Putin is using gas to blackmail Europe
Germany shouldn’t be so naive in its relationship with Moscow: energy is power.
7 October 2021 •
When it comes to containing Russia, European politicians need to wake up before it is too late. The continent was already dependent upon Moscow for 43 per cent of its gas imports last year,leaving it dangerously vulnerable to blackmail. There are signs this might already be happening in Germany.
When Angela Merkel, the outgoing German Chancellor, supported the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, the goals were to provide cheap fuel to her country, reducing coal and avoiding nuclear, and to bind Russia closer to the West through economic partnership – an extension of the Ostpolitik of the Cold War. She greatly irritated her American allies who, rightly, saw a wider Russian strategy at play.
Russia is now accused of sitting on gas exports to Europe in order to pressure the German regulator to sign off on Nord Stream 2 faster. If true, why should this surprise anyone? Russia has manipulated supplies to other nations before for political gain; one of its goals with this pipeline is to bypass Ukraine, the country it has divided. Moscow does not see trade in true free market terms, as an exchange that seeks to mutually enrich. It weaponises everything. Vladimir Putin’s announcement that he will now raise exports is another bid to establish himself as an energy tsar, and Nord Stream 2 will leave Europeans even more at the whim of Moscow and the prices it sets.
The new German government ought to reconsider Nord Stream 2 but, desperate to alleviate its own economic difficulties, might not have the political capital to do so. It is a dire warning of what happens if you leave yourself vulnerable to Moscow.