Journalist Hafsa Kara-Mustapha says the West is using the war on Ukraine to steal billions from Russia, just like they did to Libya and Afghanistan.
The Champions League Final, scheduled for May 28 in St Petersburg in Russia, will now be held in the French capital Paris. The football governing body UEFA, in one swift move, has punished Russia over the Ukraine crisis.
The same UEFA that insists that sports and politics should not mix when calls for punitive measures against Israel and its treatment of Palestinians are made, decided in 24 hours that the two are indistinguishable.
Just as when Algerian judo player Fethi Nourine, who refused to compete against an Israeli athlete in the Summer Olympics in a show of solidarity with Palestine, was disqualified. He was consequently banned from international competitions for ten years, bringing, in effect, his sporting career to an end.
Today, however, a flurry of football teams are lining up to boycott Russia at international tournaments, while being praised for their “principled stance.” These double standards are utterly nauseating but hardly surprising.
Ethics, morality or even human dignity are of course the last things on the international football federation’s minds; just as these are hardly pressing matters for the Western governments that goaded Ukraine into joining Nato while remaining on the sidelines now the Russian bear has finally roared.
But ultimately this was never really about war, or Ukraine’s well-being or the application of the rule of law. This is a large scale shakedown, of epic proportions, that Western nations have become accustomed to.
Already, Gazprom, the Russian state-owned gas major, has had its $80m sponsorship deal suspended by UEFA. Given the support UEFA will enjoy from international bodies over this decision, the money will be confiscated even if Gazprom’s name will no longer appear as a major backer of the Champions League.
In any other similar situation this would be labelled “theft” but as all major Western media outfits are speaking with one voice of condemnation, presenting their audiences only one aspect of the conflict, backing for their illegal actions will be met with support.
Of course these financial punishments will not stop at football; in London Mayor Sadiq Khan has already called for the property and assets of Russian nationals – with connections to the Kremlin – to be seized. Who will determine the nature of the links is somewhat baffling yet irrelevant given that in the current war of words, truth is sidelined in favour of financial interests.
History of theft
Immediate freezing of assets and confiscation of wealth of nations suddenly accused of unspeakable crimes are nothing new. What is happening to Russia today is reminiscent of what happened to Libya over ten years ago.
When Western nations decided that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi should no longer be leader of his country – a blatant violation of Libya’s sovereignty – (but since when do Global South countries have a sovereignty worthy of respect anyway?…but I digress) calls for the freezing of Libyan wealth held outside the country were immediately made and implemented.
This came on the back of an unprecedented price hike in oil, in the years prior, that led the then Libyan leadership to launch a massive shopping spree across western capitals. Through the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), the country purchased scores of prime real estate in major western capitals as well as shares in notable businesses to the tune of billions. Those assets were frozen overnight never to be returned to their rightful owners.
In 2018, Belgian papers reported that some Eur 10bn had simply vanished from the Euroclear bank in which both the LIA and LAFICO (Libyan foreign investment company) had placed their funds. And that’s just Belgium. With Libya still in turmoil, returning those monies is not even on the agenda. By the time the country recovers some form of stability, the very financial institutions will have disappeared and been rebranded, ready to fleece a new generation of non-Western countries.
Venezuela for its part placed its gold bullion in England’s Central Bank. When presidential elections returned left-wing leader Nicolas Maduro, Westminster decided that his opponent Juan Guaido was his only rightful successor and the country was consequently prevented from accessing its own gold reserves. Although a court action launched by Caracas ordered the precious commodity to be restored to its rightful owners, the decision was overturned by Britian’s Supreme Court in December 2021. The country’s gold is therefore still held in a British institution while the population of Venezuela continues to experience economic hardship.
Following the humiliating withdrawal of the Nato-lead coalition from Afghanistan, Western media was enlisted to tell us that the population of the war-torn country was facing imminent famine. In light of this worrying news you’d expect Western nations, who’d once claimed to have gone into Afghanistan for humanitarian purposes, to provide much needed relief.
Instead the U.S. President announced that money collected from the country’s natural resources over the past 20 years would be given to American families who’d lost relatives on 9/11. Needless to say that these families had already been financially compensated through various forms, were not facing economic hardship and were being given money from a people that played no role in the New York attack of 2001.
Stealing from the poor to feed the rich is not a mere expression but a central tenant of America’s foreign policy.
Today as promises of military aid for Ukraine have failed to materialise, Western support is reduced to hollow gestures such as lightings on landmarks. The West’s only concrete response has been to brazenly confiscate as much money from Russia through as many means as it possibly can. As for sanctions even if effective in the long term (and that’s a very big if given Russia’s resources and technologically advanced economy) these are unlikely to have an immediate effect likely to bring the fighting to an immediate end.
And while Western public opinion will eventually realise the extent of the scam, as they did with Iraq, Libya, Syria etc… by the time decisive action can be taken, Russia’s billions will have disappeared in the meanders of the “global” financial system,” specifically set up to fleece millions across the world.
Ukraine would do well to remember that while it won’t get military aid in the form of boots on the ground, the West will however be reaping financial rewards, though no doubt Volodymyr Zelensky might get his share of the spoils.