Where ‘the main dog is buried’

Mikhail Rostovsky

On a day that is not particularly rich in bright events, colorful statements by high-ranking servants of the people often become a lifesaver for a political journalist. And in this regard, on Monday morning I had plenty to choose from. There was, for example, the chairman of the State Duma, Vyac-heslav Volodin, with his sensation about the “en-lightenment” of the West.
“A new rhetoric has sounded from Washington and Brussels: the issue of negotiations on a peaceful settlement in Ukraine dep-ends entirely on Zelensky. Previously argued otherwise…
We realized that there would be no victory with Zelensky. And they don’t want to bear responsibility for the defeat ”(I don’t observe those encouraging signs that the speaker sees, but I hope that in this case I have “vision problems”, not him).
There was Biden with an even louder sensation: “The pandemic is over” (they say that even those of his assistants who are directly involved in the fight against covid were in deep shock from this “enlightenment” of the US president).
Finally, there was UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres with his skepticism about the method chosen by Russian diplomacy to combat visa discrimination by the United States: “I sincerely doubt that arbitration will lead to a positive result. And in any case, this will not change – probably even worse – the attitude of the host country (I suspect that Guterres is right – even if the outcome of the arbitration is positive for Mos-cow, the Americans will m-ost likely simply ignore it).
But as the “event of the day” I choose the statement of a much less well-known and media-hyped person – the Prime Minister of the German federal state of Lower Saxony, Stefan Weil. In an interview with Der Spiegel magazine, this German politician entered into a correspondence discussion with Vladimir Putin and very clearly outlined the factor that will determine the outcome of the economic confrontation between Russia and the West.
The President of the Russian Federation in Samarkand on the energy crisis in Europe in general and in Germany in particular: “After all, if it’s impatient, if everything is so difficult, then take and lift the sanctions on Nord Stream 2, 55 billion cubic meters per year, only push the button and it’s all over.
No, they closed it themselves, they closed it here, they can’t repair it, the new gas pipeline was put under sanctions, they don’t want to open Nord Stream 2. Are we to blame? Let them think about who is to blame for what, and don’t blame us for their own mistakes.”
Prime Minister of Lower Saxony: Nord Stream 2 will never be put into operation… Trust has been lost so fundamentally that there will never again be a situation in which the German federal government can bet on energy from Russia… This cooperation irretrievably destroyed. And the West will recover faster from this than Russia.”
So we came to the place where “the main dog is buried.” The speed of recovery – who will be the first to get on their feet, and who will remain floundering – is now a key issue in determining the outcome of the economic war between Russia and the West. The crisis now covering Europe (and to a much lesser extent the United States), caused by completely frantic and unaffordable energy prices, only seems to be something new and unprecedented. Something similar happened almost half a century ago – in the 70s. Offended by the position of the West during the next Arab-Israeli war in 1973, the leaders of Saudi Arabia fired at the “traitors” from the “energy gun” (imposed an oil embargo). Other OPEC countries (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) gladly joined in the fishing in troubled waters.
The consequences for the economy of the Western world were catastrophic. To quote Stephen Kotkin’s Armageddon Averted: The Fall of the Soviet Union, 1970-2000: In 1970s England, Sheffield and its surrounding industrial estate lost more than 150,000 jobs in the steel industry alone. Even greater losses were in mechanical engineering … At the same time, the “workshop of Germany” – the Ruhr region with its many steel mills – lost 100 thousand jobs …
As a result of the crisis, the main industrial region of the United States was devastated – 8 states of the Great Lakes region (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York). In the 1970s, more than a thousand factories closed in the United States. Analysts wrote in desperation: “We are witnessing the decline of industrial America, the bankruptcy or decline of once-mighty industrial enterprises.”
Strong, right? Stop, wait! If everything in the West was so bad, then why by the end of the next decade it was not the West, but the USSR, that was in a state of collapse? Why is Kotkin’s book devoted not to the collapse of the United States, but to the collapse of the Soviet Union?
The economic background of what happened looks something like this: at first, our country benefited a lot from rising oil prices and expanding economic ties with the West. But after 10-12 years, it turned out that the US and Europe have rebuilt their economies, but we have not. Oil prices have entered a phase of long-term decline and decline. We were in flight, and they were in chocolate.
During the current crisis, things are developing much more dynamically, at a much faster pace. It remains only to understand where exactly (and in whose favor) it is developing. I really hope that in favor of Russia. But I would not write off Stefan Weil’s statement: “The West will recover faster!” — like an empty boast.