Thursday, 4 August 2022

Headline Of The Week

From The Metro:
Angry man permanently banned from every Sainsbury’s threatens to never shop at Sainsbury’s again


Bayard said...

In rather the same way as the US are saying they will set a cap on the price they will pay for Russian oil, the same oil that they are no longer buying because of their own sanctions.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, that whole thing baffles me.

1. European countries respond to Russia invading Ukraine by deciding to stop buying Russian oil and gas. Probably the right thing to do, in the long term.

2. The same countries then tell Russia very publicly they are going to do this. A stupid thing to do.

3. Putin says, "right, fuck you all" and starts turning off the gas NOW. Tactically the right thing to do, if you are a reckless terrorist c*** and an absolute dictator.

4. European countries (and even Ukraine!) then moan that Putin is holding them to ransom etc. Well duh.

Bayard said...

3. Putin hasn't turned off any gas. When Siemens/Germany refused to return the turbine that was undergoing maintenance, the Russians cut down the amount of gas going through Nordstream 1 to take allowance for the reduced pumping capacity. If the Germans need more gas than that, they can either give the turbine back or use Nordstream 2, which is complete and ready to go, but they won't, so obviously it is more important to them to stick to the principle of not buying Russian gas than it is to stop their industries going bust and their people freezing this winter.
Also, if you were working for a customer and the customer suddenly announced that they weren't going to pay you for the work you'd done to date, wouldn't you stop working for them?

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, "if you were working for a customer and the customer suddenly announced that they weren't going to pay you for the work you'd done to date, wouldn't you stop working for them?"

I assume that is a rhetorical question, if not, yes of course I'd stop. See my point 3.

As to the turbine, you always assume the Russians are telling the truth, even though recent history shows this to be highly unlikely. I'm agnostic on the details, it's all propaganda.

Bayard said...

" yes of course I'd stop."
So, the US has decided to steal back all the money it has paid Russia for gas that Russia has foolishly accepted dollars (held in the US) as payment for, and yet Russia is still supplying gas, albeit in reduced volume.

"As to the turbine, you always assume the Russians are telling the truth"
If the Germans think the Russians are lying about the turbine, they can simply hand it back and see what happens. Alternatively, they can turn on Nordstream 2. but they do neither of these things. Neither side has offered an explanation why Germany, in dire need of gas, has refused to open Nordstream 2, so it really doesn't matter who's telling the truth or not. Germany needs gas. There is a pipeline which can supply gas ready to go. The Germans refuse to use it. None of these facts have been disputed. What is going on?

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, as you say, it doesn't really matter who is telling the truth (if either). Step 3 follows logically from Step 2.

Bayard said...

Except that 3 is not what is happening. Russia says that they are prepared to supply all the gas Germany wants via Nordstream 2, yet Germany hasn't taken them up on this offer. N2 was constructed precisely to avoid the present situation, a reduction in supplies when maintenance work on N1 necessitated that pipeling operating at reduced capacity. Surely the logical thing to do would be for Germany to say, "OK, then, turn on N2" and see what happens. If nothing comes out the taps at the German end, they can then accuse the Russians of deliberately turning off the gas supply (and why wouldn't they, since the US has stolen all the money that they were paid for the gas they have already supplied?). At the moment, we have the farcical situation where the Germans are saying that the Russians are lying, but refusing to call the Russians' bluff. It's hard to avoid the conclusion that the German government is more interested in trying to make the Russians look like the bad guys than it is in preventing its citizens freezing and its industries collapsing. I wonder why that could be.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, look, nobody knows the details. Germany insists that they are happy to deliver the turbine and say that the Russians are throwing a hissy fit and not accepting it. Doesn't really ring true, but hey. The sooner Europe weans itself of Russian oil and gas, the better.

Bayard said...

" The sooner Europe weans itself of Russian oil and gas, the better."

Why? So far. all the sanctions have done is made Russia richer and the rest of Europe poorer. Was that the idea? If so why is it a good idea? Russia is quite happy to sell natural resources to China and India, they're not fussed. The rest of Europe is very not happy to ave to buy much more expensive oil and gas from elsewhere. I could see your point if the sanctions were affecting Russia adversely, but they are not. Before all this sanctions nonsense started, Russia was like a third world country. It exported huge amounts of natural resources and used the money it got from them to buy manufactured goods and food. They were happy selling us oil and gas, we were happy selling them manufactured goods and food. Then some genius decided to start sanctioning products that Russia was importing, so it was forced to manufacture or grow them itself. Net result is that Russia is still getting lots of money for its exports, but the rest of the world is selling them less and less. Now we have reached the end of this process, whereby Russia imports nothing from the West, but still is able to sell all the oil and gas it was selling before. Who is the loser here?

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, because declaring open war on Russia is too risky, but we have to do something, this boycott is just a modest opening shot.

Or do we happily turn a blind eye until the Russkies are back in East Germany, and then draw a line?

The freedom and security of a hundred million East Europeans is a tad more important that Germans turning the heating or air con down a bit.

Bayard said...

Why do we have to "do something"? Because Russia has invaded Ukraine? We've never done anything when other countries have been invaded, apart from joining in with the invasion. We are quite happy to both buy oil from and supply arms to the Saudis who are busy beating up the Yemenis. Saudi Arabia doesn't even pretend to ever having been a democracy, they chop people's heads off and women occupy a place in society somewhere between second-class citizen and slave. They have real slaves, too.
As to all this "Putin wants to reconquer Eastern Europe" crap, I am baffled why someone who has been sceptical about all the AGW lies and has put a lot of effort into debunking them would swallow such utter tosh without questioning it.

Bayard said...

Even if it was true, and Russia was a state bent on world domination that had almost constantly been at war for the last two hundred years,
applying sanctions to them that makes them richer is not really going to have much effect except to encourage them.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, why do we have to do something?

Yes, there is a lot of hypocrisy involved here. For sure, Saudi is a disgusting regime (Iran is nowhere near as bad, and we boycott them because of US petulance), we didn't lift a finger when Russia was bombing Syria or its own breakaway republics. So what?

Those are distant countries about which we know little and care less. Ukraine is next door to us, and Putin has said quite clearly that other countries formerly controlled or now claimed by Russia - Transnistria, Baltics etc are next on the list. They are even closer to home.

George Carty said...

Bayard: "applying sanctions to them that makes them richer"

Isn't what actually happening that Russia is still making plenty of money from selling gas (that Europe and especially Germany cannot wean themselves off in the short run) but that its expenditure has collapsed because it can't buy imported goods due to the sanctions?

Much of the old industrial base that allowed the Soviet bloc to be more-or-less self-sufficient has now collapsed? Soviet industry was based on old technology dumb machines which required highly-skilled workers to operate (most of which are now dead or retired) while modern Russia relies on smart (CNC etc) machines that require less skill to operate, but which Russia must import from the West as it cannot manufacture them itself.

One well-publicised effect of the sanctions was thus that Russia can no longer make new tanks to replace the ones the Ukrainians are destroying.

Bayard said...

"we didn't lift a finger when Russia was bombing Syria or its own breakaway republics."

Probably because, at the time, we were too busy bombing Syria and places like Iraq or Afghanistan ourselves and thought it might be somewhat hypocritical, not that anyone cares about that any more.

Even if Putin has said that he will take over the Baltic republics, which he hasn't, they are still hardly much closer than Ukraine. Indeed, Russia is already closer to the UK than either the Baltics or Ukraine and Syria is actually closer to the UK than the Donbass area of Ukraine. Admittedly the Syrians have brown skins and the Ukranians white, but apart from that, before February 24th, most people didn't even know where Ukraine was. Even after that, Liz Truss was still uncertain.

Even if it was the case, which it isn't, that Russia was, as we are being urged to believe, that Russia was an evil regime bent on world domination, it is still the case that our "sanctions" are simply making Russia richer at the expense of the peoples of Western Europe. With enemies like this, why does Russia need friends?

"Its expenditure has collapsed"
If you mean it is now no longer importing manufactured goods but making them itself, yes. Why is that not a good thing. Money that would have been sent abroad to pay foreigners is now being kept at home to pay Russians.

Russia is perfectly able to make new tanks and is currently doing so. It has always had its own arms industry. It has also been helped by foreign owned firms deciding (or being told to) stop operating in Russia and selling them their production facilities at knock down prices. All the same workers, just now working for a Russian boss. All the profits that were being sent abroad to foreign shareholders are now remaining in the country.

"Sanctions" have been an embarrassing failure. It is hardly surprising that we are being told lies about how they will work, soon. All very reminiscent of another pack of lies, of which we wot well, where the disaster is always in the future, but people's lives are being made uncomfortable now, for the greater good.