The war that started in late February 2022 is not just a war now. It’s a full-blown European Energy Emergency (EEE) coupled with a food and economic calamity too. The eminently avoidable and bloody proxy war that the United States –dominated NATO is fighting against Russia through the agency of the puppet regime of corruption–ridden Zelensky seems to have backfired and spiralled into a major energy and food crisis for the whole of Europe.
The looming energy crisis is only growing bigger by the day and threatens to unsettle the European economy and indeed the regional political equations as both intended and unintended consequences cascade uncontrollably into another year with no end in sight. Amidst deepening worries of a serious nuclear escalation in the ongoing conflict between Russia versus the US and NATO puppet Ukraine, most Europeans have already been engulfed by the punishingly infamous sub-zero winters of Europe. The arc furnaces are shut, the heaters aren not whizzing and the utter chaos has led to massive protests against the energy and food crisis across big cities in Europe. It’s as if the pall of the gloomy nuclear winter has descended onto the whole of Europe.
Sanctions and Counter Sanctions
Almost immediately post the declaration of the “Special Military Operation” by Russia on February 21, 2022, the US and Europe declared a slew of sanctions against Russia. Russia responded to the US and European sanctions with retaliatory sanctions against energy supplies to Europe. On August 31, 2022, Russia halted supplies of gas to Europe via the Nord Stream pipeline on the pretext of maintenance. The aftershocks of the US–led sanctions against Russia and counter sanctions by Russia in the form of energy sanctions against Europe have reverberated across global energy trade, ever since the ‘sanctions’ war erupted within the war that Russia is fighting in Ukraine. By now it is very clear that it’s not a Ukraine-Russia war but a NATO-Russia, nay, a US-Russia proxy war. Ukraine is merely a pawn in the geopolitical game of absolute global domination.
The aftershocks of the US–led sanctions against Russia and counter sanctions by Russia in the form of energy sanctions against Europe have reverberated across global energy trade, ever since the ‘sanctions’ war erupted within the war that Russia is fighting in Ukraine
Russia is one of the world’s top three crude oil producers along with Saudi Arabia and USA, according to International Energy Agency (IEA). Russia is also the world’s second largest producer of natural gas, behind the United States and boasts of the world’s largest natural gas reserves. It is also the world’s largest exporter of natural gas. Russia is by far the single largest supplier of energy to Europe. In fact since 2001, Russia’s share in the natural gas supply to Europe and the UK has increased from 25 per cent to 32 per cent in 2022, according to IEA. Specific to natural gas imports from Russia to Europe, in 2021, the supply stood at 45 per cent of total supply and 40 per cent of demand. These are massive numbers and easily explain why Russia has had the European economy in a tailspin via the shock delivered to the European Energy market.
Come to think of it now, in retrospect, the sanctions on Russia might have been hurtful but their impact on Europe has been no less devastating. This article is not delving into the consequent impact of the energy crisis on food availability and the economy in general but these sectors too are deep in the crisis zone. Yet, the sanctions on the Russian energy sector is exactly what Suriya Jayanti of the American magazine Time recommended in an article published on February 26, 2022. “…let us at least make it truly hurt by including embargoes of Russian energy, too.”, it aggressively noted.
The ex-post data is now rife with evidence that the energy sanctions have not hurt the Russian energy sector as much as Russian energy sanctions have hurt the European counterpart. This is what happens when you listen to advice from ‘narrative fixers’ because they’d tell the ‘Deep State’ they work for what the ‘Deep State’ wants to hear rather than what’s in the best interest of humanity.
The European and then the retaliatory Russian sanctions brought to an abrupt pause, if not to an end, the cooperative and accommodative international relations policy between Russia and Europe, forged in the decades following the division of Germany into East and West Germany. This policy was famously named “Ostpolitik”, a policy branded by German Chancellor Willy Brandt in 1969. Ostpolitik was specifically designed to address cooperation on the subject of Russian gas imports to Germany and Europe. Needless to say, the Ostpolitik Culture is now in deep frost if not under permafrost.
An Old Rivalry
Let it be clear that the Russia-Europe energy entente has been fishing in troubled waters since much before the US-Russia proxy war in Ukraine. Nord Stream 2, the successor to Nord Stream 1, was completed in 2021 but not before vehement opposition by United States, which stands to directly benefit (via the LNG exporters’ lobby) by trillions of dollars over the entire design-built lifetime and by the failure of the operationalisation of Nord Stream 2. This pipeline now awaits operationalisation and consequent to the Western proxy war, its future now hangs in the balance.
It must be understood that exporting gas by the US to Europe would raise the price of gas for Americans because of simple demand-supply dynamics. The fact that the so-called anti-war Liberal regime of a Democrat–led US Government looked unmindful of the prospect of a war that would lead to spiralling gas prices due to export of LNG to Europe is interesting and revealing. The political practice of the “Liberal” Democrats, when seen through the prism of their own political ideology, shows complete incongruity to their own touchstones of Liberalism, for their actions clearly speak of an industrial-military complex that’s ever so hungry for a war irrespective of whose expense expense even if it’s the American people, as long as it’s not themselves.
Consequently, the spot purchase price of European gas has soared to unprecedented levels and exceeded the equivalent of USD 250 per barrel of oil. What further complicates the situation is the consequent spike in inflation. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Damocles Sword of economic recession in Europe has begun to hang heavy. Amidst the emerging humanitarian crisis and tragedy, the hydra-headed sceptre of fossil fuel energy has raised its head, the blame of which rests entirely with the Western world.
Who Stands to Gain?
The fossil fuel companies of Europe and the US have had a windfall profit of a whooping USD 2 trillion. Both Europe and the US have accused each other at the expense of the other in the cover of the aftermath of the war of sanctions amidst the Ukraine war itself. In the wrangle, it is becoming self-evident that the natural-gas rich US is raking in dollars at the expense of European nations. However, the US administration refuses to accept this position. The US Assistant Secretary Brad Crabtree has suggested that it’s in fact the European off-takers that were benefitting from the arbitrage between the US and European prices. That’s a very tough swallow. Why would the US energy producers allow that to happen? The US energy producers are no ‘babe in the woods’ and surely know how to do business and they’d never let such a golden war-time opportunity slip by them much less someone else make money at their expense.
The US is the world’s largest LNG exporter along with Qatar. In any case, in the ultimate analysis, all of the USD 2 trillion worth of loot-and-steal is taking place largely at the expense of the European and American masses. The economy in the US itself is increasingly threatened by the signalling effect of the threat of a European recession. The upshot is that at some point in the future the economic cost of this war profiteering would be attempted to be ‘shifted’ ‘Southwards’ into developing nations in one form or the other by a combination of trade, sanctions and regime control, because that’s how the colonial West operates its syndicate.
Based on the evolving scenario, IEA has predicted a natural gas shortfall in the European Union over 2023-24 to the tune of 30 billion cubic meters. This would represent almost half the gas required to fill natural gas storage sites to 95 per cent capacity by the start of the 2023-24 heating season, according to IEA. Presently, the EU natural gas storage sites are at 95 per cent capacity, i.e. 5 per cent or 5 bcm above their 5 year average. So the expected shortage is massive and that’s reflecting in skyrocketing energy prices in Europe.
In order to mitigate the deleterious economic impact of the energy emergency, European governments are responding by a variety of policy measures such as introducing price caps and regulated tariffs in order to shield the masses and the businesses from the economic shocks of upto 350 per cent rise in electricity bills. Other measures include support programmes for energy intensive sectors, liquidity or capital backing for energy companies including nationalisation. Additional policies involve seeking lifestyle changes that would seem bizarre to a European – things such as skipping elevators, or skipping washing or skipping a bath, reducing the heat temperature of the indoor environment, switching off the lights around national monuments to reduce utility bills.
A word needs to be said about the Russian war strategy because right now the length of the war is wedded inextricably to and has consequential implications for the European Energy Crisis. Putin had recently commented that he stands unfazed by the continued, seemingly never-ending conflict in Ukraine. He specifically observed that his recruiters in the KGB had pointed to his “lowered sense of danger” in his intelligence assessment as a character flaw and a detriment to the cause that he would be expected to serve in the future. It’s still early to say whether he has definitely bitten off more than he can chew even if the risk he took is not entirely unwarranted.
As the war continues into the next year, deadlier missiles with ever increasing ranges and destructive power are being supplied to Ukraine. American war commanders are directly supervising the war and driving the military tactics on the ground, not to mention the Ukrainian Army is getting cutting edge intelligence from the US war machine.
The question that echoes without a response is whether Putin miscalculated the Ukrainian potential to offer resistance? How could he not have known that Ukraine shares its Western borders with NATO states and that in the event of a war, the US and its allies would definitely supply weapons to Zelensky. Ukraine and Ukrainians are mere canon fodder in their larger scheme of enfeebling Russia, toppling Putin and thereby uprooting the one thorn that comes between them and total world domination.
Once Russia has been tackled with a puppet, West-friendly regime installed there, they’d go for China and ultimately Bharat. This ‘regime change’ protocol has been successfully implemented by USA multiple times in the past. Bharat has to be particularly careful as she faces, a hostility at a scale and level with both China and Pakistan that would more than equal that of Russia and Ukraine.