Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Self destructive Western climate policies have left major nations, including the USA, helplessly dependent on Russian energy, and unable to impose the one sanction which could financially cripple Putin’s Wehrmacht.
Anger explodes at Germany, Italy, and Hungary over Europe’s failure to cut Russia off from SWIFT payment network
BY DAVID MEYER
February 25, 2022 9:22 PM GMT+10
As Russian troops enter Kyiv and the European Union prepares to sign off on fresh sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, there is widespread fury against the countries that are blocking the heaviest potential sanctions.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Thursday that Russia should not yet be cut off from the SWIFT global payments system, because it is “very important” to keep such drastic measures “for a situation where it may be necessary.” Italy is also reported to have opposed the measure in order to maintain some leverage over Russia’s dictatorial president, Vladimir Putin.
Both Germany and Italy are highly dependent on Russian natural gas, which would be difficult to pay for if Russia really were to be cut off from SWIFT; Austria has the same dilemma, and is taking a similar approach. All three of these countries have other extensive business ties with Russia, with Italian and Austrian banks being highly exposed right now. French banks do a lot of business in Russia as well, and France has declared a SWIFT cutoff to be “the very last resort.”
And then there’s Hungary, whose hard-right leader Viktor Orbán has long had a friendly relationship with fellow culture warrior Putin. As with President Miloš Zeman of the neighboring Czech Republic, Orbán appears to have changed tack in the past couple days, condemning Russia’s invasion and professing to stand with Ukraine. However, he has yet to follow Zeman in calling for the SWIFT option, which the Czech leader says is “needed to isolate a madman.”
…Read more: https://fortune.com/2022/02/25/ukraine-anger-sanctions-germany-italy-hungary-europe-eu-failure-cut-russia-swift-payment-network/
It didn’t have to be this way. European countries have access to more than enough frackable hydrocarbons to supply their own needs. But pressure from green groups and a weak, innumerate political class has sabotaged the development of genuine energy independence in Europe.
Fracking: UK’s only shale gas wells to be sealed and abandoned
Published 10 February
The UK’s only two shale gas wells are to be abandoned after the industry regulator ordered them to be sealed.
The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) ordered that they now be plugged with concrete.
The site’s owners, energy firm Cuadrilla, said the decision was “ridiculous” amid rising gas prices.
Cuadrilla’s chief executive Francis Egan said the OGA order “had not been properly thought through” amid an “energy crisis”.
“It will be incredibly costly and difficult to rectify this mistake,” he said.
“What is more ridiculous is that leaving our own shale gas in the ground will make reducing global emissions even harder.
“Shale gas from the North of England has the potential to meet the UK’s energy needs for decades to come, yet ministers have chosen now, at the height of an energy crisis, to take us to this point.”
However, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said shale gas from fracking was “not a short-term fix” and was “still unproven as a resource in the UK”.
…Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-lancashire-60341226
France has a level of energy independence, thanks to their 1970s national security initiative to replace fossil fuel with affordable nuclear power. France kept prices down by mass producing standardised components, and implementing a national security mandated predictable planning process.
I’m no fan of French President Macron, who went out of his way to attack President Trump and belittle America, but it has to be said that French energy policy is an island of sanity in the midst of the green European Russian gas dependency disaster.
Macron sets out plan for French nuclear renaissance
11 February 2022
France will construct six new nuclear power reactors, consider building a further eight and push ahead with the development of small modular reactors, President Emmanuel Macron has said.
Speaking at GE Steam Power’s manufacturing site at Belfort in eastern France on Thursday, Macron, who faces a presidential election in April, said the main objective of the new policy was to reduce the country’s energy consumption while increasing its carbon-free energy production capacity.
He said in the coming decades France must produce more carbon-free electricity, because even if it reduces its energy consumption by 40%, the exit from oil and gas within 30 years implies that it will replace part of the consumption of fossil fuels with electricity. The country must therefore be able to produce up to 60% more electricity than today.
“Key to producing this electricity in the most carbon-free, safest and most sovereign way is precisely to have a plural strategy … to develop both renewable and nuclear energies,” Macron stated.
…Read more: https://world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Macron-announces-French-nuclear-renaissance
The USA is not far behind Europe when it comes to self inflicted energy dependence on hostile powers. Biden’s attacks on Keystone and fossil fuel leases have left the US economy utterly vulnerable to shifts in global energy prices. This US dependence on imports gives President Putin substantial leverage over US gasoline prices. Through his influence over US gasoline prices, Putin has leverage over the political fortunes of the US Democrats.
In my opinion it is no accident Putin struck during a US election year, during a period when Democrats are desperate keep gasoline prices under control.
Oil steadies as U.S. seen unlikely to sanction Russian exports
Oil prices rose on Tuesday on fears that sanctions imposed by Western nations on Russia, after it sent troops into two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, could hit energy supplies.
Sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union, Britain, Australia, Canada and Japan were focused on Russian banks and elites, while Germany halted certification of a gas pipeline from Russia.
But the United States made it clear that sanctions agreed and those which may be imposed will not target oil and gas flows. read more
The Biden administration is not expected to target Russia’s crude oil and refined fuel sector with sanctions due to concerns about inflation and the harm it could do to its European allies, global oil markets and U.S. consumers, administration officials told Reuters. read more
…Read more: https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/oil-pulls-back-view-western-sanctions-russia-wont-choke-supply-2022-02-23/
The only people doing anything to impede Russia’s advance are the Ukrainians themselves, who thanks to their courage, and to President Zalenskyy’s last minute decision to open the national armouries and distribute guns and other weapons to anyone who wants to fight, appear to be causing President Putin’s invasion forces a real headache.
If the conflict continues, there is a real chance someone will blow up the Ukrainian pipeline, either drugged up Russian conscripts shooting at random targets, or Ukrainian Partisans fighting a desperate scorched Earth campaign against the Russian invaders.
I’m only speculating, but given Europe’s desperate energy situation, it would not surprise me if European leaders actually want Russia to score a quick win, to crush Ukrainian opposition and secure the gas pipeline which feeds Europe against partisan attacks. Perhaps that is why Germany blocked NATO from supplying heavy weapons to the Ukraine, in the leadup to the current war.
As Europe suffers sky high energy prices and faces an aggressive Russian army right on their doorstep, and witnesses the destruction of a democratic country very like any other European nation, perhaps the European people will finally wake up, and begin to hold their leaders accountable for their gross green energy negligence and incompetence.
Update (EW): It looks like some weapons did get through, Breitbart reports the Ukrainian resistance are using US and British anti-tank weapons to inflict significant casualties on Russian forces, with more weapons on the way.
Update (EW): Chechen strongman Kadyrov has offered Putin 70,000 hill tribe fanatics to back Putin’s incursion into the Ukraine.