Commentary: U.S. profits from Ukraine crisis at the cost of European allies

(Xinhua) 13:17, April 07, 2022

BEIJING, April 7 (Xinhua) -- While pressuring the Europeans to scale up sanctions against Russia amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the United States ramped up imports of Russian oil by about 43 percent from March 19 to 25 compared to the previous week.

Surprising no one, the real initiator of the Russia-Ukraine conflict is standing poised to rake in huge profits from the crisis at the expense of its European allies.

After adding fuels and fanning flames to the ongoing crisis, Washington is now ready to "loot burning houses."

As experts have pointed out, the conflict has bonded Europe and the United States more tightly than ever in terms of energy supply while offering Washington an opportunity to reinforce its dominant role in the European security order.

Since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the U.S. government has been pushing other Western countries to join it in providing Ukraine with money and weapons and pound Russia with indiscriminate sanctions, fanning flames to the crisis and stirring up hostilities across Europe.

U.S. Treasury has also set a deadline to end deals on oil and coal imports from Russia until April 22, which has increased pressure on Europe to follow suit.

It is a tough choice for the European Union, which imports around 40 percent of its natural gas from Russia.

Joining the boycott of Russian oil means the bloc itself will feel the full brunt of the fallout of the sanctions, including soaring energy bills and surging inflations, as the United States only gets meager amounts of oil and no natural gas from Russia.

While Russia's gas exports to Europe shrink sharply, the United States, one of the world's largest producers of natural gas, is more than ready to fill the gap and "help" its European allies wean off Russian energy supplies.

In March, U.S. liquefied natural gas exports grew nearly 16 percent to a record high, according to preliminary Refinitiv data, with shipments to Europe continuing to dominate.

Meanwhile, the ongoing conflict will bring huge revenues to U.S. arms manufacturers, and the military-industrial complex will profit off the crisis in the long run, with continued lobbying for a more confrontational approach and higher defense spending.

Experts said that there are at least three ways in which the Russia-Ukraine conflict will bring additional sales to U.S. arms dealers: U.S. arms aid to Ukraine, ballooning U.S. defense budget, and growing defense budgets in many European countries.

Immediately after the Russia-Ukraine conflict broke out in late February, President Joe Biden announced that the United States would provide 350 million dollars in military aid to Ukraine. On March 16, Biden announced an additional 800 million dollars in security assistance to Ukraine.

According to a White House fact sheet, the two rounds of assistance package include 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, 4,600 Javelin anti-armor systems, five Mi-17 helicopters and over 20 million rounds of small arms ammunition and grenade launcher and mortar rounds, among others.

Meanwhile, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has led to growing bipartisan consensus to increase the already elevated defense budget, with the Congress approving its largest-ever defense spending bill just weeks after, more than the president requested. The 1.5-trillion government funding bill allocates 782 billion toward defense, 5.7-percent larger than the previous year's package.

Defense contractors are also eyeing additional sales in Europe, where several countries, including Germany, have announced they will increase defense budgets in light of the recent conflict.

U.S. defense firms are the indisputable top producers of the world's weapons. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the world's top five arms companies have all been American since 2018, and the United States accounted for 39 percent of global military expenditure in 2020.

Lockheed Martin, the world's top weapons manufacturer, saw its stock price surge over 25 percent since the start of the year, while the stock price of Raytheon Technologies is 17 percent higher.

Company executives had foreseen this. In a January earnings call, Lockheed Martin CEO James Taiclet highlighted the "renewed great power competition," noting that it would lead to higher defense budgets and additional sales. Raytheon Technologies CEO Greg Hayes, meanwhile, said the company expected to see "opportunities for international sales" amid the tension in Eastern Europe and other geopolitical tensions.

Quite indeed! For Washington, bloody suffering of others can always be turned into golden opportunities for profits. Yet while Washington tries all the way to maximize its self-interests at the cost of others, it is also inevitably revealing its true color of hypocrisy and egomania before the eyes of the world. 

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Hongyu)


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