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EU on War Path, as von der Leyen and Borrell Promise Weapons and Austerity on Kyiv Visit

April 11, 2022 (EIRNS)—The visit to Ukraine by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell on April 8 marked a big step in the transformation of the European Union into a war economy. Against the background of the EU ban issued two days before on imports of Russian coal, von der Leyen also hinted that a total embargo on oil and gas as soon as possible was on the EU agenda. The deal on delivery of 15 billion cubic meters of LNG by the end of this year, which she signed with the U.S. on March 26, already shows where things will go. As for the “total independence” from energy imports from Russia, the government-related German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) provided arguments that it could be achieved already by the end of this year—at the cost of substantial cuts in gas consumption by German private households and industry (though added to the burden of increased food and energy prices caused by the sanctions).

“If the energy savings potential is maximized and at the same time supplies from other natural gas supplier countries are expanded as far as technically possible, Germany’s supply of natural gas will be secured even without Russian imports in the current year and in the coming winter of 2022-23,” the DIW claims in a paper it released April 8, (in German) reported Deutsche Welle news agency. However: “Admittedly, the additional supply is not sufficient to replace all previous Russian natural gas imports,” but in combination with declining natural gas consumption, the German energy supply could be secured, DIW argues. Demand could be reduced by up to 26%. This could eliminate up to half of Russian supplies, DIW proclaims. “While natural gas in the electricity sector can be replaced by alternative energy sources in the short term, the savings in industry are accompanied by a drop in production. The industries particularly affected should therefore be compensated,” but what they mean by “affected” is forced to shut down.

Just after von der Leyen’s return from Kyiv, the German government indeed moved in that direction, announcing new borrowings of €100 billion to fund repayable bridging loans to industry. Like the extra defense budget of €100 billion, they expect the sister program to be funded to a great extent by cuts in non-military budgets, particularly the social expenses of the government.

As for the militarization aspect, Borrell declared while in Kyiv that EU member states should step up their arms deliveries to Ukraine. “Put the emphasis on arms deliveries.... Sanctions are important, but sanctions will not solve the problem of the battle in the Donbas.” He said it was clear that “the war will be decided in the battle for the Donbas.”

The EU is evidently engaged heavily in efforts to militarize the situation and sabotage any basis for diplomacy seeking a peaceful solution in Ukraine. The latest in this respect are remarks by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock en route to an EU Foreign Ministers meeting in Luxembourg April 11, that (apparently forgetting her portfolio was not defense) “this is not the time for any more excuses ... what Ukraine needs most of all, is weapons, including heavy weapons.”

The above story is also scheduled for publication this week in the European Strategic Alert.

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