Those sunny August days are fooling us – it’s a summer’s delusion that things aren’t as bad as they seem. Of course, blue skies are not a complete antidote to the ways of the world. The buzzing of background news is a constant reminder that we live in troubled times.
here’s a chilling undertone to the saber-rattling between the US and China. Chinese “military drills” reverberate with menace and menace; A world superpower plays off its military might.
Meanwhile, at home, the so-called livelihood crisis is provoking the biggest dent in living standards in recent years. The cost of groceries, fuel and mortgages are a barrage against consumers. When will this price spiral end?
There is uneasiness in the air about what the future holds. Most households cut back on spending, either out of necessity or by topping up their cash for bad times.
The murderous conflict in Ukraine casts a shadow over an entire continent. Living standards across Europe are threatened as the aftermath of the war drives up oil and gas prices.
“Who needs nuclear weapons when you have oil?” Vladimir Putin rejoices. The Kremlin leader knows that Europe’s dependence on Russian energy is now his strongest weapon.
But despite the slap in their pockets, European nations’ support for Ukraine remains remarkably firm. There is still emotional outrage over what is widely seen as a brutal and cruel Russian invasion.
But there are also signs that such a great consensus could crumble if living standards continue to fall as the war in Ukraine escalates into an endless conflict.
Sabina Higgins accidentally hit a nerve with her controversial comments about a possible peace deal between Ukraine and Russia. In the long term, governments will not get used to widespread public dissatisfaction with the cost of living.
The prices at the pump and the general economic crisis triggered the recent crisis in Italian politics. The consequences of the sanctions war with Russia continue to have an impact.
In Ireland, the troika of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Greens is holding up remarkably. But like elsewhere, the cost of living will test their abilities.
It is a little consoling that the turbulence here is not on par with, say, Germany. Over-reliance on Russian gas is worrying Berlin authorities, who are struggling to stabilize a deeply troubled economy.
Energy prices in the euro zone rose by more than 40 percent last year. The resulting inflation will in turn push up interest rates. A surge in mortgage payments will hit some Irish homeowners particularly hard. Our dysfunctional housing market has led many to overborrow.
Ukrainian authorities are aware of this war-triggered consumer pressure across the continent. Their fear is that this could weaken the collective will to oppose the Putin regime over economic sanctions or even military aid.
It was Sabina Higgins’ duty to make doubly clear that Russia is the aggressor, but her key point that the fighting must come to an end – eventually – cannot be ignored
Countries in Eastern Europe, always fearful of a Russian invasion, insist that any effort to take down Putin must be supported. Even in Germany, a country that has long had a complex relationship with Russia, there is a belief that the Kremlin’s expansionism must be confronted.
As it is, the war in Ukraine is no longer making headlines on late-night TV shows, but bloodshed continues on the battlefields.
A ceasefire seems impossible in the short term. Putin will not accept any proposal that does not leave Moscow in control of Crimea and the Russian-speaking Donbass region.
For Ukrainians who have endured so much heartbreak, any talk of ceding territory is sacrilege. The national sentiment remains that no inch of territory should be ceded to the enemy.
There has to be a clear winner – or a prospect of endless military attrition – before both sides get to the negotiating table.
It was Sabina Higgins’ duty to make doubly clear that Russia is the aggressor, but her key point that the fighting must come to an end – eventually – cannot be ignored.
How many will die in the coming months – and maybe years – before the guns go silent?
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/dont-let-sun-blind-us-to-vladimir-putins-darkest-ambitions-41888749.html Don’t let the sun blind you to Vladimir Putin’s darkest ambitions