Russia’s attack on Ukraine is the first war of a first-rate power against a Western nation since the end of World War ii. And what has been the United States’ and other Western nations’ response? Economic sanctions. This has been the go-to foreign-policy tool to try to coerce and punish regimes that oppose the status quo of the balance of power. Russia has more or less faced sanctions constantly for the past 30 years, but the latest round of sanctions is intended to isolate and cut off Russia’s economy from the West.
The sanctions include freezing assets of Russian oligarchs, banning its imports and exports, targeting luxury goods, restricting travel for Russian officials, and halting all flights from Russia. The U.S. banned transactions with the Central Bank of Russia, meaning Russia cannot access foreign assets it has in U.S. dollars or do international business with U.S. dollars. The “nuclear option” of the sanctions is excluding some Russian banks from swift, the main payment method used by businesses around the world.
Will these sanctions stop Russia?
In truth, no. They will hurt the U.S. and the English-speaking peoples more than they will hurt Russia.
In fact, these sanctions are actually hastening a revolution in the global economic framework—a revolution that is prophesied in the Bible.
The sanctions had an immediate impact on the Russian economy: After some banks were banned from swift and Russia could not access $600 billion in foreign assets, the ruble plunged 30 percent. These are devastating short-term effects.
However, the very same nations imposing these sanctions are paying Putin’s Russia $1 billion a day for oil and natural gas. This is the underlying flaw in any measures meant to punish Putin: The global energy supply is so interconnected to Russia that it is impossible to cripple Russia’s economy without harming one’s own nation. This is due largely to deliberate economic policies by Western nations to stop producing their own oil and gas in favor of green-energy initiatives.
“Russian gas made up 42 percent of Europe’s gas imports via pipeline alone. Shutting that off would create painful economic fallout for European countries that are already grappling with the specter of high inflation,” reported Politico (February 24). Europe imports $31.9 billion of petroleum oils and crude, $14.9 billion of other petroleum products, and $8 billion of natural gas. Europe also consumes 45.2 percent of Russian mineral exports (including energy). The total amount Europe paid Russia in 2020 for mineral imports ($64.1 billion) exceeded the Russian military budget for that year ($61.7 billion).
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. imported 245 million barrels of crude oil and petroleum products from Russia in 2021, a 79 percent increase over four years ago. Canada was the only nation to ban the import of crude oil from Russia, but Canada has not imported any since 2019. Canada will still import $550 million of refined petroleum from Russia each year.
Even banning certain Russian banks from swift appears worse than it actually is. The banks not banned are most likely those needed for importing Russian energy. Even the banks banned from swift can still do business with Western nations; it simply requires an alternative method of payment.
These sanctions are merely face-saving measures by world leaders whose energy policies have empowered Putin financially and politically to invade Ukraine. Western leaders act like Putin’s military ambition can be thwarted through emotional speeches, strongly worded social media posts, or even financial sanctions. All evidence shows that the only thing that will stop Putin is force.
What is worse, these sanctions are actually hastening the decline not of Russia’s economy and international power, but of America’s.
The Real Consequences
In the short term, these sanctions will actually hammer Americans with stagflation. “Today’s crisis represents a geopolitical quantum leap. Its long-term implications and significance can hardly be overstated,” wrote Project Syndicate. “The war in Ukraine will trigger a massive negative supply shock in a global economy that is still reeling from covid-19 and a yearlong buildup of inflationary pressures. The shock will reduce growth and further increase inflation at a time when inflation expectations are already becoming unanchored” (February 25).
The United States has the ability to use economic sanctions around the world because the U.S. dollar is the world’s reserve currency, as JP Morgan ceo Jamie Dimone explained on March 1: “The widespread use of the dollar in international markets, for instance, allows the United States to affect foreign-policy goals through financial market channels … and may also confer certain reputational benefits ….” That is how the U.S. is undermining Russia’s economy and influencing swift.
But what happens if Russia fights back economically? Dimone continued: “However, overuse of these powers could compel other actors to try to replace dollar transactions, as Russia already did to some extent following earlier sanctions.” Is it possible that by extending economic sanctions, the U.S. has opened the door for other world powers to replace the dollar as the global reserve currency?
“Aside from the immediate collateral damage, excluding Russian banks from swift risks longer-term consequences for international finance,” wrote the editors at Bloomberg. “As with any network …, the value of swift depends on the number of banks that use it. … The example of Russia could prompt others—such as China—to turn to alternatives, fragmenting the payments system and potentially even undermining the U.S. dollar’s dominance as the global reserve currency. One could even imagine a future in which rival nations turned similar financial weapons against the U.S.” The Asian power bloc is uniquely positioned to make this threat a reality.
The current situation in Ukraine reveals that Europe is so integrated with Russian energy and minerals that the Continent cannot cut off Russia economically without facing ruin itself. Data from the World Integrated Trade Solution shows that China is far and away Russia’s most important trade partner already. Western financial and economic punishments against Russia will motivate it to work with China even more closely. Shortly after Russian banks were removed from the swift system for international payments, shares for China’s Cross-Border Interbank Payment System surged.
Some have noted that when China is ready to invade Taiwan, it will be sure to shed U.S. dollars first. China holds $1.1 trillion in U.S. debt, giving it a potent financial weapon against America.
We are facing a turning point in monetary history. And all these developments are leading to the fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
The Mart of Nations
Jesus Christ called the period just before His return “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24). After centuries of domination by the modern-day Israelites, principally Britain and America, the balance of power will shift dramatically to non-Israelite power blocs, especially a European resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire led by Germany, and an Asian alliance of Russia, China and other large Asian nations. These powers possess considerable economic strength. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry writes in China’s Dangerous Move Against America: “Some 2,700 years ago, God inspired the Prophet Isaiah to sound the alarm about a massive trade bloc that would form in the end time. Isaiah 23:3 describes it as a ‘mart of nations.’”
Verse 1 shows that a lead nation in this trade bloc will be “Chittim.” Mr. Flurry proves in Isaiah’s End-Time Vision (free upon request) that Chittim is an ancient name for China. This chapter shows that this trade bloc also includes “Tyre,” a name representing the commercial center of modern Europe. A related passage in Ezekiel 27 shows that Russia and Japan will also join this “mart.”
This mart of nations is a trade bloc combining a European empire and Asian nations, and it will exclude Britain and America. The sole purpose of this economic alliance is to destroy the English-speaking peoples, especially the American superpower. Prophecies in Deuteronomy 28:52 and Ezekiel 4:4-5 reveal that the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21) begins with this economic siege by this mart of nations, as Mr. Flurry explains in Ezekiel—The End-Time Prophet This time of terrible suffering caused by national sins and satanic attacks begins with a trade war. “Should Europe, the resurrected Holy Roman Empire, find a way to take advantage—even for a moment—of key resources and strategic holdings of China, Russia and Japan, it would have more than enough power to besiege the Anglo-Saxon nations and enslave them,” Mr. Flurry writes in Isaiah’s End-Time Vision.
Is this the moment Germany, Russia and China need to seize economic control away from America? Is Russia’s pivot away from swift the spark that will help form this mart of nations?
The suffering in Ukraine is only the beginning of the suffering the times of the Gentiles will inflict on the world. Watch closely for the fulfillment of this crucial end-time prophecy.