By Charlie Kimber
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Gas prices soar as West and Russia ramp up proxy war in Ukraine

The US led a council of war at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, demanding more escalation in the proxy war with Russia
Issue 2803
Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine minister of defence, alongside Western military chiefs illustrating an article on the social consequences of the Ukraine war

Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine minister of defence, gives opening remarks at the Ukraine Defense Consultative Group at Ramstein Air Base on Tuesday. It’s another escalatory step in the Ukraine war (Picture: US Air Force)

The relentless rise in prices that’s strangling working class living standards took another lurch on Wednesday. As well as the surges already hitting workers, the widening war in Ukraine is also going to hurt millions.

European gas prices rose by a fifth after Russia company Gazprom suspended supplies to Poland and Bulgaria. It said they had failed to make payments that were due a day earlier in roubles. In response, the price of gas in Europe increased by almost 20 percent. 

Russia’s move is in retaliation for the brutal sanctions regime imposed by the West on its banks and exports. And the proxy war between the West and Russia is also extending further, threatening both reckless military escalation and an assault on living standards.

On Tuesday, US secretary of state Antony Blinken and defence secretary Lloyd Austin oversaw a council of war involving ministers and generals from 40 countries. It took place at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, the headquarters for the US Air Force in Europe and the Nato Air Command.

Attendees at the summit included many European states, but also Australia, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, South Korea and Tunisia. The Ukraine Defence Consultative Group will now meet regularly to ramp up war material supplies. Austin said afterwards, “We’ve got to move at the speed of war.”

The official US military.com website said, “Aid from the US and other nations has ramped up as the belief grows that Ukraine could actually win the war. On top of the commitments Tuesday, the US has provided 90 155mm howitzer cannons.” And that’s on top of “training, Mi-17 helicopters, armoured personnel carriers, radar systems, Switchblade drones, and the newly developed Phoenix Ghost drone”. 

Germany’s government has already said it would send heavy weapons to Ukraine for the first time. Defence minister Christine announced the shipment of anti-aircraft tanks known as the Gepard—meaning Cheetah. White House press secretary Jen Psaki oozed in response, “So, this is an unprecedented change to provide lethal aid to another country. But I’d also note that Norway provided Mistral anti-aircraft missiles.”

The British government seemed poised to make its own even greater escalation in the Ukraine war on Wednesday. Foreign secretary Liz Truss was due to say, “Heavy weapons, tanks, aeroplanes. We need to do all of this.” 

But deputy prime minister Dominic Raab did not go along with Truss and said only that the West should “listen very carefully to what the Ukrainians need”. Truss may say she wants only “plane parts” rather than squadrons of jets. In any case, Britain is in the forefront of pouring military supplies to Ukraine already.

Nato is driving relentlessly to wider war, threatening escalation to the use of nuclear weapons. And workers and the poor also face shattering price rises.

In a new example, the price of bread in Zimbabwe in southern Africa has doubled since the war began and is now over £1.50 a loaf. That’s well beyond even better-paid workers. Bring on the strikes, riots, mass demonstrations and revolutions against war and the effects of war across the world.

  • Buy a copy of Socialist Worker’s new pamphlet, Ukraine—no to Russian invasion, no to Nato escalation. £3 from our online shop

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