Militarization Combined with Austerity: the EU Rushes into a War Economy
The visit to Ukraine by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and foreign affairs head Josep Borrell on April 8 marked a major step in putting the European Union on a permanent war footing. Against the backdrop of the ban on imports of Russian coal announced two days earlier by Brussels, von der Leyen hinted that a total embargo on gas as soon as possible was also on the EU agenda. The deal she had signed with the United States on March 16 for delivery of 15 billion cubic meters of LNG by the end of this year indicates who is to profit from the change.
As for the “total independence” from energy imports from Russia, the German econometrics institute DIW has argued that it could be achieved by the end of this year – but at the cost of substantial cuts in gas consumption by industries and German households. The DIW, which is close to the government, claims it could be done by expanding alternative sources of supply and reducing gas consumption by between between 18% and 26% (!) just through saving electricity. But since that would lead to “a drop in production”, the institute notes, the industries affected (forced to shut down – ed.) “should be compensated”.
Just after Ursula von der Leyen’s return from Kiev, the German government did indeed announce a special program in the range of €100 billion in repayable loans to industry to handle the expected cuts in production and substantial loss in revenue. Just like the supplementary defense budget of €100 billion, this program is expected to be largely funded by cuts in non-military budgets, particularly social expenses. Meanwhile, plans are being drawn up in all EU member states for the rationing of energy consumption, with hypocritcal calls being issued to citizens to turn down the heat, take fewer showers, etc., supposedly to “defend democracy”. Hypocritical because the “Great Reset” and the “Green Deal” were set up well before the Russian intervention in Ukraine.
As for the war policy, the EU has apparently thrown diplomacy out the window, and is now committed to let the fighting continue “down to the last Ukrainian”. Josep Borrell tweeted unabashedly on April 9 that “this war will be won on the battlefield”, and went on to promise €500 million more from the EU in weapons deliveries. Ursula von der Leyen, on the same day, let the truth slip out, when she effusively praised “our brave Ukrainian friends”, who “are fighting our war”. Indeed, it is NATO’s war against Russia, for which Ukraine has unfortunately become the pawn.
Confirming the permanent war perspective, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg again stated that the war could “last for a long time”, and “we need also to be prepared for the long haul”. He told the Telegraph (April 9) that NATO is preparing for a “reset” with a permanent “fighting presence” against Russia in Eastern Europe. And not to forget the United Kingdom, which has a long history of pitting countries against one another. Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to Kiev on April 10, where he promised “unwavering” support for Ukraine, assuring them the UK is “in it for the long run”.