Closer to the edge

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine constitutes a crime of aggression under international law. Putin’s regime launched an attack on a sovereign country that posed no direct threat to the Russian Federation. Russian forces pounded towns into submission, thousands of civilians were killed and millions fled as refugees.

The war on Ukraine has also fueled a food crisis in developing countries around the world and aggravated widespread food price inflation. Russia and Ukraine export more than a quarter of the world’s wheat. But blockades and sanctions are causing wheat shortages in many countries in the Middle East and Africa.

However, the war trade is profitable. Putin’s war in Ukraine, which could last for years, is actually an absolute boon to the most destructive forces on the planet, namely the arms industry and the fossil fuel companies.

Military spending, which hit a record high of $2.1 trillion in 2021, is sure to rise further, as several European countries have already planned to beef up their armed forces in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In a historic vote, Germany’s parliament voted for a constitutional amendment to create a 100 billion euro ($112 billion) fund to modernize the country’s armed forces. Most of the money will go towards the purchase of American-made F-35 fighter jets. German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz also pledged that Germany would spend more than 2% of its gross national product on the military. In real terms, Germany’s annual defense expenditure would increase by 50% in 2022 alone,” according to Alexandra Marksteiner, researcher at the SIPRI Military Expenditure and Arms Production Program. “That would catapult Germany to the top of the list of the world’s biggest military spenders. All other things being equal, Germany would rank third – up from seventh in 2020 – behind the United States and China and ahead of India and Russia.

Belgium, Italy, Norway, Poland, Romania and Sweden also announced increased defense spending. Indeed, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine succeeded in reviving a “brain-dead” NATO. Even Nordic states with a long history of neutrality are now eager to join the transatlantic alliance.

In the United States, where annual increases to the defense budget are common, the war in Ukraine has created strong bipartisan support for more military spending. On June 16, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 23-3 to increase funding for military spending by $45 billion over the Biden administration’s budget request. If passed, the bill would increase the defense budget for fiscal year 2023 to more than $817 billion.

The war in Ukraine has also reinvigorated the fossil fuel industry and put climate action and clean energy on the back burner. As gas prices soar, the Biden administration is doing all it can to boost domestic oil production, including issuing permits to drill on federal lands and ordering an unprecedented release of oil from U.S. reserves.

Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Biden had also urged OPEC and its allies to increase oil production to curb soaring gasoline prices. Biden’s call fell on deaf ears, but his plans to visit the Middle East next month appear to have changed OPEC’s mind, which just announced a production increase of oil.

Excerpt: “The war in Ukraine brings the world closer to the edge of a climatic precipice”.

Courtesy of Commondreams.org


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