Russian Energy Noose Holds Europe at Rope’s End Over Ukraine Conflict

by | Mar 12, 2022 |

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine puts Vladimir Putin in a position to tighten a noose around Western Europe — Germany in particular — using energy-dependent strangulation to discourage interference.

This self-inflicted EU abandonment of its own energy resources seems to generally follow Lenin’s playbook when he reportedly quipped that “capitalists will sell us the rope by which we hang them.”

The main editorial clarification to add here, is that it applies most directly to the crony capitalist green energy subsidy lobbies and their climate alarm enablers who build the scaffolds.

Germany, a dominant EU economic power, now depends on Russia for over half of its natural gas and a quarter of its oil imports.

Ironically, it isn’t as if the EU doesn’t have petroleum resources of their own … they have plenty. As recently as 15 years ago, their member countries produced more gas than Russia exported.

Also, paradoxically, although Europe’s gas reserves are smaller than Russia’s, they may have as much technically recoverable shale gas as the U.S., which their governments won’t allow to be developed.

Plans by multinational energy companies, including Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, and TotalEnergies, to repeat the U.S. shale fracking boom were blocked by continentwide protests.

Former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen blamed Russia for fueling the fracking opposition. “Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called nongovernmental organizations — environmental organizations working against shale gas — to maintain dependence on imported Russian gas,” he noted in 2014.

Over the past decade, European oil and gas production has plunged by half, with Russia most pleased to fill the supply gap.

This is occurring at a time when Germany has sabotaged itself to become even more dependent on Russian gas by already shutting down three nuclear plants in December, with three more to be mothballed this year.

Simultaneously, coal plant shutdowns across Europe have left populations even more dependent on natural gas — including as backup for heavily subsidized intermittent solar and wind. Making matters even worse, a lag in wind production last summer has contributed to soaring gas prices as Europe now enters winter with little reserve storage.

Meanwhile, the global market lacks the capacity to make up for any eventual loss of Russian gas by substituting it with liquefied natural gas, or LNG, from the U.S. or the Middle East.

By killing nuclear and coal, while failing to develop its own technically recoverable massive shale gas resources, Germany, and the broader E.U., have legitimate reasons to worry that Russia will weaponize its energy life support supply leverage to advance its territorial agendas.

They did so before when Gazprom cut off Ukraine’s gas supply for 13 days during a 2009 dispute with painful effects extending to Poland and other European countries.

How and why did this occur?

With converging and compounding consequences, U.N.-promoted climate alarmism over fossil burning energy greenhouse gas emissions inexplicably prompted a plan hatched about 20 years ago by then-German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to also phase out non-carbon emission nuclear energy over three decades.

It was also under Schröder’s term of office when Germany and Russia agreed to build a Nord Stream trans-Baltic Sea gas pipeline linking the two countries.

Then, following his electoral defeat to Angela Merkel, Schröder went on to chair the supervisory boards of both Nord Stream and the Russian giant state-controlled oil firm Rosneft.

Merkel, who succeeded Schröder in 2005, accelerated the process, with the country’s last nuclear-power plants due to go offline this year — a decade ahead of schedule.

Chancellor Merkel then subsequently teamed up with President Vladimir Putin to counter widespread opposition to Nord Stream 2, a second pipeline which is now completed running alongside the first one. If, and when licensed, it will double the Russian gas provided to Germany … making Berlin even more dependent on Moscow … doing so even after Gazprom had previously suspended pipeline exports to Ukraine.

Locations of Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 pipelines connecting Germany and Russia.

 

Recognizing Russia’s opportunity to weaponize Germany’s vulnerable dependency, President Trump sanctioned the Gulf Stream 2 development, a policy that President Biden reversed upon taking office.

The Trump administration had also pressed Germany to build LNG import terminals to diversify its gas supply, as Poland, the Netherlands, and Lithuania have done.

Whereas Poland and Lithuania now no longer rely on Russian gas because they can import supplies from as far away as Australia, the German LNG terminals became ensnarled in permitting delays, and one company last year decided to turn an LNG project into a “green hydrogen hub,” including an import terminal for ammonia and an electrolysis plant.

Then, most recently following Russia’s Ukraine invasion, both the new German government under Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the Biden White House belatedly put a hold on Nord Stream 2 licensing as well.

Germany and the U.S. also joined with other NATO countries in agreeing to end Russian access to SWIFT global interbank accounts … with the remarkable exception of those incredibly important ones involving Russian oil and gas transactions that will impact them as well.

The Biden administration has been directly complicit in this rolling self-inflicted disaster since Joe’s first day in the Oval Office when he inexplicably canceled the U.S.- Canadian Keystone XL pipeline and, shortly thereafter, issued a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal land, including Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and in the Gulf of Mexico.

Over merely a year, the Biden White House and Democrat-controlled Congress have transformed President Trump’s America from not only being energy independent, but also a leading global exporter.

Consequential skyrocketing U.S. pump prices and plummeting poll numbers attributed in large part to Democrat anti-drilling policies have since incentivized President Biden to pathetically plead with OPEC and Russia to produce more oil.

Throughout 2021, the U.S. imported between 12 million and 26 million barrels of Russian oil monthly. There is now strong bipartisan congressional support to terminate such purchases altogether — even Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi supports such a ban — which is stalemated by far-left progressive elements that transparently control Joe Biden.

Current U.S. domestic and global energy starvation policies are insanely unnecessary and morally unconscionable. They will not benefit either the world’s climate or its inhabitants in any conceivable way.

America has the capacity to end Putin’s stranglehold weaponization of European oil and gas dependence and simultaneously fuel our own needs, economic prosperity, and influence in an increasingly dangerous world.

Let Ukraine be an instructive moment to bring this urgent realization home.

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Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston. He founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the space architecture graduate program. He is the author of several books, including "Reinventing Ourselves: How Technology is Rapidly and Radically Transforming Humanity" (2019), "Thinking Whole: Rejecting Half-Witted Left & Right Brain Limitations" (2018), "Reflections on Oceans and Puddles: One Hundred Reasons to be Enthusiastic, Grateful and Hopeful” (2017), "Cosmic Musings: Contemplating Life Beyond Self" (2016), and "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles."

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