As a businessman, I am constantly in contact with friends and colleagues from across Europe. Business, of course, is global and economic integration is an irreversible process. Trading relationships are part of the global consumer market, regulated by the universal laws of supply and demand. That means that the sanctions being introduced against Russia today make their presence felt in Western European economies, leading to their own stagnation and decline. But to justify sanctions, one needs a reason, no matter how ridiculous the reason.
Over the last few months, European friends have begun to ask me the same question, over and over again: “If Russia attacks Ukraine, will we have a large-scale war in Europe?” If only one person had asked this question, I’d put it down to either political ignorance or perhaps a reluctance to read the newspapers. But this question is seemingly on the minds of everyone. The question itself seems to hang over Europe, to such an extent that it preoccupies even the well-informed and intelligent.
I am convinced that “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine” is a reality only in the pages of Western newspapers. Instead, it is a big political game, beneficial only to politicians on the other side of the Atlantic, who are unconcerned with European issues and unaware that the continent does not end at the borders of Ukraine or Russia, but stretches from the Atlantic to the Urals. Europe unites nations, offering them common goals, connections and interests. Our shared European home has no need for America’s geopolitical games, games that are played in the interests of transnational corporations indifferent to Europe’s values and needs.
America, convinced that the ends always justify the means, hopes to secure its financial expansion into Europe by fighting a new cold war, one that could easily become hot. Naturally, this war will take place in Europe, because the Americans understand perfectly well that there can be no victors in a nuclear war. They try to scare us with threats of nuclear catastrophe, hinting that a large-scale military conflict could happen in the European territory. Most of all, these American games threaten Europe’s economic stability. When politicians talk about the Russian threat, business reacts with panic, trade grinds to a halt, and everyone waits on tenterhooks for the promised invasion. It is an absurd spectacle. But of course, if you believe the politicians and the newspapers, Russia – since 2014 referred to invariably as an aggressor country – has prior form.
When in history has an aggressor supplied its victim with gas, oil, nuclear fuel and humanitarian aid? The sanctions that Russia suffered for its so-called “aggression” are so pro-forma and unserious that their impact is almost negligible. Serious politicians understand perfectly that Russia’s has its red lines in foreign affairs, and that they must not be crossed. As such, the accusation that Russia is preparing an imminent attack on Ukraine is nothing more than the usual hearsay and innuendo.
Meanwhile, Europe has enough problems of its own. The energy crisis, migration, the fight against coronavirus and climate change. Brexit, having occurred at a pivotal moment for the EU, caused real pessimism about the future of European integration. Naturally, hysteria about war with Ukraine provides a convenient escape from these dilemmas. Hysteria distracts the continent from its internal problems and revives the fading image of Russia as an dreadful and cunning foe.
In fact, the Russian people – who survived the horrors of the Second World War – have no need of a new conflict. On the contrary, Russians fear the historical echoes of Nazism in Ukraine. We are worried for the Ukrainian people, who are our closest cousins, both biologically and spiritually. Our shared Christianity is a bond that has stood the test of time. Indeed, Christianity as a spiritual guarantor of peaceful coexistence unites us with all of Europe. Today, Russia has finally found a path towards peaceful development, and does not want to compromise it. Our internal stability requires external stability, a lack of conflicts and peaceful international tensions. Russian has no desire for war, whether cold, hot, or hybrid.
Today, however, the US is talking about the possible disconnection of Russia from the SWIFT International Payment System as a preventive measure again the Russian “aggressors”. It goes without saying that so far no one has bothered to ask how exactly Europe will pay for Russian gas without SWIFT. Can European countries abandon Russian gas this winter, or this spring, or even in 10 years’ time? Of course not. Will Russia supply gas free? Again, of course not. The very question of shutting Russia off from SWIFT threatens not just deadlock in European and international relations, but a full-blown strategic crisis.
The artificial hype around Russian-Ukrainian relations delivers short-term dividends only to immature politicians and media that are abusing the trust of their public. Today, when the world is experiencing yet another wave of Covid, we ought to be thinking about what comes after the pandemic. The outlook, strange though it may seem, is not so bad. The global economy will begin its recovery, and it may do so even more rapidly than during the post-war era or during the technological revolution of the sixties. The recovery will require a united effort, and cooperation across states and economies. Whether we welcome it or not, this recovery will reshape modern civilization, from industry to social relations, from education to stock markets, and from the banana trade to IT technologies. We will only overcome the consequences of the Covid crisis together.
Therefore, no one in their right mind can truly want a large-scale military conflict or a stock market collapse to induce the next big global crisis. Business needs global calm and stability which will allow us to generate prosperity for today and make safe forecasts for tomorrow.
By replicating imaginary fears about a mythical war with Ukraine, unscrupulous and irresponsible statesmen and media are serving the interests – whether explicitly or implicitly – of American politicians. At the same time, neither media nor politicians are formally not responsible for the consequences of their fabrications. The propaganda they produce serves the financial interest of the narrow circle of self-interested people. By contrast, the modern business community is the widest possible range of people, with a range of opinions, goals and desires to patch. With their energy and enterprise, they move the world forward. For business to succeed and war to fail, common sense is urgently needed. Common-sense cooperation is exactly what Europe and the world need now.