord Steam 2 pipeline back in 2012 during the former German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s term in office.

The five large stake holders in the Nord Stream energy pipeline project are – “Shareholders of the company are the Russian gas company Gazprom (51% of shares), German companies Wintershall Dea and PEG Infrastruktur AG (E. ON) (both 15.5%), the Dutch gas company Gasunie (9%), and the French gas company Engie (9%).

OMV, about 32% of which is owned by the Austrian state, has put around 730 million euros ($813.95 million) into Nord Stream 2. The other financial investors in Nord Stream 2 are Shell (SHEL. L), France’s Engie and Germany’s Uniper (UN01.DE) and Wintershall DEA (WINT. UL)” Feb 27, 2022.

According to International Energy Agency – IEA .org

“In 2021, the European Union imported 155 billion cubic metres of natural gas from Russia, accounting for around 45% of EU gas imports and close to 40% of its total gas consumption. Nobody is under any illusions anymore. Russia’s use of its natural gas resources as an economic and political weapon show Europe needs to act quickly…said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.” – IEA Press Release – March 3, 2022.”

International news agency : “The Hungarian government opposes a ban on Russian energy supplies and will continue to defend its position at meetings of the European Union, the country’s Foreign Ministry, Peter Szijjarto said on Monday. He was taking part in a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.”

It is abundantly clear from the international reports and western European energy companies stakes in Russian energy production – Nord stream 1 & 2 pipeline projects, the energy inter-dependency between Russia and EU as supplier and consumer respectively continued till date amid ongoing war in Ukraine with EU members like Austria and NATO ally Hungary defending their stance on anti-sanctions against Russian oil & energy.

Juxtaposed Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s similar position on the Moscow trip and energy deals with Moscow emphasized in Pakistan’s national interest unfortunately resulted in the Pakistan former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ouster from power. 

The ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ties with Moscow synonymous to EU counterparts like Austria, Germany, Hungary and others in Western as well as eastern Europe were treated differently causing political change in the islamic state in South Asia.

Yet another contradiction among EU members is while they remain Russian energy importers quoting national requirement, their supply of arms to Ukraine from some EU states is quoted as aiding Ukraine to defend democracy. Notwithstanding they are financing Russian invasion of Ukraine via energy consumption.

Russia on its part positioned as anti-west and anti-NATO apparently has no problem in supplying energy products to any and all of them maintaining cash flow from economic activities with them amidst bombing and shelling Ukraine for over two months now.

In effect, both EU and Russia fearing security threats from each other in the region fail to realize their symmetrical role in the energy deals contributing to Russian financial resources on the one side and Russia enabling NATO military capability with Russian exported energy on the other end. There is no recognition from either in terms of self-generated security reality.

Ukraine in the middle of this predicament expected to be neutral, bare arms and bear the brunt of nuclear Russia and EU convenient economic policy.

In the whole gamut, the Ukrainian civilians are paying the price with their lives and property destroyed in Russian heavy artillery hitting every possible standing structure in Ukrainian cities and coastal towns of the once beautiful country.

Meanwhile, the western edifice is justified as necessity prioritizing economic interests over own security considering the spill over effects already experienced with Ukrainian refugees forced to flee their homeland to neighboring Poland, Hungary and Moldova…

Above all the possibility of prolonged war in Ukraine becoming the protracted battle across Europe cannot be ruled out with the status quo.

Unwise to fuel the fire for it might sooner than later engulf the entire zone.

Had EU then respected Ukraine’s economic relations with Russia in 2014 and refrained from cooperation with United States violent insurrection overthrowing Ukraine’s democratically elected incumbent government of President Viktor Yanukovich in 2014 over Kiev and Moscow economic treaty, the situation could have been economically beneficial and politically peaceful for Ukraine and eastern Europe unlike the present time.

Not to mention, the western dogma – what is good for the goose not appropriate for the gander.

Padmini Arhant 

Author & Presenter


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