Russian Gas or Ukrainian Freedom?

Labour Affairs staff

Johnson used his speech at the Lord Mayor’s banquet 15 November to raise the ‘Russian gas versus Ukrainian freedom’ issue and at this time it is surely significant. Note the headline in this report from the Guardian.

Russian gas or Ukrainian freedom has become Johnson’s battle-cry. Whether it works will depend on Germany’s continued willingness to assert its own sovereignty in this matter or whether it succumbs to the limited freedom that the US is prepared to cede to any state which defies its geopolitical agenda. 

The actual question surrounding the Russian gas deal isn’t, and never was, Russian gas or Ukrainian freedom but continues to be, German’s freedom to access the best energy deal available and Russia’s right to sell its natural resources. In other words it’s not about Ukraine’s freedom but rather Germany’s and Russia’s sovereignty.

The fear is that the new post-Merkel Germany will choose to fall into line with Johnson and Biden and that Johnson’s speech last night was a forerunner to a German reneging on an energy deal with Russia in much the same way that Johnson has reneged on the Chinese nuclear deal. If that proves to be the case then the chances of an armed conflict involving Russia and the West immeasurably increases as no country can fail to respond when it is deprived of exercising its right to sell its natural resources to what was, before US intervention, a willing customer. 

In this speech Johnson also said:

So when we say that we support the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine, that is not because we want to be adversarial to Russia, or that we want in some way strategically to encircle or undermine that great country.

And never let it be forgotten, in this season of remembrance, that it was Russian blood that enabled us to defeat Nazism.

Of course, Johnson left it vague who ‘us’ represent.  It could be ‘the Allies’ and imply that the Soviet contribution was the determinant one, which would be the truth, or it could be us, the Brits.  50 % of British people, when interviewed, said Britain had won the war.  Johnson is not exactly saying that without Russian blood Nazism could not have been defeated. He’s actually saying that it merely enabled “us” (with “us” meaning the Brits and the US) to do the defeating. The Russians as enablers is not exactly the same thing as Russia making the victory. He hasn’t mentioned the Red Army as such nor the word “ally”. 

Amazingly the US are in a position to interfere with Germany getting gas from Russia via the NordStream 2 pipeline. Sanctions were decreed under Trump if this supply went ahead.  Under Biden it looks as if Germany will be allowed, under certain circumstances.  We will write more on this in our next issue.

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