Things are getting very ugly in Eastern Europe and, like so many times before this in the last 70 years, the protagonist is Russia. The escalation of tensions with Ukraine in the eye of the hurricane it has old notes, of a Cold War that seemed long ago melted away, but that the Government of Vladimir Putin insists on going through the fridge from time to time.
The matter is taking dark overtones –Spain has even offered to deploy fighter jets in Bulgaria as a deterrent.– and the United States has already warned the Russian Federation: if its men set foot in Ukraine, will activate economic and financial sanctions that include restrictions on international trade between the two powers, with a significant flow of technology from North America to Russia.
The United States is one of the main providers of technology to Russia, both consumer and professional and industrial. In fact, according to US government data, in 2020 its main export to the Russian Federation was technological machinery and equipment, including electronic devices, worth nearly $1.5 billion, followed by chemicals, transportation equipment – vehicles and aircraft – and optical and medical instruments.
In total, purchases of American products by Moscow reached 4.9 billion dollars in 2020, to which should be added some 5 billion more in imports of American services, mainly financial, travel and intellectual property. In addition, the sanctions could lead to Russia losing almost 17,000 million dollars a year from the US, mainly for the purchase of minerals, semi-precious metals and base metals.
Losing the EU would be worse
However, the trade sanctions of the United States would not be the biggest headache for Russia, since in global terms the European Union has much more weight in the balance of its international transactions, and Brussels has also threatened the Putin government with penalties. if it takes hostile action against Ukraine. In fact, the EU as a whole is the largest trading partner of the Russian Federation, ahead of even China.
“To be clear: we want dialogue. We want conflicts to be resolved in the organizations designed for this. But if the situation deteriorates, if there are new attacks on the territorial integrity of Ukraine, we will respond with massive economic and financial sanctions”, hsaid the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who, in addition, has reminded the Putin government that “the EU is, by far, largest trading partner of Russia and also by far its largest investor. This commercial relationship is important for us, but it is much more so for Russia.”
Germany, for example, is the second most important supplier of the Russian Federation, Italy the fourth and France the sixth, while the countries that buy the most materials and products from it are, after China, the Netherlands and Germany, according to data from the Santander Trade Markets portal.
The technological ballot, in addition, can be solved badly than well by resorting to its main trading partner for a long time, China, the country from which they come. the 22% of all imports from Russia. Although it remains to be seen if the Asian country could provide the Russians with some high-tech components that only the United States and its allies manufacture.
Energy problem for the EU
The economic sanctions imposed by the European Union on Russia could be an economic setback for the Slavic country, but they would also be a major problem for the Old Continent in terms of energy, since 40% of all gas imported by the EU and 26 % of the oil it buys comes from the Russian Federation, according to official data from the European Commission. In fact, Moscow is Europe’s main gas supplier.
The dependence of the European Union on Russian energy is such that the conflict, diplomatic or armed, between Western countries and Moscow could deepen the energy crisis suffered by the Old Continent and lead to a shortage unprecedented in recent history. And it is that natural gas it is the source of a fifth of the electricity produced in Europe.
This energy dependency of the EU with Russia is especially important in Germany, as explained in this article The Country, since the Germans are about to close their last nuclear power plants and have been forced to burn less coal to stop emitting CO2. That is why Berlin has been reluctant to threaten Russia until very recently, and has pledged to exhaust all diplomatic avenues before considering sanctions.