The European Escalator

Commenting about the war in Ukraine is a scary proposition. I feel whatever I write will be dated by publication time. It’s moving fast and not in a good direction. I can’t help but feel it is going to get both worse and more complicated before it is over.

I got up this morning and turned on the water to brush my teeth; it worked – oh, and the house was warm. Then the toilet flushed – I have several in the house that work. I hit the power switch on the Keurig to warm the water for tea – no issue there either. I could go on but you get the idea. I am living a normal working class to middle class life in an advanced country. Not so for my Ukrainian brothers and sisters.

Tomorrow my day will probably commence very similarly. Not so for many of my Ukrainian brothers and sisters.

Things are bad in Ukraine and I feel they will only get worse in the near term. Since the beginning of the war about 5% of the population has fled. That doesn’t seem like a lot until you put it in perspective. It’s like the entire population of Pennsylvania exiting the United States and taking every person in Utah with them on the way out. Can you imagine how you would feel if you woke up tomorrow and found that both Pennsylvania and Utah were suddenly depopulated?

To date the western effort has almost exclusively been sanctions based with the sanctions increasing hourly it seems. Tuesday a huge step was taken when the United States and the United Kingdom announced petroleum sanctions. I have to make a few comments about them to put this aspect in perspective.

President Biden announced complete American sanctions on Russian oil and in doing so simply acknowledged a political reality. Congress, with rare wide spread bi-partisan consensus, was about to enact them anyway. Biden simply got ahead of domestic politics. Russian oil is a minor portion of our petroleum consumption so it can easily be replaced. Gasoline prices will go up due to speculation more than anything else. I’m sure come election time the Republicans will blame Biden and the Democrats despite them having supported it and effectively forcing his hand. This may not have been a wise political move on Biden’s part but it did show leadership and recognition of the inevitable.

Here is the bottom line on oil sanctions: they are inevitable and will only be effective if all like minded parties participate.
The UK is phasing in its ban on Russian oil. The rest of Europe is doing nothing as of this writing. The continent, and to a lesser extent the UK, is much more reliant on Russian oil for heating and fueling automobiles. Politically a ban in those countries is much bolder and most politicians simply don’t have the courage; at this point at anyway.

There is much debate over the wisdom of instituting a no fly zone over Ukraine. At this point none of the NATO countries are willing to touch it. The closest they seem to be willing to come is for NATO countries with Russian made jets to give then to Ukraine (compatibility issues) and have them backfilled by American made jets.

Again, I think we are facing an inevitability in that some semblance of a no fly zone will have to be established over Ukraine. It probably won’t be a traditional no fly zone – I can’t see where we would like our pilots going nose to nose with Russian pilots – but Russian air superiority will have to be neutralized in the not that distant future.

Allow me, someone with no military background or training, to make three military comments/observations. Russian should have overwhelming air superiority. To date that hasn’t been the case. I feel it can only be a matter of time.

Also, Russia has incredibly overwhelming naval superiority and that becoming a factor is in my mind inevitable.

On the ground, Ukraine may have a prayer. If this becomes effectively urban warfare the turf, and the passion defending home turf brings with it, may give Ukrainian defenders a fighting chance (certainly no pun intended!).

I don’t like the idea of paying $5 or $6 a gallon for gasoline but I am willing to pay that price to defend democracy; it’s a lot better than no heat, water or electricity when I wake up. This war is like a slow escalator ride; the price of it is going up.

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One thought on “The European Escalator”

  1. And is it patriotic for the oil companies to take advantage of this opportunity to gouge us?

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