Russia dramatically escalated its standoff with the West over the war in Ukraine on Wednesday, cutting natural gas off to NATO members Poland and Bulgaria and threatening to disconnect even more nations. European leaders decried the move as “blackmail.”
Every time I hear people talking about how “unhinged” Putin is, and how he is mere steps away from collapsing, it makes me laugh because Putin is amazingly crafty, and has set this thing up incredibly well. It was a Hitlerian move to first get the majority of Europe addicted to his smooth flowing and affordable oil and natural gas before declaring war on Ukraine and daring Europe to do anything about it. This week Putin has started the process of cutting off NATO nations from the Gazprom teat.
“And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil.” Deuteronomy 33:24 (KJB)
Sending in the disposable conscripts instead of using up his actual soldiers is another evil genius move that is reaping benefits for Putin on many levels. As the war in Ukraine drags on, Putin is expanding the conflict zone to areas like neighboring Moldova, with Poland already looking over their shoulders. Hey, remember when Biden turned off the Keystone Pipeline? Look how wonderfully that fits into Putin turning off the pipeline to Europe, think they colluded on that?
Russia cuts natural gas to 2 NATO nations in escalation
FROM THE AP: A day after the United States and other Western allies vowed to speed more and better military supplies to Ukraine, the Kremlin upped the ante, using its most essential export as leverage. The tactic could eventually force targeted nations to ration gas and deal another blow to economies suffering from rising prices. It could also deprive Russia of badly needed income to fund its war effort.
Benchmark gas prices in Europe shot up on the news that Poland and Bulgaria were cut off, marking another dark turn in a war that has revived the geopolitical rifts of the Cold War.
In a memo, state-controlled Russian giant Gazprom said it was shutting off the countries because they refused to pay in Russian rubles, as President Vladimir Putin had demanded. The company said it had not received any such payment since the beginning of the month, though Bulgaria’s energy minister disputed that. Fatih Birol, the executive director of the Paris-based International Energy Agency, said the cutoff was a “weaponization of energy supplies,” while EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called it “yet another attempt by Russia to use gas as an instrument of blackmail.”
Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov also called the suspension blackmail. “We will not succumb to such a racket,” he added.
Natural gas prices in Europe shot up 25% before the market opened Wednesday and then eased off but remained significantly higher. The gas cuts do not immediately put the countries into dire trouble since they have worked on getting alternative sources for several years now and the continent is heading into summer, making gas less essential for households.
Yet the move and Kremlin warnings that more nations could be cut off sent shivers of worry through the 27-nation European Union, which immediately convened a special coordination group to limit the impact. Russia also more directly targeted support for Ukraine, claiming Wednesday that missiles hit a batch of weapons that the U.S. and European nations had delivered to the embattled country.
With the help of Western arms, Ukrainian forces have been unexpectedly successful at bogging Russia’s forces down, and they thwarted their attempt to take Kyiv. Moscow now says its focus is the capture of the Donbas, the mostly Russian-speaking industrial region in eastern Ukraine. The U.S. pressed its allies Tuesday to move “heaven and earth” to ensure Kyiv remains well-supplied with the weapons necessary for that battle.
The West has also sought to isolate Russia economically, by imposing punishing sanctions — but European countries have struggled to reduce their dependence on Russian energy. Wednesday’s cuts and threats marked a major economic counteroffensive by Moscow.
Europe is not without its own leverage since, at current prices, it is paying some $400 million a day to Russia for gas — money Putin would lose in case of a complete cutoff. Russia can, in theory, sell oil elsewhere — to India and China for instance — because of oil-primarily moves by ship. But the gas pipeline network from the huge deposits in the Yamal Peninsula in northwestern Siberia to Europe does not connect with the pipelines running to China. And Russia has only limited facilities to export super-chilled liquefied gas by ship.
Hence, even a partial stoppage marked a “historical turning point in the bilateral energy relationship” between Russia and Europe, said Simone Tagliapietra, a senior fellow at the Bruegel think tank in Brussels. Russia’s goal, Tagliapietra said, is to “divide and rule” — hoping to pit European countries against one another as they gasp for energy. READ MORE