Tension in Eastern Europe propels PH oil prices sky high
The Philippine Left blames the United States of America for the escalating tension in Eastern Europe as several North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-member countries announced the first wave of sanctions against the Russian Federation following its recognition of two regions in Ukraine as “independent”.
In a statement, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said the US is provoking Russia by pushing for Ukraine’s inclusion into NATO and by taking measures to oppose the commercial operations of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines.
Russia considers Ukraine’s NATO inclusion a “red line” as it would allow the US and its military allies to position troops, tanks, missiles and other military matériel right next to its border, the CPP said.
“Russia fears that the inclusion of Ukraine into the NATO, which is being compared to Mexico joining a Chinese- or Russian-led alliance, will reinforce the US network of military bases in its state of Alaska, in Poland, Romania and other countries close to the Russian border,” the group revealed.
War and oil, again
The CPP said that to further provoke Russia, the US has been opposing Nord Stream 2, a natural gas pipeline that is capable of transporting twice the amount that is currently being supplied by Russia to Germany, France, Italy and the rest of western Europe.
The group said that the US demands that Europe buy US shale oil and thus favor American fracking interests, going as far as arm-twisting Germany to turn back on its contracts with Russia.
The CPP said that Russia’s positioning of tanks and an estimated 100,000 troops in its western borders with Ukraine, as well as in the southern borders of Belarus are clearly part of Russia’s political and diplomatic tactics to oppose moves for Ukraine’s inclusion into the NATO and seal its agreements for the operation of the Nord Stream 2.
“Russia is pushing for renewed negotiations to reaffirm previous agreements surrounding the Donbass region, explicit prohibition of the eastward expansion of NATO to Ukraine and other countries, and a ban on US and NATO intermediate-range missile in countries within striking distance of Russia,” the CPP said.
Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin earlier this week signed declarations recognizing the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic in the Donbass region west of Ukraine as independent.
Russia has repeatedly accused the Ukrainian government of political persecution of Russian-speaking residents in the region who expressed desire for independence from Kiev.
Russia has also conducted military exercises with Belarus the NATO allege is in preparation for the “imminent invasion” of Ukraine.
On Tuesday, February 22, Western media reported that Putin has sent hundreds of tanks into the Donbass Region.
Russia said its new troop disposition are in preparations for “peace-keeping missions.”
The US and the United Kingdom countered the development by announcing its planned sanctions against several Russian banks and businessmen.
The CPP however said that should war break out in the region, the US military industrial complex and its Department of Defense stand to benefit the most.
The US government has allotted a record $768 billion 2022 budget for its defense department, the group said.
“After withdrawing from Afghanistan, the US imperialists are bent on inciting another long-drawn armed conflict onto which it can pour its surplus arms and induce production of more weapons,” it added.
How the tension affects the Philippines
The tension in Ukraine has deeply affected the Philippines with weekly oil price increases for nine weeks running since the year started.
Gasoline prices now cost more than Php80 per liter in Puerto Princesa City and in other cities outside of the National Capital Region.
Transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON) said it is time to re-nationalize the Philippine oil industry to better protect the people during international crises that impact global oil prices.
In yet another protest rally in Quezon City, jeepney drivers said steep oil prices prevent them plying their routes that worsen the country’s transportation woes under the global coronavirus pandemic.
Food traders, such as canned sardine manufacturers, have given public notice of their plan to increase prices due to the weekly oil price hikes.
PISTON also demanded the removal of the oil excise tax and the imposition of price control mechanisms to halt oil price hikes.
The removal of the excise tax on oil with make gasoline and diesel prices cheaper by at least six pesos per liter, the group said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)