LettersGermany’s seizure of Rosneft assets sets a bad precedent in Ukraine war
- Readers worry other European countries will also start seizing Russian assets, criticise Nato’s ‘Goldilocks’ approach to supporting Ukraine, and explain why the conflict is nothing like the 1974 Cyprus war
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, countries in Europe have struggled with Russia and its critical supply of natural gas. Control over this economic lifeline has allowed Russia to stand firm despite the economic sanctions applied by western Europe.
Since then, it has not said when the pipeline can resume operation. Germany has slammed this as “part of Russia’s psychological war”.
Weeks later, Germany seized Russian oil firm Rosneft’s German operations, which include stakes in three German refineries, to secure its energy supply and cut its dependence on Russia. According to Al Jazeera, Germany can run the refining operations itself using supplies from countries other than Russia to counter its energy crisis.
Though clearly taken for a public purpose, Germany’s move is, however, questionable when the other three factors are evaluated. Germany’s position on the war has made it hard to believe it is seizing the oil firm on a non-discriminatory basis.
There has also been no announcement or message showing Germany offering compensation to Russia, and again, that’s unlikely to happen given the German position on the war.
Now that Germany has taken the step, the question is whether other European countries, say the UK, would do the same? Yet such a move is clearly unfair to businesses. No matter how bad the war is or how relationships between governments deteriorate, all expropriation processes must still be based on international law, and respect the spirit of the rule of law.
The war has caused Germany to go to its limits to secure its interest. As the struggle over energy supply intensifies, other countries in Europe may be driven to do the same. This would be detrimental to fundamental rights.
Lew Guan Xi, Selangor, Malaysia
Nato’s ‘just enough’ support is drawing out war
Still, the conduct of Nato and its allies in Ukraine isn’t exemplary. When US President Joe Biden and European leaders told the world they wouldn’t directly intervene militarily in the conflict nor provide vital military capability for Ukraine to reasonably defend its sovereignty, Putin knew that Russia’s military was free to cross into Ukraine.
Western allies have adopted a “Goldilocks” approach to the military support of Ukraine. They’ve given Ukraine just enough weapons to keep Russia ensconced in a protracted and costly war, but not so much support that it would risk Putin ordering a strike on Europe’s emerald cities.
A prolonged war in Ukraine earns super profits for global defence corporations which provide equipment, weapons and the advanced systems to go with them. Nations also jostle over lucrative post-war reconstruction contracts.
Morally, should Western allies give Ukraine the required military capability and increased weapons flow to liberate and protect it from Russian occupation, or continue with its Goldilocks military approach, which extends the conflict?
The war in Ukraine has significantly heightened distrust among nations. Political leaders have a shared responsibility to prevent another global arms race – nobody wants to see a second cold war nuclear arms race. Besides, many weapons of mass destructions being developed can never be rationally deployed because of the risk of mutual self-destruction.
Hardline ideology is humanity’s Achilles’ heel and our likely downfall. Rapidly evolving changes to the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, cryosphere and biosphere are increasingly affecting its liveability for us. These adverse changes are occurring as nations continue to disagree over ideology. It’s to our detriment that diversity continues to divide rather than define.
Michael Walton, New South Wales, Australia
Ukraine conflict nothing like 1974 Cyprus war
Visiting Cyprus, I found the island to be a paradise on earth with one rather incongruous feature: minefields. The 1974 conflict between Cyprus and Türkiye lasted just four weeks, simply because no side was given military support by either Europe or Russia. It’s a different kettle of fish with Ukraine.
As the West has begun sending its weapons to Nato countries in the area, we are being forced to look at demilitarising those Nato countries as well. The Kremlin is no doubt pleased with the spillover.
And the conflict there (I am not allowed by Russian law to use a more suitable word) is most likely going to end in a much smaller Ukraine, unsupported militarily by the West and unwanted as a territorial acquisition by Russia.
Mergen Mongush, Moscow