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Putin’s plot to paralyse the EU His invasion was set in motion last spring

The Gazprom Effect (Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)

The Gazprom Effect (Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)


April 27, 2022   4 mins

“It’s much worse than everyone thinks.” Alan Riley is drinking tea on the outside patio of the Radisson hotel in central Chișinău, the capital of Moldova. “The recent winter energy crisis was exceptional. And we now realise that it was Russia softening up Europe for the war.”

If Riley, a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center, is correct, Putin’s tactics have more than paid off. Gas and electricity prices could soon reach £3,000 in the UK, while household energy bills are predicted to reach €3,400 in Germany, €2,800 in France and just below €2,000 in Italy and Spain.

The story of EU reliance on Russian gas is one that is entirely avoidable and entirely frustrating as a result. Until 2013, only 25% of the natural gas that flowed into Europe came from Russia. But Europe — not for the first time — did the Kremlin a favour. Long-standing anti-nuclear feeling in Germany, galvanised by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, led Berlin to officially abandon nuclear power. Meanwhile, a series of earthquakes around the Groningen gas field — the largest in Europe, with its estimated 2,740 billion cubic metres of natural gas — meant that Dutch authorities decided to phase out production last year. It was the perfect storm of short-sightedness and bad governance, and it unchained revanchist desires in Moscow that eventually led the continent to the battlefields of Ukraine.

There is deep and pervasive anger in the country about all this. The people are grateful for all the help the West is giving them. But at the same time they are quick to quote EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, who earlier this month observed that while Brussels has given Ukraine €1 billion in the form of foreign aid, since the war began it has paid €35 billion to Moscow for its energy. They cannot understand how Brussels is happy to simultaneously pay for both their own war effort and Russia’s.

In an office in central Odesa, I met with Panteleimon Bumburas, a local businessman and honorary Consul of Crimea and Kherson. “All of these problems started when the Russian Federation began earning more than €1 million a day due to the actions of Angela Merkel,” he told me. “She is not a leader but an accountant.” “Trust me,” an Odesite recently told me over tea. “You don’t want to rely on Russia for anything.”

But we do — and we have paid for it, and people still don’t understand exactly how. Riley explains: “What the Russians did in the spring [of 2021] was get ready for war. Normally what happens is that in spring you send gas cheaply into storage: this is how you build up supplies for winter. Well, back then I noticed two things: One, that this was not happening; and, two, they were not selling gas spot market. If you don’t do this, the price goes up and so does the price of long-term supply contracts. At this point, higher energy bills for ordinary people are inevitable.”

Riley thought this was an attempt by Moscow to force through the Nordstrom II gas pipeline that the United States, among others, was pressing Germany to, if not cancel, at least postpone. But he was wrong. “I now realise that it was an attempt to soften up the EU as part of a more general prelude to war in Ukraine — to make sure we would not come to the aid of Ukraine.” He could not be clearer: if their energy behaviour was anything to go by, Moscow knew it was going to invade Ukraine last spring; and it was happy to send millions across the European continent tumbling into energy poverty to make sure it got away with it. This, then, was an attack not just against Ukraine, but on all of us. 

Riley identifies a further problem. “We also ran into wider difficulties,” he says. “The whole climate change agenda has turned off the voice of the energy industry, which does not always get a hearing. But the thing is: we do know about this stuff. Our warnings went unheeded — and energy prices began to surge.”

To some extent, the world was already facing rising energy prices last spring, largely because of increasing Chinese demand as industrial production returned to pre-Covid levels to satisfy pent-up consumer demand. But what we are seeing is not normal. Gas prices in Europe normally switch between $150-$500 per 1,000 cubic metres. Now it’s $1,000 per cubic metres. This, Riley tells me, is the Gazprom effect. “Half of the gas deficit of Europe can be directly attributed to [state-funded] Gazprom’s deliberate depletion of gas storages in the EU,” he says.

In the UK, of course, we are far less reliant on Russian gas. While the EU gets around 40% of its gas from Russia, the UK imports less than 5%. But it’s all linked to the same market, so a shortage of gas still makes its prices rise. Dependence is always a curse. To understand just how much, consider the United States, which has its own shale gas and is, as a result, now paying ten times less than Europe for energy.

All these problems will continue as long as we rely on Russian gas. But cutting ourselves off is also difficult. Riley believes an option might be to thoroughly tax what we pay Russia for its energy, and in so doing make it far harder for their war machine to operate. Moscow is acutely vulnerable here. If it wasn’t a petrostate before, after Western sanctions it is now pretty much a single-industry economy.

But even then, it might be too late. “The suffering of people in the UK and across Europe because of soaring energy bills is a direct result of Russia’s preparation for war,” Riley tells me as he finishes his tea. He pauses and then looks at me with a weary smile. “As it turned out, Gazprom was far more effective at executing war plans than the Russian army.”


David Patrikarakos is UnHerd‘s foreign correspondent. His latest book is War in 140 characters: how social media is reshaping conflict in the 21st century. (Hachette)

dpatrikarakos

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J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

Almost every article I read about Ukraine in the US media tries to convince me that Putin is an incompetent and might even be suffering the early stages of Alzheimer’s (see the latest Unherd article from “Amy” in yesterday’s edition). Now the current author suggests Putin is a strategic genius who was laying the groundwork for the invasion as far back as spring 2021. So which is it?
At this point I’m extremely sceptical of all journalism about Putin and his invasion. Who are the truth tellers when it comes to Ukraine? Who remembers what it means to be a journalist, not a propagandist (for either side)?

Last edited 2 years ago by J Bryant
JP Martin
JP Martin
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Genius not required. Merkel handed him a loaded gun.

Last edited 2 years ago by JP Martin
Ian
Ian
2 years ago
Reply to  JP Martin

Yup, the writer seems to think this war wasn’t foreseen – but many commentators saw the tactics in play by Russia to get Ukraine after 2014 but, in admiration of Putin’s ‘genius’, thought he’d get his own way by pressure and threats.
Only a few commentators (who I agreed with at the time but many on Unherd didn’t cos they still thought Putin was a genius) foresaw last year that going to war with Ukraine would be a huge mistake for Russia.

Keith B
Keith B
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I think it best to treat all information with a degree of scepticism. Maybe it’s best to read widely and then think for yourself?

Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Well said. The Western media has been a disgrace over Ukraine. Lives are at stake and yet our disgusting media has collectively spread lies and half truths knowingly. It seems they are more intent on whipping up support and justification for our involvement in this war, and a continuation of the conflict, than actually trying to help resolve it peacefully.

I’ve taken to watching/reading Indian news on this topic and find it far more balanced, truthful and, quite frankly, anti war. Less sabre rattling and more of a desire for diplomacy.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

Precisely, currently we could be in August 1914.

Carl Buzawa
Carl Buzawa
2 years ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

Or Western Europe facing a Putler testing whether he can seize Czechoslovakia against potentially superior French and British armies but with knowledge that they desperately wanted “Peace in our time”.
or it could be too late-the die might have been cast much earlier when Europe and the USA let Putin gobble up parts of the Ukraine,and Georgia, foist a number of “frozen conflicts” around Russia’s border and intervene in an extremely brutal manner in Syria when “Red lines” over use of poison gas and evidence of war crimes against civilians by Russia itself were swept under the rug in Europe’s desire to get cheap cheap energy.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Carl Buzawa

Exactly.
All the Putin appeasers on this and other forums are either idiots, cowards or Russian bots.
Basically, they claim that we should agree to any Russian demand in case Putin escalates war by further invasion or using nukes.

Michael Webb
Michael Webb
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew F

Must agree. The West, just like the US in 1941 will be dragged into this war. The Russians (even without Putin) will not desist. Their mindset is similar to that of 1940’s Japan. I fear we’re heading the same way or worse as the West’s current crop of ‘leaders’ are an embarrassment.

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

More like October 1914 but the WW1 comparison is very apt, one I have been making and thinking on, a lot

Peter B
Peter B
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

Lives are only at stake because of Putin’s invasion.
Why would you assume that Indian media is impartial and has no angle ? They are at a good safe distance from Russia and have never suffered from Russian aggression – as well as having close ties with Russia since WWII. They also get cheaper oil as a result of this war.
The downside for India is that their military is saddled with a load of not very good Russian equipment.
Is Putin doing less “sabre rattling” than the West here ? I haven’t heard anyone in the West threatening to use nuclear weapons.
Diplomacy with people like Putin is not possible. We are well past that point. Would you seriously trust any commitment offered by Putin’s Russia ? Really ?
Get real. Lives are at risk here.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter B

I mean ‘people like Putin’ can be negotiated with, but only from a position of strength. Weakness invites predation, as Thucydides noted a long time ago.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ferrusian Gambit
Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

You are total disgrace with your pro Russia propaganda.
Who started the war?
“resolve peacefully”? Do you mean Ukraine should just surrender?
India being anti war is another way of saying we should accept Russia annexation of Ukraine.
People like you were saying similar things when Hitler made his demands over Czechoslovakia.
Remind us, please: did it stop there? Did it end well?

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

I agree about India, but even China (!!) gets it better than the Western legacy media.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

People are drawn equally to journalism and social work. They are highly emotional sorts who believe it is possible to create a secular heaven on Earth.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

The Ukrainians would no doubt peace. I cannot imagine any Ukrainians want to be murdered and raped. All Rusia needs to do is leave.
India hs been aligned with Russia for decades. However, the russian tanks have a design fault, by storing shells in the turret it makes them vulnerable to NLAWS. India should ask for rebate on the money spent Russian tanks.
By staying on the sidelines , India cannnot expect any support if China invades. China has a port in Sri Lanka, the Burmese government in it’s pocket, Nepal is looking shaky and the loans made to Pakistan give it leverage.Field Marshall Manakshaw warned I Ghandi in 1970 that if India went to war with Pakistan over East Pakistan it would make it vulnerable to attack from China. Would Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Burma assist China in attacking India?

Phil Mac
Phil Mac
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

Yes, great idea. Let’s aim for peace in Ukraine.
Now, what was the settlement option from Russia again? Something to do with total conquest of the whole Country? Yes, seems like a sound compromise.
You’re either a bot, a plant or, being very charitable, a naive soul.

David NebeskĂœ
David NebeskĂœ
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Putin is very good at slowly preparing surprise aggressions that start by deceiving the opponent. He has shown this many times. At the same time, he is utterly incapable of making good tactical decisions under pressure. He has also demonstrated this many times.
In the case of preparations for war against Ukraine, he managed to fool the West (until early winter) but not Ukraine. Ukraine has been preparing for Russian aggression for 8 years.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
2 years ago

He also seems to leave things too late though. He could have toppled the government in 2014 after Maiden relatively bloodlessly, but choose a limited operation in Crimea and a half-cocked separatist movement in Eastern Ukraine. He managed to give Ukraine 8 years to build its defenses and, perhaps more importantly, consolidate a nationwide identity even in Russian speaking areas which was by no means the case pre-2014. For what it is worth, Ukraine in 2014 was rather like Moldava today, so it will be intersting to see if he’ll grasp the nettle quickly there this time.
Something similar may have been the case in this war, if he’d cut off gas, even temporarily, at the start of the war during winter he’d have pushed Europe into panic. As it is, gas being cut off will be painful, especially for businesses involved in industry that used it as feedstock, but manageable. And plans can be invoked to import from other sources next winter. Again, I feel the hesitation on this has blunted the impact.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago

He could have, and we and others could have done things differently, too. So?

Carl Buzawa
Carl Buzawa
2 years ago

We can all thank at least that much. He is a sociopath, but perhaps the slowest sociopath in the room

martin logan
martin logan
2 years ago

Putin’s problem was, openly toppling the govt in Kyiv in 2014 would have landed him in the same situation as now–but with Germany less dependent on Russian gas.
The Hybrid War helped the Verstehers keep going full steam ahead to Nordstream 2.

martin logan
martin logan
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

You’re running two very different things together.
Putin’s has 20 years of experience with the rather simple economics of European gas. It is after all, about a single figure that goes up and down. He’s been watching this for years, and knows precisely where it will go if he turns off the spigot.
What he has far less knowledge about are the myriad unknowables of real war. Indeed, the fact that he launched the invasion shows that he and the FSB had little if any real knowledge of Ukraine and its military capabilities.
Whether Putin is mad is irrelevant. He entered this war with a cavalier disdain for both Ukraine and the West–and it may well destroy his country.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I haven’t read any US article. In the UK, I have seen a smattering of articles speculating on some kind of illness, but none on incompetence; only that he has misjudged, such as on the reaction of Ukraine and the West, and/or been fed incorrect intelligence about these reactions or the relative effectiveness of the two armed forces.
Naturally, one can detect partisanship in the statements by Ukrainians, and especially their government, which is of course fighting a total war. And our own politicians will speak so as to support the policies on which they’ve decided, while all and sundry (including the author of this article and you) comment on those policies. Meanwhile, we have to guess what happens in Putin’s government. What’s the problem?

Colin Shingler
Colin Shingler
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Were you not around in 2014 when Putin’s Russia invaded Crimea? This is when the ball started rolling and the West let him get away with it. Then (Germany) signed a new pipeline deal and Putin knew he could not lose. He has Europe by the throat all down to Germany’s greed.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Shingler

Exactly.
The Nord Stream deal was nothing more than economic Ribentrop-Molotov pact.
That is why Remainers are so pathetic.
They would rather be slaves in Fourth Reich (EU) than have independent country.
But that what happens when EU becomes religion.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I am not sure what are you complaining about?
I am quite happy to have different points of view presented on Unherd, even if I am strongly against Russia in general and not just its war in Ukraine.
There is nothing illogical in claiming that Russia energy policy was designed to weaken the West (it worked) but its intel, military planning and execution of invasion of Ukraine failed.

Roger Rogers
Roger Rogers
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The essence of PSYOPS is to misinform and create cognitive dissonance among target groups. In this case existential threat and triumphalism in tandem. You may well recall that “Iraq” (aka Saddam Hussein) was a powerful and serious threat to global security (aka Western security), but we can lick him because we are both exceptional and invincible and God is on our side. “Russia” (aka Putin) is a powerful and serious threat to global security (aka Western security) but we can lick him because we are both exceptional and invincible and God is on our side. And so on ad infinitum.

Last edited 2 years ago by Roger Rogers
Richard Parker
Richard Parker
2 years ago

Fair point that the resistance to nuclear energy generation played a big part in our dependency on Russian natural gas. The hysterical reaction to nuclear still amazes me. An example:
Mention the 2011 Japan earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi reactor meltdown, and almost everyone assumes most fatalities were due to radiation.
And the actual fatalities? Tsunami: 15,894. Reactor meltdown
 1.
But still we have this terror of nuclear energy. Well, if we intend to continue enjoying our current electricity consumption, we’re running out of options, I’m afraid. Wishful thinking just doesn’t keep the lights on.

Last edited 2 years ago by Richard Parker
ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Parker

This hysteria about nuclear power dates way back to the 1950’s with such moronic organisations as the Aldermaston March, CND, and Ban the Bomb. The participants were, as always, the “useful idiots’, so admired by Mr Lenin.

However the naming of one nuclear plant ‘Dounreay’ was unfortunate. Pentland View might have been a better choice, although Quatermass fans would have been disappointed.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

“Caithness Early-Retirement Pension and Mortgage Fund” would most be apt.

Mark Polden
Mark Polden
2 years ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

Willing to bet if you did a deep dive into where those organisations got there money from you would find it originated in Moscow

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Polden

Spot on Sir!

D Glover
D Glover
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Parker

Japan sits at the junction of three tectonic plates, so it experiences earthquakes. This is not true of Germany, or the UK.
Fukushima is on the coast, and so vulnerable to a tsunami. Again, not a problem in Germany. When the Fukushima reactors shut down they relied on cooling pumps driven by electric motors. These were overwhelmed by water from the wave. That they were not in waterproof chambers was grossly bad design.
There was no reason for Germany to shut its reactors. I seriously wonder if Frau Merkel was Russian.

Last edited 2 years ago by D Glover
Carl Buzawa
Carl Buzawa
2 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

There is a long history-look at Chancellor Schroeder and his selling himself out as a well paid shill for a potential enemy like Putin, over and over and over again. In most countries so open selling your soul to such a man that would never be tolerated.
in Meikel’s case, coming from East Germany, I think she was more blinded by Russian blandishments to the effect tgat only she and Germany could see past the Cold War whereas the US, France, and Great Britain could not. Being told repeatedly that you are the very smartest person has over history made many leaders make similar blunders.Now when people look at Meikel’s legacy they will likely view it in far different light than only 2 months ago.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
2 years ago
Reply to  Carl Buzawa

Yes, Merkel has taken a steep fall – after her retirement, which must be an achievement of sorts.

Like others have done with the benefit of hindsight, I can see that it was an error to give Putin this leverage. By the same token it could be argued (probably was) that tying him into dual dependency was a wise thing to do.

Peter B
Peter B
2 years ago

Perhaps then she’s another of the “heirs to Blair”. Perceived [wrongly and obviously to a minority] to be near infallible at the time. But reputation in inexorable decline after leaving office. And rightly so.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

Sleeper Agent Merkelova, awarded the rare Lenin medal, and a lovely Dacha at a fashionable resort on the Black Sea, for services to the Russian state.

D Glover
D Glover
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I believe that the Black Sea coast is out of fashion this season.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

My spies tell me she normally summers in the idyllic island of Ischia, at some fat reduction facility close to the Castello Aragonese.

Last edited 2 years ago by ARNAUD ALMARIC
Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

Clearly this facility treatment did not work?
If you recall, Sarkozy said that she ate on state visit to France as if rationing was still in place in Germany.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

Just read about Merkel past in East Germany.
Her father was pastor who had Western car and travelled to the West.
Only agents of Stasi and/or Russia were allowed to do that.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 years ago

I know that this is probably the least important thing in this article to comment on, but can we please all take a moment to appreciate the greatness of the name “Panteleimon Bumburas”?

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Moment taken. Greatness appreciated.

K E
K E
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

In an otherwise apocalyptic article, it made things seem momentarily magnificent.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I also noted and bowed in admiration.

A Christian name containing pant, and a surname with two euphemisms for backside, would, of course, have given him endless problems at a British school.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

But would make him serious money if he sued for racial discrimination and mental distress.

rick stubbs
rick stubbs
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I am onboard with your request

David McKee
David McKee
2 years ago

Excellent piece of journalism. It provides a clear and persuasive explanation for why things are the way they are. It shows that high energy prices and Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine are linked. Thank you, David. The price of that cup of tea in Chisinau was a bargain!
This will have implications for the relationships within the EU. France and Germany have led the rest of the EU into a cul de sac. This is made even worse by today’s news that the Russians have turned off the supply of their gas to Poland and Bulgaria. Maybe this will galvanise the rest of the member states to make the EU work for them, even in the face of Franco-German opposition.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  David McKee

Well, well.
So Putin did what was the main purpose of Nord Stream pipe.
Bypass Poland and Ukraine to the benefit of Germany.
As I keep saying Nord Stream was economic Ribentrop-Molotov pact.
But so many Remeniacs still believe in rejoining Fourth Reich.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago

While it’s quite likely that Putin started preparing for war in spring of 2021, it’s not unlikely that he has been making preparations for something like this a lot sooner. After all, it only takes a small amount of thought on his part, without need to arrive at consensus with anyone, and then issue of an order, decree, directive (these terms appeal to authoritarians).
It has been said that he has funded the anti-fracking movement, which I find believable. Has he helped anti-nuclear power lobbies, for many years? Anti-fossil fuel lobbies in favour of ESG etc.?
Remembering that he spent 16 years in the KGB, I would not be surprised.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

It’s pretty obvious that Eastern Ukraine has been on Putin’s mind militarily since the Crimean invasion of 2014.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

I think people get carried away with some ideas.
Even if Russia was democratic country, surely it would want high energy prices.
So supporting organisations protesting against alternative energy sources is clearly in Russia interest.
Question is why Western/UK youth are so gullible?
Well, if you create 100 new “universities” (thanks Major), you need to lower standards because average woke idiot will not be able to study STEM subjects.
So they are fed diet of BLM, gender, CRT etc.
Yesterday I met someone with degree in sound recording.
So something which my friend did as apprenticeship 40 years ago is now degree?

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago

The Russians leverage their oil reserves against the West.
The Americans leverage their reserve currency against Russia and others.
Both can be replaced. Russia is prepared to adapt by selling to China and India. Is America prepared to adapt?

David NebeskĂœ
David NebeskĂœ
2 years ago

Russia is NOT prepared to sell oil and especially gas to China and India. It is much more complicated than you think.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago

I’m basing this on popular news that India is already buying significant quantities of Russian oil.

https://news.yahoo.com/russian-oil-sales-india-soared-140408002.html

Is this incorrect? Oil is shipped by tanker, so its easier. NG requires pipelines, but considering the large land border between China and Russia and lack of Western environmental regulations, such construction ought to be relatively easy, should both sides want to wed themselves to each other.

My larger point though was the stupidity of the United States weaponizing its currency hegemony. This is trading short term gains for long term losses.

Peter B
Peter B
2 years ago

If it were more profitable for Russia to export to China and India (and invest in the infrastructure to do so in increased volumes), they would be doing it anyway. Why would they choose to sell to the West when they so clearly despise us if they had a better alternative ?
As it is, India will get a discount on Russian oil (lack of other buyers). As will China.
And as a huge oil producer with an above average production cost, I simply don’t see how the US doesn’t win from this too.
This decline of the US narrative is frankly getting rather tedious. Wishful thinking.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter B

Correct!
Nobody has any answers to 14/18 USN Ohio class submarines, which can despatch 314* nuclear warheads with impunity.
Incidentally Ohio grain farmers and others will soon be ‘laughing all the way to the Bank’.

(*Approximately.)

rick stubbs
rick stubbs
2 years ago

America adapt to what? It has plenty of gas and oil. They can ship it anywhere. Russian pipelines to China India will take a long time to build and financing that will eventually make them a Chinese vassal state. Plus what if the Black Sea is closed to Russian commerce. The question is how quickly Russia can adapt


martin logan
martin logan
2 years ago

This is exactly what we should expect from a spy.
Putin has zero military experience, but has used western economies to both hide and subvert the West for decades. He prepared the economic groundwork very cleverly and carefully, as the article details. Just what any spy would do.
The problem is, Putin also ran the military operation like a spy operation. It was just a scaled-up Novichok plot against Zelensky. There were more “operatives” in his “Special Military Operation,” but they were still meant to achieve all his goals at one stroke.
The problem is: war usually doesn’t involve one master stroke. The muddled-headed talk about August 1914 and a new World War masks the real failure in that year: the Von Schlieffen Plan. It too was meant to surprise and defeat the Allies in one master stroke.
As with Putin’s plan, it didn’t.
When will people start really learning from history, instead of recycling delusive mutterings from a Care Home for Old Socialists?

Carl Buzawa
Carl Buzawa
2 years ago
Reply to  martin logan

Precisely!! Putin , having failed in the short term due to incredibly brave resistance, now counts on Europeans to rebel against their higher costs of energy and, as expressed here by others, to focus on WWI—-even though demonstrably HE is the person igniting the guns—-and is already planning his army’s next ventures whether in Moldova or in the Baltics

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  martin logan

The Schlieffen Plan, was not a single master plan but rather a series of plans on how to hypothetically win a European War against the combined forces of France & Russia.
In essence it meant advancing through Belgium (and Holland) and withdrawing in Alsace- Lorraine.
Fortunately by 1914 Schlieffen was dead, and his successor Moltke so badly mismanaged things that attack failed completely.

martin logan
martin logan
2 years ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

So, maybe advancing on Kyiv in 2022 was as stupid as going through Belgium in 1914?
Indeed, in either case, might it have been better never to have done it in the first place?

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

“Riley believes an option might be to thoroughly tax what we pay Russia for its energy, and in so doing make it far harder for their war machine to operate.”

This is the most interesting part of the article and it’s not explained. How would we “tax” this?

Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago

I notice the spot price for UK natural gas (NBP) is dropping like a stone from 550p/therm on 6th March to 150p/therm yesterday. I know there is some way to go to return to normal levels of 50p/therm but does this mean that the price we pay in Britain is going to come down in the near future?
Anyone familiar enough with the market to tell me?

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt M
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

That would depend, in part, if the household energy-supply companies raised their prices to really reflect 550p or held back. Most likely they held back for legal and commercial reasons. Don’t forget that business users usually pay much higher, uncapped prices than residential

Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago

Thanks Brendan

Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

UK natural gas spot price 127p today! Strange that i haven’t read anything about the price drop.

William Cameron
William Cameron
2 years ago

Its hard to see how you can resolve anything peacefully with a country that invades first. There were no requests for discussions to resolve differences prior to the attack.

Carl Buzawa
Carl Buzawa
2 years ago

Technically the Russians made one demand. A demand that they knew could not possibly be accepted A withdrawal of NATao to 1997 boundaries (which would have utterly destroyed NATO). disarmament of the Ukraine and its “Denazification” (which again he knew the Ukrainians would never accept.
‘this war has been planned a long time in advance

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

Britain since the 1870s has not been producing enough technically competent tough people.To make matter worse, emigration post WW1 abd WW2 of craftsmen, charge hands, foremen, technicians, applied scientistst and engineers has made the situation worse. Engineers and applied scientists solve problems whilst pure scientists can spend their lives investigating matters which have very little practical and industrial use. Japan has won few Nobel Prizes.
Resources are a vital aspect of engineering; oil, gas, minerals, wood,food and raw materials. One cannot put a milksop in a mine, oil rig, shipyard, steel works, construction site, etc, no matter how academically gifted they are so the they need a high level of toughness. An engineer needs to be able to thrive in hot, cold, dusty and dangerous conditions and earn the respect of tough practical men. An engineer who has boxed, played rugby or served in Commando /Airborne Forces is ideal.Further problems are that many engineers from out top universities have gone into the City.
Exanples of omportant resources can be come from WW2. In 1940 at Dunkirk a ship containing chromite ore was ordered not to take soldiers off the beach because it was worth more than their lives. Chrome is need in making high quality steel. In the beginning of WW2 pilots of bombers were order to crash their planes and not bale out because the steel in the engines was more important than their lives.
The present day, opinion fomers, namely upper middle class white collar types comprising politicians, civil servants, lawyers, journalists, academics, teachers, writers, intellectuals, accountants, public relations and human resources personnel are completely ignorant and uninterested in the interaction between engineering, technology and raw materials which is why Putin has been able to cause such problems.
A Europe which had developed Shale Oil and Gas plus Liquid Flouride Thorium Nuclear reactors would be paying no money to Putin and Russia would be powerless. The cost of onshore Russian oil production is $18/barrel. Bring oil down to $20/barrel for four years and Russia is bankrupt.

derek kliger
derek kliger
2 years ago

putin is definitely not incompetent he looked at the west with contempt.We have let him seize control of Europe’s energy needs we unbelievably watched as he prepared his invasion did not make a single gesture towards helping Ukraine is this a surprise with the likes of Biden and Johnson as western leaders .once he invaded we have upped the threats against him it’s now to late and short of a war between nato and Russia it’s difficult to see a way out

Peter B
Peter B
2 years ago
Reply to  derek kliger

Nonsense. This is all working out fine for the US so far. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this is the outcome they wanted all along and they suckered Putin into making a fatal error.
Take the blinkers off. Putin is ruining Russia.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
2 years ago

Some of the things said in this article don’t make much sense to me. For example, why isn’t the more obvious conclusion for the events in 2021 that Russia decided to meet the increased Chinese demand rather than send gas into storage? And if gas prices are set by international demand, why are US prices so low – presumably the domestic market is competing with the international market?

Alan Groff
Alan Groff
2 years ago

It looks like d**k Cheney made an underappreciated contribution to American energy security, and by extension, to the protection of Europe. The West needs such realists in business, government, and defense to offset the absolute idealism of elites in media, education, and government. The apparent dysfunctional mess of US partisanship may be its paradoxical source of health and, by the same metaphor, the harmonious uniformity sought by Xi, Putin, and Merkel, a fountainhead of ironic failure.
Sure they know how to steer society into safe harbor, the rational elites are pitted against irrational midwest common sense and swashbuckling intuition of self-made leaders who smash bureaucratic control systems. A balance of such a combination is the pinnacle of Jungian individuation, and perhaps it’s a lens to view society at large.

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
2 years ago

Sorry, but anything coming from The AtlanticCouncil merits no more attention than if it was from the Russian or Ukrainian government—or for that matter the US or UK. They all lie all the time, and none are to be trusted or even deserve our attention.

Johnny Julius Johnson
Johnny Julius Johnson
2 years ago

If you want I can thoroughly tax what you pay Russia for it’s energy. That way it will be much harder for Russa to fund it’s warmach. And I will collect a nice, tidy windfall!

Last edited 2 years ago by Johnny Julius Johnson
Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 years ago

All of this and more can be laid at he doorstep of Mutta. It’s as if she were a deeply embedded agent of Communism. First, flood the continent with Muslims and then impoverish the middle classes.

Jeanie K
Jeanie K
2 years ago

Putin doesn’t need a plot to paralyse the EU. They are making a good job of it themselves. Now, with Macron re-elected and thinking he can order the other members around, it will only get worse.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
2 years ago

The EU is doing a good job of paralysing itself.

Mark Kennedy
Mark Kennedy
2 years ago

People can’t be that stupid and short-sighted. YES WE CAN! Anyone can use our addiction to  comfort and convenience to game us. Rather than opt for security we’ll happily stick our heads in a noose, if this course is a dollar cheaper and a minute’s labour easier.

Jack Mizrachi
Jack Mizrachi
2 years ago

❗The answer to the question should be obvious :
The West is S T U P I D ❗
Throughout modern history and beyond,it’s been shown
that the West is gullible, i’ll prepared, living in a fantasy
world.
The West should realize, once and for all, that the Asian
Nations are provocateurs, combatants and should NEVER
be trusted…….

David Frost
David Frost
2 years ago

Too many ignore the meddling that the eu were up to in Ukraine before this latest war
The Russians have a sensitivity to their western border, its where Europeans have come too many times before
I’m not a supporter of the latest Russian action but i think its important to try and understand their sensibilities
They are a predominantly Christian country and the sexual politics that cleve the west at the moment have not relevance apart from revulsion in Russia. With Ukraine being lured into a different orbit it gave the Russians a chance
Also the moribund response, particularly by the eu regarding Crimea, led Putin, as Hitler before him to regard the West as soft and unable or unwilling to respond. Indeed Germany was the leading proponent of the dull response
How many of us would want the Ukrainian leader to be their leader, a man in the true sense of the word and a patriot with no truck with minority views when the country is in mortal danger

Rhys Jaggar
Rhys Jaggar
2 years ago

This is basic prejudice and lying. The expensive gas comes from the USA’s LNG, which it wishes to foist onto Europe. There is zero evidence that Russia’s gas prices would be hiked – just look at the deal Hungary struck for 15 years at prices which would now make Western Europeans weep.
What is it about UK wordsmiths that demand that they cobble together nonsense to support a pre-determined party line?
The war had nothing to do with paying lots to Russia for gas, it has everything to do with not upholding the Minsk II agreements, an eight year civil war in the Donbass and Ukraine refusing to pay a $2bn gas bill (which is an important reason why Nordstream II was being built).
It really is about time for all these Russophobes to be sent to live in a colony a long way from Russia. How about they all emigrate to the USA?