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The West shows fatigue over war in Ukraine

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I was in the hills of northern Italy last week, mostly on vacation but also curious to see how the war in Ukraine has affected life next door in Europe.

It wasn't hard to find the effects.

You're unhappy about $5 a gallon for gas? Try $8. "It's painful filling the tank," my friend Roberto Pesciani, a retired teacher, moaned.

Utility bills? The cost of natural gas is four times as high in Italy as in the United States.

"Heating prices are up. Grocery prices are up. Everything's going up," Pesciani said.

The worries go beyond inflation. Italy's foreign minister, Luigi Di Maio, warned recently that Russia's blockade on Ukraine's grain exports could spark a global bread war, producing famine in Africa and a new wave of migrants heading for Europe.

"The problem with sanctions on Russia is that they will only work if they hurt us, too," Pesciani observed.

The economic pain is creating political problems for European governments that have joined the U.S.-led campaign of sanctions against Russia: "Ukraine fatigue."

"It's here already," Nathalie Tocci, director of Italy's Institute of International Affairs, told me. "The pain (from sanctions) is far higher in Russia than in the West, of course, but our tolerance of pain is lower. So the question is which curve is steeper — Russia's ability to wage war or our........

© Olean Times Herald

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