July 2022 \ Editor's Desk \ Editor’s Desk
Editor’s Desk

The world today, more than anything else, is aligned against the oppressors of free speech and the liberty of man. Free speech that, of course, is not of the hateful or the sordid kinds, but the one that expresses the human desire to live and speak without having to feel fear of state reprisal and imprisonment...

By Sayantan Chakravarty

 President Joe Biden’s first trip to Saudi Arabia after taking over office was an all-out effort to seek more crude oil to keep the American economy from slipping. During, and before COVID-19 had peaked, US gas prices were as low as USD 3 per gallon. According to the American Automobile Association, in mid-July, the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in the US stood at about USD 4.53. Senior advisor for energy security in the US State Department, Amos Hochstein says the price should drop to around USD 4 per gallon in the near future. He expressed confidence that after President Biden undertook a trip to Saudi Arabia in July, in the forthcoming weeks there would be increased oil production in the region. Although not confirmed, there is also room for similar increase in some other Gulf countries.

At the other end of the spectrum is the genuine fear that Russia will quickly weaponize energy. If Russia shuts down gas supply through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline completely, it could plunge the GDP in vulnerable EU countries by as much as six percent according to warnings issued by the IMF. Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are three EU countries likely to suffer the most. But the IMF cautions that even Italy, Germany and Austria would feel significant effects of the shutdown.

Meanwhile, an estimated 3.8 million Russians have left the country in the first three months of 2022, according to data from Russia’s Federal Security Service. German broadcaster Deutsche Welle points out that neither Georgia nor Armenia require Russians to have an entry visa. Georgia alone expects over one hundred thousand Russian refugees. Armenia has reported a similar number. Other destinations include Azerbaijan, Dubai, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and even Tajikistan, Mongolia and Latin America.

Many are also heading to countries that already have large Russian communities, such as Montenegro and the Baltic states, including Latvia. Others who had the opportunity to emigrate to Israel or Western Europe—especially Germany—have seized the chance.

Earlier in 2022, directors, writers, fashion designers, architects, journalists, techies and celebrities were among the first to flee from Russia after people sensed that a special military operation was on the anvil in Ukraine. According to the Russian Association for Electronic Communications, by March about seventy thousand technology workers had fled Russia. The figure may have doubled as of now.

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