Israel's tortured choice on Russia
Comment of the Day

March 10 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Israel's tortured choice on Russia

This article from the Jerusalem Post may be of interest. Here is a section:

So, perhaps Jerusalem is right to walk a fine line with Moscow and prioritize strategic over moral concerns. Perhaps, but it’s distressingly difficult to watch. In essence, Israel has muted its voice as Russia slaughters Ukrainian innocents, while threatening the liberal order from which Israel greatly benefits.

Strategically, Israel is heavily dependent on Russia in at least two ways. First, Russia controls most of the airspace over Syria, and has permitted Israel to strike targets there, including Iranian weapons facilities, as well as weapons convoys designed for Lebanon’s Hezbollah terrorist group, which is positioned just over Israel’s northern border.

Second, Russia is one of five permanent UN Security Council members and, as such, is participating in negotiations in Vienna over reviving the 2015 global nuclear deal with Iran. While Washington seeks to resuscitate the deal in hopes of restraining Iran’s nuclear progress, Jerusalem fears that a new deal will pose the same problems as the original one – including sunset dates for restrictions on Iranian nuclear activities, a weak international regime for inspecting Iranian nuclear sites, and no curbs on Iran’s related and growing ballistic missile program.   

Eoin Treacy's view

Most of the financial market commentary has focused on the strategic resources and oil exports Russia represented. That tends to ignore the fact Russia is a geopolitical heavyweight with stakes in most of the world’s pressure points for strife. Cutting it off from the financial and economic world will exacerbate its appetite to cause trouble in the geopolitical theatre.

Israel has been singled out for criticism but this is a topic many non-OECD countries are dealing with too. Most have refrained from joining in on the sanctions. China and India are the two largest consumers of oil in that group and non-OECD consumption growth is where all the growth in demand is coming from. That’s being driven by the twin themes of population growth and economic development.

This suggests that just like Iran’s oil finds a market, so will Russia’s. Wheat exports through the Black Sea started again yesterday. Of course, we are also seeing non-OECD countries come under a great deal of scrutiny for their sanction busting trading practices; as NATO tries to turn the screws on Russia. The targeting of Dubai’s financial sector for investigation is one example. 

Surging commodity prices threaten to unhinging social equilibrium in many Middle Eastern, African, and Asian countries. They will have no choice but to trade with whomever is a willing seller of the commodities they need for survival. That suggests completely cutting Russia off is no simple task.

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