G-7 Risking Greater Conflict with Russia

The conflict could explode

The government, people, and political elite of Pakistan seem largely unaware that the Russia-Ukraine war is taking a dangerous turn as the G-7, a powerful coalition of the world’s wealthiest and most resourceful countries, met in Italy (13-15 June, 2024) and while enjoying Italy’s legendary hospitality, took the decision to allow Ukraine to use US and Western arms, ammunition, drones, robots, missiles, and other weaponry to launch attacks within Russia.

Diplomatic efforts should focus on regional alliances and international aid. Cybersecurity measures and military preparedness must be prioritized to protect infrastructure and ensure national security. A crisis management task force should coordinate and monitor the plan to ensure effective implementation and adaptability

G-7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) have also decided to unfreeze Russian assets of $50 billion mainly parked in Europe and other parts of the world, which were frozen following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to fund Ukraine’s war efforts, including repaying the USA. and other Western countries that have been supplying weapons and military support to Ukraine.

These vital and highly sensitive and critical decisions are akin to poking Russia to react violently and take desperate and drastic actions to counter these moves and protect its interests.

Russia may intensify military operations in Ukraine, launching large-scale offensives targeting major cities and critical infrastructure. Additionally, Russia might employ its sophisticated cyber warfare capabilities to launch widespread cyber attacks against critical infrastructure in Ukraine, the USA, and Europe, disrupting power grids, financial systems, communication networks, and other essential services.

It could also use tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield in Ukraine to force a swift and decisive victory, though this would have catastrophic consequences and likely provoke a massive international response.

It may target Western supply lines and logistics hubs in NATO countries providing military aid to Ukraine, using missile strikes or sabotage to disrupt the flow of weapons and supplies and targeting NATO allies in Eastern Europe, such as Poland or the Baltic states to escalate the conflict to a broader regional war.

Beyond direct military actions, Russia could engage in economic warfare by cutting off energy supplies to Europe, shutting down pipelines, or disrupting energy exports, severely impacting European countries dependent on Russian energy. Covert operations and proxy warfare could also increase, with Russia supporting insurgent or terrorist groups within Europe and the US to create instability.

Diplomatic and political moves might involve strengthening alliances with countries opposed to US and European policies, such as China, North Korea and Iran, forming new economic or military alliances to counterbalance NATO and the G-7.

If Russia implemented its strategy, the USA and Europe may respond with a  comprehensive and coordinated approach by bolstering  their military presence in Eastern Europe, deploying additional troops and equipment, and increasing direct support to Ukraine with advanced weaponry and intelligence.

They may impose economic sanctions targeting key sectors of the Russian economy, such as energy and finance, and cyber countermeasures to strengthen defenses and retaliate against Russian attacks.

Diplomatically, they would isolate Russia internationally, rallying condemnation through forums like the UN and strengthening alliances with countries opposed to Russian actions.

Each of these actions carries significant risks and could lead to unpredictable and potentially catastrophic consequences, requiring careful international responses to avoid a broader and more devastating conflict. Moreover, the implementation of Russia’s aggressive strategy and NATO’s counter-strategy would severely impact weaker economies like Pakistan.

Disruptions in Russian energy supplies to Europe would cause global energy prices to soar. Pakistan, heavily reliant on energy imports, would face drastically increased fuel and electricity costs, straining its economy. This surge would lead to higher transportation, manufacturing, and household energy expenses, exacerbating inflation and reducing disposable income for its citizens.

The conflict would likely disrupt global supply chains, affecting shipping routes and logistics networks. Pakistan, which depends on imports for essential goods and raw materials, would experience delays and increased costs. This disruption could lead to shortages of critical items, higher import prices, and further inflation, negatively impacting both consumers and businesses.

Financial markets would experience significant volatility, with investors seeking safer assets amid the uncertainty. This could result in capital outflows from emerging markets like Pakistan, causing the Pakistani rupee to depreciate. A weaker currency would make imports more expensive, further fueling inflation and increasing the cost of servicing external debt, straining Pakistan’s financial stability.

Amid global economic instability, foreign direct investment (FDI) in weaker economies would likely decline as investors become more risk-averse. Reduced FDI would hinder economic growth and development projects in Pakistan, exacerbating unemployment and slowing down infrastructure and industrial development.

International aid and development funds might be redirected to address the humanitarian and economic impacts of the conflict in Europe. Pakistan could see a reduction in international assistance, leaving it with fewer resources to manage its economic challenges.

The combined effects of rising energy prices, trade disruptions, financial instability, reduced investment, and decreased aid would have severe socioeconomic impacts on Pakistan. Higher inflation would erode purchasing power, leading to increased poverty and social unrest. The government would face challenges in providing adequate public services and maintaining social stability amid growing economic hardships.

To safeguard its interests and economy from the aftershocks of the Russian strategy and NATO’s counter-strategy, Pakistan should implement a comprehensive contingency plan. This plan includes diversifying energy sources by investing in renewables and securing LNG imports while enhancing energy efficiency. Trade resilience should be bolstered by exploring new markets and supporting domestic production. Financial stability can be achieved by building foreign exchange reserves, encouraging remittances, and managing debt through restructuring and diverse borrowing. Attracting foreign investment through investor-friendly policies and special economic zones, alongside boosting domestic investment via public-private partnerships and local investor incentives, is crucial. Strengthening social safety nets with cash transfer programs and subsidies, and enhancing public services in healthcare, education, and employment are essential.

Diplomatic efforts should focus on regional alliances and international aid. Cybersecurity measures and military preparedness must be prioritized to protect infrastructure and ensure national security. A crisis management task force should coordinate and monitor the plan to ensure effective implementation and adaptability.

Qamar Bashir
Qamar Bashir
The writer retired as Press Secretary the the President, and is former Press Minister at Embassy of Paikistan to France and former MD, Shalimar Recording & Broadcasting Company Limited

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