Lest I be misunderstood, I set out clearly and unambiguously at the outset that only one person is responsible for the tragedy going on in Ukraine now, and that person is Vladimir Putin.
However, in my view he has had plenty of facilitators. And chief among them are those whose activism has decreed that Europe must virtue-signal its “green” credentials by not exploiting its own fossil fuel resources – even though fossil fuels are badly needed as renewable energy falls short and remains inherently unreliable. The result, of course, as is plainly seen today, is that Europe is hugely dependent on Russia for oil and gas.
How Europe is funding Putin’s war
It seems to me that Politico got it about right with its headline (above) to an articlei which carries the sub-heading “European countries are reluctant to stop buying oil and gas from Russia for fear of economic consequences at home.”
The Politico article is full of information that can’t fail to make one angry. It commences like this:
Who’s paying for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s jet fighters and tanks? The same EU countries that say they want him to stop his assault on Ukraine, a country that is supposedly their ally.
It’s a crazy paradox that Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki raised at an EU leaders’ summit on sanctions against Moscow that ran into Friday morning. The bloc was unable to agree measures against the SWIFT international payments system because so many countries use it for their all-important gas payments to Moscow.
“We are buying as European Union lots of Russian gas, lots of Russian oil. And President Putin is taking the money from us, from the Europeans. And he is turning this into aggression, invasion,” he said.
Some stark and frankly shocking statistics then follow. Russian exports to the EU (in 2020 so far as I can ascertain – a year when the covid pandemic suppressed economic activity, so the numbers may well be lower than normal) are by product and value (in euros) as follows:
Petroleum oils, crude: 31.9Bn.
Petroleum oils, other than crude: 14.9Bn.
Natural gas: 8Bn.
Coal (not agglomerated): 2.8Bn.
Residual petroleum products: 1.4Bn
A total of 65Bn. Per annum. In a year of low economic activity.
We are further told:
The total value of Russian exports to EU countries of mineral fuels and products, including oil and gas, exceeded Russian military spending in 2020 (in dollars).
In 2020, of Russian mineral exports (including energy commodities) the EU purchased 45.2%, with a further 1.7% being taken by the UK and 3.9% by the USA. In short, Europe and the USA bought almost half of Russian mineral exports (including energy commodities) that year, and by so doing have directly helped to fund Putin’s war machine.
How and why has this sorry state of affairs come about?
Why Europe is so dependent on Russia for natural gas
This is the heading to a CNBC articleii which appeared on 24th February 2022. It makes it abundantly clear that the rush to “carbon neutrality” lies at the heart of the problem:
The EU is the largest importer of natural gas in the world, according to the Directorate-General for Energy for the EU, with the largest share of its gas coming from Russia (41%)….
…the EU has been reducing its dependence on coal to reach its climate goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and cutting emissions by at least 55% by 2030. Currently, about 20% of EU’s electricity comes from coal production.
Since 2012, the EU has decreased its coal power generation by about a third, according to the Directorate-General for Energy for the EU.
In addition, Germany summarily rejected investments in nuclear energy with its Atomic Energy Act in 2011, a decision made in response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. Only 13% of Europe’s energy now comes from nuclear power.
About 25% of the EU’s energy consumption comes from natural gas, according to the Directorate-General for Energy for the EU. Oil and petroleum (32%), renewable energy and biofuels (18%), and solid fossil fuels (11%) make up the rest.
That dependence on natural gas means a dependence on Russia. Today, the EU is the largest importer of natural gas in the world, according to the Directorate-General for Energy for the EU, with the largest share of its gas coming from Russia (41%), Norway (24%) and Algeria (11%).
Importing fossil fuels is hardly green. Making yourself dependent on a mad tyrant and importing huge proportions from his country is hardly wise. And it’s true that fossil fuel reserves in the EU are dwindling, but as CBS makes cleariii, if coal were reintroduced into the equation, the EU does have substantial energy reserves:
Poland has the largest energy reserves per capita – mainly anthracite and bituminous coal – followed by the Czech Republic and Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary and Greece (largely lignite). On average energy reserves in these EU states have decreased by about 15 percent since 2000.
And of course Eurpoe is not simply the EU. Norway has substantial reserves of oil and gas and so – potentially – has the UK. However, we in the UK have the problem of a “net zero” obsession which has taken over the establishment. And so, although we are repeatedly told that the UK’s dependence on Russia is not so great as that of the EU, an element of dependence there is, and the UK has also purchased fossil fuels from Russia and helped to fund Putin’s war. This is despite the fact that we have our own reserves which we could exploit, but which some people are determined to ensure that we leave in the ground. Because “climate change”. Far better to emit more greenhouse gases by transporting fossil fuels from Russia to the UK than to use our own fossil fuel reserves. Apparently. Because that way we in the UK can pretend we are “leading the world”. It never seemed to occur to these people that the leaders of the country currently invading Ukraine, and of two hugely populous states which have just abstained on a UN resolution against Russia (namely China and India) aren’t interested in doing anything about climate change. It doesn’t seem to dawn on them that this being the case, the virtue-signalling of the UK, the EU and to some extent the USA achieves nothing. Other than to increase (to a greater or lesser extent) dependency on Russia, and thereby help to bankroll a war which by any measure is an absolute outrage against all standards of decency.
Fossil fuel companies are trying to exploit this war for their gain. We can’t let them
The articleiv in today’s Guardian, bearing the above heading, demonstrates to my way of thinking a disconnect with reality. I think more than anything else it was the sub-heading which made me see red: “Without fossil fuel, and Europe’s dependence on it, Putin wouldn’t have so much power. We need clean energy now, but big oil has other plans”.
Without any apparent sense of irony, we are told:
As big oil tries to defend their investments in Russia, they’re simultaneously making the case that greater production at home will help combat Putin’s influence on the global stage. It’s like a drug dealer trying to convince authorities that the best way to take out a rival isn’t to crack down on drugs, but allow him to increase production. The net effect will be the same: more addicts, in this case to climate destroying fossil fuels.
While US LNG exports may help Europe in the short term, increasing US production will only deepen Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels and continue to prop up a global cartel in which Putin is a major player. The only viable long term solution is for Europe – and the rest of the world – to move as quickly as possible to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels with energy efficiency and renewables, as some forward-looking European politicians have been calling for.
A more wrong-headed analysis is difficult to imagine. So obsessed with climate change is the author (Jamie Henn, the founder and director of Fossil Free Media) that there is a total failure to recognise that Europe cannot simply snap its fingers and decree that it will no longer be dependent on fossil fuels for quite some time, if ever. This is all the more extraordinary, to my way of thinking, given that the author earlier in the article recognised the glaring truth quite clearly:
Putin’s ability to wage war in Ukraine and threaten the stability of Europe comes exclusively from his control over Russian oil and gas production. Forty per cent of Russia’s federal budget comes from oil and gas, which make up 60% of the country’s exports. This October, Russia was making more than $500m a day from fossil fuels, money that goes directly into funding Putin’s war machine.
This week I have listened, almost in disbelief, to European (mostly German) politicians seeking to water down sanctions against Russia because winter isn’t over and because they need Russian gas. I listened yesterday to a BBC journalist interviewing someone in Ukraine, and asking them what more they expected Europe to do, given Europe’s need for Russian gas.
Jamie Henn apparently believes that fossil fuel users are comparable to drug addicts. There seems to be no understanding that we in Europe will be dependent on fossil fuels for a good time to come, and that regardless of that, much of the rest of the world is quite happy to continue consuming their drug of choice. Putin seems to have anticipated that Europe might stop buying Russia’s fossil fuels (fat chance!) and to have made a side arrangement with President Xi of China, who may not have any scruples about sourcing his cheap and reliable energy from Russia. Worse still Xi might have watched the west’s supine response to Putin’s invasion, and calculated that action on Taiwan should be moved rapidly up the agenda.
Still, if we rid ourselves of dependence on Russian oil and gas by developing our own reserves,we can stop finding our hands covered in other people’s blood.
Some Guardian readers commenting on Jamie Henn’s article give me hope that we in the west may not after all be hopelessly brainwashed by the anti-fossil fuel lobby. A couple of encouraging comments just now:
The cheerleaders for Germany’s strategy of going all in on solar and wind – including shutting down its nuclear plants! – constantly belittled and berated everyone who warned that baseload generation is still a necessity.
Even just a few weeks ago, if you said “Germany can’t actually run on nothing but solar and wind”, you were treated as stupid and even evil.
Liberals need to critically examine the energy fantasies they have been promoting and accept the need for a significant amount of nuclear, hydro, or fossil power generation. Fossil should be procured from friendly countries if it’s used.
Private companies trading with Russia in oil has got absolutely nothing to do with the West’s reliance on oil and gas from there. That reliance has built up because European governments for the last couple of decades (and probably longer) have had no cohesive energy policy or long term plan to wean ourselves off fossil fuel. Look at the uk – dependent on multiple foreign suppliers to meet our current energy needs and a half-baked plan to ‘go green’ without a plan for how we are going to do this. Just a bunch of sound bytes from across the political spectrum which are wishful thinking at best. We have effectively stopped investing in North Sea gas even though we have little in the way of energy security and are importing liquid gas from halfway around the world at huge additional cost to the environment – and huge cost to consumers thanks to Putin’s machinations. It’s not the oil companies that have handed Putin power – they are just doing good business and have no obligation to look after the people of this, or any other country – it’s western governments and their lack of long term planning.
United States also gets enough oil and LNG from Russia that we cannot impose effective sanctions. It is beyond absurd that New England has to rely on Russian LNG because there is a law that only US registered vessels can transport between two US ports and New York has been blocking the construction of natural gas pipelines to New England that eliminate the need for LNG tankers. I have to wonder if the stories that many of the environmental NGO’s are getting funding from Russia are true.
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The term ‘useful idiots’ may not have originally been coined by Lenin, so I’m told.
But it’s found a worthy new referent here.
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I’ve been wondering all day whether I should post this piece since it cuts across the sentiments that many have expressed here. I have no idea whether the idea expresses in it are entirely true or not, but it does offer a narrative that is both deeper and more nuanced than anything else I have seen about the current situation anywhere else. It was posted on 08/02/2022 so it is not a reaction to events of the last week.
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Victoria Nuland is key, as is the Maidan massacre. Dirty dealings all.
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“This is all the more extraordinary, to my way of thinking, given that the author earlier in the article recognised the glaring truth quite clearly:”
Ardent belief in cultural fairy-stories creates a pretty effective blindfold against glaring truths.
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Bill, thanks for the link. I have only skimmed it so far, as it’s rather long, and on the basis of what I’ve read, I don’t think I agree with it. However, it is an interesting read. This paragraph stood out for me:
“U.S. trade sanctions imposed on its NATO allies extends across the trade spectrum. Austerity-ridden Lithuania gave up its cheese and agricultural market in Russia, and is blocking its state-owned railroad from carrying Belarus potash to the Baltic port of Klaipeda. The port’s majority owner complained that “Lithuania will lose hundreds of millions of dollars from halting Belarus exports through Klaipeda,” and “could face legal claims of $15 billion over broken contracts.” Lithuania has even agreed to U.S. prompting to recognize Taiwan, resulting in China refusing to import German or other products that include Lithuanian-made components.”
If true, isn’t it absurd that limited sanctions against Russia (and Belarus) have cost dear those imposing the sanctions, while billions of pounds have flowed into Russia every year from the west for gas, oil and coal that the west could have extracted from its own resources, had it not been for Putin’s useful green idiots?
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“Expulsion from Swift will hit Russia hard”
at 8.17am on that BBC thread:
“…Picking certain Russian banks will ensure the sanctions have the maximum impact on Russia, while preventing too much impact on Europe.
European businesses will be able to continue to collect money owed, and buy Russian energy….”.
Oh that’s all right, then, as long as we can still obtain Russian energy and pay the RUssians £10s of Billions for it. That should really hurt Putin.
“Picking certain Russian banks will ensure” … that the good guys get punished again?
That seems to be what happened with Browder. Some people are both greedy and angry.
Mark: “Bill, thanks for the link. I have only skimmed it so far, as it’s rather long, and on the basis of what I’ve read, I don’t think I agree with it.”
I also think it’s an under-explanation of some very weird facts. But at least he’s trying to get some of those facts in.
In your postscript, you quoted a comment aimed at Jamie Henn’s article:
“Even just a few weeks ago, if you said “Germany can’t actually run on nothing but solar and wind”, you were treated as stupid and even evil.
A decade ago, Putin mocked Merkel regarding German Green activists’ fight to prematurely shut nukes:
“I cannot understand what fuel you will take for heating? ….. so will you heat with firewood? But even for firewood, you will need to go to Siberia”
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Joe P: That could have been Putin as an honest friend. What a strange thought that is.
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@Bill – from your link –
“The line of least resistance for U.S. strategy seeking to maintain control of the world’s oil supply while maintaining its luxury-arms export market via NATO is to Cry Wolf and insist that Russia is on the verge of invading Ukraine – as if Russia had anything to gain by quagmire warfare over Europe’s poorest and least productive economy. The winter of 2021-22 has seen a long attempt at U.S. prodding of NATO and Russia to fight – without success.”
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In 30 minutes, Germany ended decades of policy on military, energy, debt and Moscow.
From the Globe and Mail (paywalled)
“Chancellor Olaf Scholz, searching for a way to describe the magnitude of the change he was about to announce, reached for a uniquely German word on Saturday: Zeitenwende, or literally “turning of eras.”
Even though the Green Party are part of the governing coalition:
“As part of the shock move to decouple Germany from Russian gas supplies, the coalition agreed to increase Germany’s coal and natural-gas reserves and to build new liquefied-natural-gas terminals to bring fuel from overseas – both seen as necessary solutions despite their high emissions”
“No energy source is “taboo” in the new German energy strategy to move away from Russian gas dependence, said economy minister Robert Habeck, a member of the Green Party.
Before Putin’s war in Ukraine, Germany planned to switch off all its remaining nuclear power generators by the end of 2022, while it also looked to retire a large portion of its coal-fired capacity fleet between 2022 and 2024. The country has said it would aim to phase out coal by 2030 – eight years ahead of earlier plans.
Extending the operation of the remaining nuclear power plants or phasing out coal later than 2030 are options currently under discussion, the minister said.”
potentilla: Wow, that has to be very good news. Hopefully not just for Germany but influential on others.
potentilla, RIchard – it’s amazing what a dose of bitter reality can achieve – but not yet among UK politicians, sadly. Still, it’s a start, but not a surprise. Germany has always prioritised its own interests. And while it’s possible to criticise Germany’s selfish behaviour of the years, isn’t putting one’s own citizens first what politicians are supposed to do? Somebody should tell the nodding donkeys in Westminster.
Well, that looks like the beginning of the end of German industry.
Odd that so many people don’t recognise that the costs of US sanctions on Russia are borne by European countries.
I wouldn’t want to be too dramatic, but I think three days has changed everything. The announcements coming from Germany, including from a Green party minister, are simply astounding. They have woken up. It is the UK that now looks like a laggard, yet we have banned all trade with Russia which includes gas and coal shipments. These will have to be replaced. There are calls for fracking to be restarted — yes, maybe only in the Telegraph and similar — but there are also calls for greatly increased storage of gas. Many policies we were all despairing over a week or two ago are suddenly being dramatically changed.
The war may yet get much more dangerous for all of Europe, I don’t underestimated Putin’s paranoia. There will almost certainly be further wrenching political and military changes and disasters. But at last there has been a general awakening to the dangers we have got ourselves into.
Bill Bedford, I think the quote posted by potentilla might suggest that Germany’s current politicians have woken up and are doing what they can (albeit belatedly) to preserve German industry. I live in hope that heriotjohn may be correct.
So you think it’s a good deal that Germany has to pay 30% for its gas with most of the surcharge going as rents to various US institutions?
Here’s a piece that gives a much wider view of how the world sees what is happening in Ukraine and its consequences:
@Bill – interesting read from your link above.
partial quote –
““It is important to see that both Russia and Ukraine have a certain degree of intention to negotiate, and the possibility of a political and diplomatic solution still exists. At the same time, the emerging powers, including India, Brazil and Argentina, did not follow the US ‘condemnation,’ but issued rational and pragmatic voices. These voices represent the views of a significant part of the international community, only simply ignored by Western media.”
but not sure about the end statement –
“Often in life there are things which you disapprove of but can do nothing about. For a generation of westerners who have grown up without the threat of war, Russia’s incursion into Ukraine may be one such. But in the haste of insisting that “something must be done,” our leaders raise the hubristic risk of an economic blowback that we are ill-prepared to cope with. As the old saying goes, “be careful what you wish for…”
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Bill, thanks for the link. It’s always interesting to see an alternative point of view. Sceptics should range far and wide in their reading. The article makes some interesting points, though it s author does seem to be straining with the facts a bit to achieve the end conclusions. The paragraph about western inflation is a curate’s egg, I think:
“Inflation – which central banks spent more than a decade to rekindle – has finally returned in its most dangerous, supply-side variant (i.e., the type of inflation which cannot be combatted with higher interest rates without crashing the economy). This is already weakening the pound, dollar, euro and yen in international trade – thereby furthering the rise in the cost of imported energy and commodities.”
I have long been concerned about the long-term inflationary consequences of long-term ultra-low interest rates and excessive QE, and it’s no surprise to me that inflation has returned with a vengeance. But as for the claim that it is already weakening major western currencies – I don’t think so. The £ has been strengthening since its post-Brexit decline, and the pound, dollar, euro and yen can’t all fall against each other. If one is falling, the other, relatively speaking, must be rising.
The problem of higher energy costs thanks to sanctions against Russia is that this situation has been a long time in the making, thanks to the useful green idiots. Being dependent on a country run by a madman for your key economic requirement (energy) is not a good strategy. As we emerge from winter in the northern hemisphere (where most “western” economies are) we have a small amount of time to try to do something about the problem before next winter. But at least it’s vaguely under our control now. What would have happened if Putin had unilaterally decided to shut off power to the west? Given his behaviour in the last week, who could honestly say that was never a possibility? No, if this shock results in the west re-gaining some sense regarding energy policy, it will, in the medium to long term, be a positive outcome. I don’t deny the prospects of a significant short-term shock.
That blogger is of the persuasion that the world’s monetary system is based on the production of energy. Since most of the world’s energy is provided by oil and gas, then a step-change in the cost of its production is the equivalent of monetary inflation since everything that is made with it become more expensive and so less can be bought.
Bill, it’s not an unreasonable analysis. However, where does it take us? Should we go hell for leather for expensive and unreliable renewables (which will take years to generate – sporadically, unreliably and expensively – decent amounts of energy)? Or should we remain dependent on Russian fossil fuels and continue to fund Putin’s war against Ukraine? Or do we accept that prices are going to go up, but we free ourselves from reliance on an unpredictable tyrant, stop funding his war, and guarantee reliable energy supplies domestically? It’s an unpalatable choice, but for me the third is the least worst option.
I read somewhere (I think the IEA but I can’t find it now) that there’s masses of frackable gas under Europe (most of it in France.)
There’s enough evidence in the rest of Richard’s article to demonstrate that there’s something more afoot than simple obtuseness. It’s either a culturally induced blindness of the kind Andy West keeps reminding us, or something weirder, like a WEF conspiracy to make us happy through suffering and ignorance. Or maybe the two hypotheses are but one.
Meantime I’m going to read Bill Bedford’s disturbing link. WordPress tells us very few of our readers actually read links. Changing that would change the nature of our interactions, and possibly the history of the world. (You wouldn’t believe the extent of our subterranean influence on events.)
Here’s more from Hudson’s February 8th article:
Well he got some of that wrong, but interestingly, since he’s dealing with real events in the real world, as opposed to emotions, unlike the majority of articles in the mainstream media. (The latest article on the BBC site was about the feelings of Ukrainian women giving birth in a hospital that hasn’t been bombed yet. There are dozens of hospitals in the world that have been bombed of course, notably in Yemen and Afghanistan, but the BBC doesn’t know that.)
I read Mike Hudson’s articles with interest 15 years go at the far left site CounterPunch, founded by Alexander Cockburn, son of the thirties Communist journalist/activist Claud Cockburn, who was dragged out of retirement in the seventies and given a column in the rightwing British satire magazine Private Eye. Alexander’s brother Patrick is the Independent’s Middle East correspondent. Alex Cockburn was one of the rare left wing activists to challenge the climate catastrophe narrative back in the noughties, for which he was soundly thrashed by Monbiot, who revealed that one of the authorities cited by Cockburn had once sat on a seat warmed by the bottom of a Ku Klux Klan sympathiser, or something.
Mike Hudson’s latest can be found here
All this just to demonstrate that curiosity and the search for rational explanation transcends traditional boundaries of left and right. But we climate sceptics knew that already.
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I don’t see how our buying their gas funds Putin’s war, unless his war depended on buying something from us. With a positive balance of payments, and a defence budget that doesn’t differ much whether the troops remain in barracks or go on a murderous rampage, (the only cost is in fuel, ammunition, and lives) Putin doesn’t care who buys his fossil fuels. If gas becomes so expensive that the West can no longer afford to produce steel or fertiliser, then China will produce it for us using the Russian gas and petrol that we refuse to import.
The only thing that the west has in its favour is a detailed history of the rise and decline of empires. (China’s history is longer, but not so well recorded.) But since no-one reads books any more (except Dominic Cummings and a few other loonies) the advantage is all on the side of China and Russia.
I sort of take your point, but Putin’s war depends on his having the military hardware – tanks, missiles, ammunition, aeroplanes, helicopters etc – in the first place. They don’t come cheap. He had to pay for them somehow, and he has done so by selling fossil fuels and raw materials, mostly to the west. Of course, he has an alternative buyer lined up now in the form of Xi’s China.
Xi, in turn, can afford to buy Putin’s fossil fuels and raw materials because the west has destroyed vast swathes of its manufacturing capability by forcing it to rely on expensive and unreliable renewable energy, as well as loading them with “green” taxes. Thus, those jobs and that manufacturing capability (and the associated greenhouse gas emissions) have been exported to China.
In a less globalised world, one in which the west had a rational energy and manufacturing policy, greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced (because there would be fewer transport miles), the west would have much greater independence from dubious countries (for products and energy), it would have more reliable and better-paid jobs, and it would be funding Putin, either directly or via China. Well, that’s what I think, anyway.
“Rex Murphy: ‘Greenism’ has helped Putin fuel his war machine
Will the horror of what is occurring in Ukraine wake up the environmentally ‘woke’ governments of the world to their folly?”
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Germany has seen the cold light of reality but not apparently the IEA
From the Global and Mail (paywall)
International Energy Agency releases plan to reduce European reliance on Russian gas
With Europe’s reliance on imported gas from Russia thrown into sharp relief by the country’s invasion of Ukraine, an analysis released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris Thursday outlined a series of steps the European Union can take to reduce its imports of Russian natural gas by more than one-third within a year.
The 10-point plan from the IEA includes a range of complementary actions over the coming months, such as turning more to non-Russian suppliers, drawing on other energy sources, and accelerating efforts to provide consumers, businesses and industry with clean and efficient alternatives to natural gas.
The IEA, a Paris-based organization that advises industrialized countries on energy issues, said the proposed measures also support the shift to clean energy in a secure and affordable way, and would pave the way for further emissions reductions.
“Europe needs to rapidly reduce the dominant role of Russia in its energy markets and ramp up the alternatives as quickly as possible,” said IEA executive director Fatih Birol.
The key actions in the report include signing no new gas contracts with Russia, maximizing gas supplies from other sources, accelerating the deployment of solar and wind and the replacement of gas boilers with heat pumps, ramping up energy efficiency measures in homes and businesses, and encouraging consumers to temporarily reduce their thermostats by 1°C.
Reduce by 1 degree C . Yes that’ll do it. Vlad will be worried now.
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“…should we remain dependent on Russian fossil fuels and continue to fund Putin’s war against Ukraine?”
Well “we” in the form of the US and Nato have been funding civil war in Ukraine for the last eight years, but I haven’t seen much condemnation of this in the Western press.
The end game of “Putin’s war” seems to be the attempt to de-dollarize the Russian economy. I can’t find a western commentator who takes this seriously, so here’s a Chinese view:
As for what we should do, well, that depends on what we want and how open-minded we are. This gives an outline of the problems and some of the possibilities. It’s complex therefore a bit long:
KIt looks like the world, and Europe in particular, is heading for interesting times.
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Bill, as always, thanks for the links. So far I have only read the second, but it was certainly an interesting read. “Interesting times” indeed – and as the Chinese proverb would have it, that’s not a good thing.
Bill – thanks for the 2nd link – extract –
“If the sanctions really did push Russia down, the result would tend to push the whole world economy toward collapse, because the rest of the world is extremely dependent upon Russia’s fossil fuel exports. In Figure 1, the laws of physics say that there is a proportional response to the quantity of energy “dissipated”; if a greater output of goods and services is desired, more energy input is required. Efficiency changes can somewhat help, but efficiency savings tend to be offset by the higher energetic needs of the more complex system required to achieve these savings.
If energy prices do not rise high enough, we will somehow need to get along with very little or no fossil fuels. It is doubtful that renewables will last very long either because they depend upon fossil fuels for their maintenance and repair.”
not sure how accurate this is, but sounds plausible ?
ps – notice China is never mentioned by the MSM on this war.
this article hints at a Russian/China deal to not interfere (maybe have read it wrong),
df. I don’t think you’ve got an agreement between Russia and China wrong at all. Rumours of a promise to China not to invade Ukraine, during the time the Olympics were occurring, were made and kept. Invasion took place almost as the sounds of the closing ceremony were fading away. I bet China was reassured that the war would be over well before the Paralympics started. The fact that Ukraine is still resisting and the war hogs the headlines must be a source of anger for the Chinese. This might explain the lack of fulsome support by China.
Bet China will buy up any surplus gas/oil from Russia though.
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Maybe worth a read:
“War in Ukraine: We Need to Talk About Fossil Fuels The E.U.’s dependence on Russian oil and gas greatly complicates the current conflagration”
@Mark – thanks for the link.
to many bits I could quote, but this stood out –
“Regardless, the E.U. is determined to double down on renewables: The main component of Europe’s response to Russia’s Ukraine invasion is a pledge to cut fossil fuel use by 40 percent by 2030. But during the same number of years, between 2012 and 2020, the E.U. managed to reduce the share of fossil fuels in its primary energy consumption from 76 percent to 71 percent. What are the chances that during the next eight years it will cut the share from 70 percent to about 42 percent?”
one comment below the article by Daniel Przybyl 3 MAR, 2022 gives this link – https://thecritic.co.uk/issues/december-2019/the-plot-against-fracking/
title “The plot against fracking – How cheap energy was killed by Green lies and Russian propaganda”
Another reason for Chinese pisstoffery? China gets much of its grain imports via Odessa. With shipping now at a standstill and handling facilities at the port at severe risk of damage….
My main memory of Odessa, apart from the magnificent steps, was of equally magnificent fronts to buildings which, when you looked down side streets were seen to be in an extremely poor state of repair: all image. That was around 20 years ago.
Better late than never, I suppose:
US in ‘very active discussion’ with allies to ban import of Russian oil
Secretary of state says Biden has convened a meeting of his National Security Council on the subject
“US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the US and its allies are engaged in a “very active discussion” about banning the import of Russian oil and natural gas in a new escalation of sanctions in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine.
The US and western allies have until now held off on current energy supplies from Russia, in order to avoid blowback on their own economies, where inflation is already making prices of gasoline and other goods a problem.
Earlier this week, the White House publicly rebuffed suggestions from lawmakers that the US ban Russian oil, which made up 3% of all the crude shipments that arrived in the US last year, according to data from the US Energy Information Administration.
But Europe is far more dependent, with an estimated 30% of oil and 39% of gas supplies coming from Russia.
Blinken told CNN on Sunday morning that Joe Biden convened a meeting of his National Security Council on the subject the day before.
“We are now talking to our European partners and allies to look in a coordinated way at the prospect of banning the import of Russian oil while making sure that there is still an appropriate supply of oil on world market,” said Blinken. “That’s a very active discussion as we speak.”
Republicans and a growing number of Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, back the idea of a Russian oil import ban, arguing that Russia’s lucrative exports fund Putin’s war effort….”.
On the other hand:
“Von der Leyen noncommital on Ukrainian EU membership, banning Russian energy imports
The EU Commission president says the bloc has to ‘get rid of the dependency’ on Russian fossil fuels.”
“European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday declined to say whether and when Ukraine would be given European Union membership, and refused to answer whether the EU would contemplate a total ban on imports of oil and gas from Russia….
…Von der Leyen also refused to say whether a ban on imports of Russian oil and gas — on which the bloc heavily relies for its energy supply — would be an option the EU is prepared to take.
Instead, she said that “we have to get rid of the dependency [on] fossil fuels from Russia. We’re just discussing in the European Union a strategic approach, a plan on how to accelerate investments into renewables, how to diversify our energy supply for example with you, our friends in the U.S. for LNG gas … and other friends around the world, how to invest heavily in biogas and in hydrogen that is homegrown. This is not only a strategic investment into our energy security but it is also good for the climate.”
The Commission will next week outline a list of actions for discussion by EU leaders on how to reduce the bloc’s energy dependency on Russia.”
A good article from (IMO) one of the BBC’s better reporters:
“EU mulls weaponising energy in Russia crisis”
“…The EU depends on Russia for 40% of its natural gas and a quarter of its oil imports.
EU countries pay about €1bn a day to Moscow for those supplies, according to Bruegel, the Brussels-based think tank.
The US – which is far less reliant on Russian energy supplies than Europe – says it’s considering banning Russian oil imports as part of its sanctions against the Kremlin.
On Monday, standing next to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Lithuania’s foreign minister agreed. “We cannot pay for oil and gas with Ukrainian blood,” he said….”.
“Ukraine war: PM calls for ‘step-by-step’ move from Russian fuel”
“…But Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte warned forcing a boycott now would have “enormous consequences”.
And in Germany, Chancellor Olaf Scholz cautioned against banning Russian oil and gas.
In a statement, he said Europe had “deliberately exempted” Russian energy from sanctions because its supply cannot be secured “any other way” at the moment….”.
While that remains the case, all the other sanctions are a mixture of virtue-signalling and re-arranging the deckchairs on the geopolitical Titanic. Western politicians should hang their heads in shame that such a scenario is in place.
Mark, Well I never! I was not aware that rearranging deckchairs could be so influential: driving the rouble to its lowest level ever, causing the Russian stock exchange to remain closed for days on end, ATMs to run out of cash, countless companies to remove their services, etc. The combined effect of which must have been for many Russian citizens to seek the truth and come out to protest. True none of this has caused Poutain (now my favourite spelling) to waiver any but then what might?
Alan, it all depends on what the west is trying to achieve. If it’s a long-term objective of regime change in Russia, then current sanctions might, over time, have some effect, by making the long-suffering Russian people suffer some more.
On the other hand, if the intention is to force Putin out of Ukraine, then the current sanctions aren’t working, and I believe won’t work. Of course it’s possible that nothing the west does would make Putin back down (even, God forbid, war with NATO). However, the one type of sanction that might – just might – have sufficient impact, is the very sanction that western leaders can’t contemplate, because in their arrogant, naive, complacent stupidity, aided and abetted by the Green blob, it would cause too much damage to their own countries.
Searching for news on Nicola Sturgeon this morning – wondering whether her colleagues were timorously wondering whether we might need some more gas after all – I find that the most important news about Sturgeon is that she “fundamentally disagrees” with JK Rowling on some aspect of the gender politics wars – didn’t click further to find out what.
A few stories down the list, a relevant headline in The Herald:
The historians of this day, if there ever are any, will have plenty to write about.
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Jit, BBC’s Radio 4’s The World At One gave her an easy 15 or 20 minutes yesterday. I couldn’t bear to listen to it, but if you can be bothered, I’m sure you could listen on BBC Sounds.
There is disinformation everywhere. Claims that the Ukrainians themselves are shelling their own people and atomic power plants are seemingly the most stupid and unbelievable of lies. Yet those opposed to Poitain’s war are similarly capable of, what at best can be described as shading the truth. As an example tally how many times you are presented with statements to the effect that “the whole world” is against Russia’s invasion. Yet recently Poutain gave a list of countries that he will retaliate against for their actions against Mother Russia. Metro converted this list into a map showing the 43 and also by elimination those countries that have not provoked future retaliation and, in most cases have not commented negatively against Poutain and Russia. The map is startling. Not a single country in Latin or South America, no one in Africa and the greater part of the Middle East or South East Asia. Most of the world in terms of area or population is not applying sanctions, nor is it castigating Poutine. It’s not just the BBC and The Guardian peddling this “false news”.
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“Climate change: EU unveils plan to end reliance on Russian gas”
“As countries scramble to reduce their reliance on Russia’s oil and gas in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine, few places are as exposed as the European Union.
The EU gets roughly 40% of its gas from Russia: According to figures from research group Transport & Environment, this dependence costs around $118m a day.
But moving with a speed few thought possible, the EU has now laid out a strategy that could cut reliance on this fuel source by two thirds within a year.
The REPowerEU plan aims to make Europe independent of Russian fossil fuels by 2030, but the initial efforts focus solely on gas….”.
Ambitious? “…to make Europe independent of Russian fossil fuels by 2030…”. Initial efforts focus only on gas. Ambitious? Try telling that to the Ukarainians. Especially given this:
“European oil receipts boosting Putin’s war chest by $285m a day, study finds
Thinktank says dependence on Russian oil underlines urgent need for clean energy”
“Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is being bolstered by $285m (£217m) in oil payments made every day by European countries, new analysis by the Transport & Environment (T&E) thinktank has found.
Russia received $104bn from its crude, petrol and diesel exports to Europe last year, more than twice the $43bn it took from gas shipments, the study estimated.
The analysis by the European clean-transport NGO was published shortly before the US and UK moved to ban Russian oil imports, and as Shell announced plans to shut down its Russian petrol stations and oil spot purchases.
“Gas is understandably a worry, but it is oil that is funding Putin’s war,” said William Todts, T&E’s director. …
…Europe imported more than 200m tonnes of oil from Russia each year between 2004 and 2017, even increasing its purchases in the two years after Russia seized Crimea in 2014….
…Russia is the source of almost four in every five oil barrels in Slovakia and two-thirds of those in Poland, Lithuania and Finland, while in Germany 29.7% of oil products come from Russia, the study says. The UK and Italy import about 12% of their oil and petroleum products from Russia, while in Portugal the figure is just 4%.
Restrictions on Russian oil imports were absent from an EU energy strategy launched in Brussels today, which instead focused on gas supply storage and diversification….”.
The EU is never going to be able to back out fast Mark. That’s a given. Good leaders have got to find a way to bring Putin to the negotiating table. Somebody who used to be his friend perhaps? Here’s a tweet I just came across from less than two and half years ago
Interesting to ponder as Zelensky “invokes Winston Churchill” in the House of Commons today. The British people were drawn to Churchill as PM in 1940 because, against all the establishment wisdom of the time, he had been warning about the dangers of Hitler and Naziism since 1933. So what of this guy? Cummings commented yesterday:
Zelensky wasn’t an elected politician in 1997 – he was only 19 – but this guy was and said something which in my view was both sensible and prescient:
But perhaps Afghanistan shows that executive competence is also important in a foreign affairs crisis 25 years later.
Here are two examples from a long thread of those who can say “told you so” in March 2022:
Who honestly thought it would? In a rational world, having your plan explained to the world would make most warmongers a little diffident about going through with a “special operation.” It has turned out to be the mother of stupid ideas. Cummings is rather cynical on Zelensky here. If Ukraine had actually joined NATO, Russia would not have invaded it. Therefore it is entirely rational for every country bordering Russia to want to join.
Perhaps the mistake was not inviting Russia to join. But “NATO needs an enemy.” No it doesn’t. But it has one now.
Nicola Sturgeon watch:
“Nicola Sturgeon accused of ‘recklessness’ for opposing North Sea oil and gas exploration” – Telegraph
“Nicola Sturgeon issues formal apology to historic victims of witchcraft allegations” – Holyrood press release
No prize for guessing which comes top of the news pile.
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“Who honestly thought it would?” The Georgians? The Chechens?
“Perhaps the mistake was not inviting Russia to join.” This mistake wasn’t made. Russia was invited, then the door was slammed in its face. That was a bigger mistake, because it broke trust.
I think Cummings commentary is fair. But Zelensky is very inexperienced. Many of those with first-hand experience of Russia and of western foreign policy since the 90s have warned of the dangers of the direction taken.
But, to be clear, here’s my parochial view. From 2000 to 2022 the UK’s aims should have been twofold:
1) Don’t let NATO provoke a war with Russia’s new leader
2) Move fast and radically to achieve UK energy independence.
That’s where the ‘useful idiots’ of the Roger Hallam, Lord Deben type come in. Their engineering denial (who coined that?) has been a national disgrace.
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Alan – the BEEB trots out the “the whole world” bit all the time, they are Global after all !!!
Richard – nice link above – “Biden in 1997 saying that the only thing that could provoke a “vigorous and hostile” Russian response would be if NATO expanded as far as the Baltic states”
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Dougie: I got that from Dominic Cummings in an addendum to his blog post of two days ago.
When I wrote this article, my focus was on the useful green idiots who have created a situation in which western states are massively dependent on countries with decidedly dodgy governments, for their energy security. Also, consequently, how western money has helped to fund Putin’s war machine and create the conditions which emboldened Putin’s attack, since he no doubt calculated that a western response to Ukraine would be muted, given the west’s reliance on Russian fossil fuels, and its muted response to his foreign adventures in the past.
Nevertheless, I am happy that the discussion has wandered on to bigger and more complex issues regarding: historic Russian/Ukrainian relations, NATO, the EU, who did what when and what mistakes might have been made in the past.
Expanding the discussion still further, I find the west’s hypocrisy to be sickening. A failure to comprehend the Russian leadership’s desire for security and a sphere of influence around its borders has been a basic error, as well as hypocritical, given the US Monroe Doctrine, which has represented US foreign policy for 200 years now. The west’s seeking the moral high ground, having invaded and destabilised sovereign states all over the world in recent decades, is crass in the extreme. And responding as forcefully as we have done following the invasion of a white sovereign nation, while being much more relaxed about similar events (including war crimes) in “non-white” parts of the world, has more than a whiff of racism about it, to my mind.
The whole thing is an appalling mess, created by the stupidity of politicians over at least 30 years. None of which is to excuse the invasion, or Putin. This is one man’s war. I have little belief that he will be held accountable, but I continue to hope for that.
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As ever, George Monbiot’s writing offers us a curate’s egg:
“It’s not too late to free ourselves from this idiotic addiction to Russian gas
I agree with most of the analysis, but not with the conclusion (as is so often the case when I read his articles).
Lenin once said, “There are decades in which nothing happens and weeks in which decades happen”. This natural clustering of events has serious implications for risk, since many risks, such as that of nuclear war, are profoundly non-ergodic. In the decades when nothing much is happening, this doesn’t have serious consequences. What matters is how the non-ergodic plays out in the highly active weeks. This is the theory behind the ‘We live in interesting times’ proverb.
I read the other day that risk analysists within the financial investment institutions are working on a 10% chance of nuclear war within the next twelve months. You don’t need a PhD in mathematics to work out that this translates to a near 70% chance of such an outcome within the decade. I suppose that this bleak estimate takes into account the likely impact of imposing economic sanctions on a nuclear state that is already engaged in a conventional war that it needs to win. Despite its difficulties, trade is generally speaking a stabilizing influence. Cutting off the nuclear power from trade is likely to have non-ergodic consequences.
I am interested in the concept that the West purchasing Russian energy has fuelled the buildup of its military (with the implication that it’s our fault). But Russia has always spent a high percentage of its wealth upon its military. If it wasn’t energy, it would be something else that we have need of, like nickel or nitrates for fertiliser, that would supply the readies.
Alan, thank you for raising a relevant point. Sadly, pretty much everything the west buys from Russia probably helps to fund Putin’s war machine. However, I don’t think there is any doubt that fossil fuel purchases have supplied (and continue to supply) huge amounts of money to Russia. Fossil fuel sales represent a huge proportion of Russian exports, and a significant proportion of the Russian economy.
Mark it’s interesting isn’t it that at times like this the money from the West’s purchase of Russian-supplied fossil fuels (now damned for two reasons) is linked to the purchase of weapons and support for the military? At other times it might be linked to raising the standard of living of the Russian masses. It is so noticeable how many seemly ordinary Muscovites on the TV news brandish smart phones and appear very well dressed (both new from when I first visited in the 1990s). Both destinations for the export income are probably correct. Yeh pays yeh money and yeh takes yeh choice.
Alan, yes indeed, trade is usually mutually beneficial, so long as there isn’t a grave imbalance, and can be good for raising living standards. However, smartphones are almost ubiquitous now, and I think you’ll find lots of people with them even in very poor countries – I’m not sure they’re a good indicator of how well somewhere is doing. I also suspect that travel beyond Moscow and St Petersburg (perhaps no further than their crumbling suburbs, but certainly into the vast hinterland) and the situation won’t look so rosy.
As you have pointed out here earlier, the Russian government spends a ridiculous proportion of Russia’s GDP on the military. That tends to do little if anything (quite the contrary in fact) for ordinary people.
“Ukraine’s President Zelensky to BBC: Blood money being paid for Russian oil”
“Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused European countries that continue to buy Russian oil of “earning their money in other people’s blood”.
In an interview with the BBC, President Zelensky singled out Germany and Hungary, accusing them of blocking efforts to embargo energy sales, from which Russia stands to make up to £250bn ($326bn) this year.
There has been a growing frustration among Ukraine’s leadership with Berlin, which has backed some sanctions against Russia but so far resisted calls to back tougher action on oil sales.”
“German Social Democrats face more heat over Russian energy ties
Regional SPD leader Manuela Schwesig under scrutiny over documents showing Gazprom links.”
“Germany’s ruling Social Democrats are facing fresh pressure over their links to Moscow after accusations that a regional leader worked with Kremlin-backed energy giant Gazprom to undermine U.S. sanctions and spread Russian propaganda….
…The documents showed that a foundation backed by the company and the regional government, supposedly meant to champion environmental causes, was a vehicle to circumvent the U.S. measures….”.
“Germany to stop Russian oil imports by end of this year”
“Germany has said it will halt imports of Russian oil by the end of this year.
“We will halve oil by the summer and will be at zero by the end of the year, and then gas will follow,” said German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock.
Germany currently buys a quarter of its oil and 40% of its gas from Russia and has warned that it could face a recession if supplies suddenly stopped….
…Ms Baerbock said Germany would follow a “European roadmap” in phasing out oil and gas imports.
The EU has said it will make Europe independent from Russian energy “well before 2030″….”.
That’s all right then. Ukrainians just have to hold off the Russians for anything up to another 7 years, then EU nations will stop funding Russia’s war against them. I hope the Ukrainians are duly grateful.
as you note above, on the news today – “Germany has said it will halt imports of Russian oil by the end of this year”
but nothing on Gas imports (I don’t think I heard anything ?)
they are also shy about reporting on Germany’s “https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/correction-germany-nuclear-shutdown-story-82051054?msclkid=38145031c10011ec8fa1acf55393c2e5”
Two stories in the last hour or so from the BBC:
Work from home to beat Putin, says EU:
Wimbledon ban on Russian players is discrimination – Andrey Rublev
A number of Ukrainian players seem to agree. Perhaps because they can see the effects inside Russia better than we can. See again this careful study by an anti-war Russian inside the country: “Now we're going to f*ck them all.” What's happening in Russia's elites after a month of war – Sanctions and propaganda have rallied even those who were against the invasion around Putin
Difficult questions. Do EU citizens who choose not to “drive less, turn down air conditioning and work from home three days a week” have blood on their hands from now on? Or do even the Lawn Tennis Association and Wimbledon organisers have blood on their hands because of the effect their decisions may be having?
Neither, in my view. Quiet Flows the Don.
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found an old link from (2018) – Germany’s enormously expensive Energiewende green energy transformation is sputtering. The numbers tell the story.
that was 4yrs ago, wonder what the situation is now ?
found an old link from (2018) – Germany’s enormously expensive Energiewende green energy transformation is sputtering. The numbers tell the story.
that was 4yrs ago, wonder why we never hear anything about “Energiewende” and what the situation is now ?
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“Exclusive: France and Germany evaded arms embargo to sell weapons to Russia”
At the Telegraph, but behind the wall. Also covered at the Mail: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10745115/France-Germany-sold-230million-military-hardware-including-bombs-missiles-Moscow.html
Germany, France, Italy, Bulgaria, Austria, Czech Republic and even dear ol’ Blighty have been sending weapons to Russia. This related to contracts dating from before the annexation of the Crimea. But:
That’s April 8 2022, if there is any ambiguity.
Dougie, Ed Hoskins has an analysis of last year’s electricity generation in the UK, Germany and France. He says this about the state of the Energiewende:
Naturally France is doing best, thanks to all the nukes.
Jit: Thanks for mentioning this Telegraph story. I’d thought of pointing to it here but backed off.
How much was the US supplying Russia with weapons after 1991 (collapse of communism) and 1999 (rise of Putin)? Not so much I assume. Which power was the prime mover in the expansion of Nato when their key experts like George Kennan were dead against, because it would be seen as a provocation by Moscow?
This was Europe asserting its independence and now being punished for it. At least that’s one way to look at it.
Energy plays a role, for sure, but it will never be the whole.
Jit – thanks for the Ed Hoskins link. quote –
“The massive efforts of the German die Energiewende policy since 2010, in 2021 have resulted in ~29% of its power being derived from Wind and Solar power, (as opposed to the 22.6% contribution in the UK).
German Weather-Dependent generation, Wind and Solar power, produced the equivalent of ~19GW from an installed base of 110GW with a ~20% of the contribution being from Offshore installations. The CO2 emissions from German use of fossil fuels and particularly biomass effectively negates all/any German CO2 emissions savings that may have been achieved by its other German Energiewende Wind and Solar installations.”
19GW from an installed base of 110GW – Wow, and the UK is racing to overtake everyone & be “the “Saudi Arabia” of wind power” !!!
“Not accurate … highly misleading”
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German energy giant Uniper gives in to Russian rouble demand
Bluster gives way to reality, as Scott Ritter predicted back on 23rd March
At the end of the piece I cited yesterday on Putin the Record Straight, the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen wrote:
That was late on 24th May. A little earlier Business Insider had run the stark headline:
Kissinger says Ukraine must give up land to Russia, warns West not to seek to humiliate Putin with defeat
That story derived from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reporting from Davos for the Telegraph late on 23rd:
Henry Kissinger: Ukraine must give Russia territory
I knew nothing of this intervention until late yesterday – I only learned about it from Alexander Mercouris’ lengthy video from 24th:
UK Media Says Russia 'Close to Major Victory' in Donbass, Western Unity Crumbles in Davos
The first time I’d listened to Mercouris. What I’m saying is that I’m very ignorant. But I agree with him that Russia is doing much better in Donbas than almost all the Western MSM had prepared us for – and indeed that Henry Kissinger admits. But Mercouris argues, persuasively, that Kissinger wouldn’t be saying what he is if that wasn’t the reality.
What’s the relationship with this thread? The Greens. And one in particular who was also at Davos: Robert Habeck, Vice Chancellor of Germany and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. Evans-Pritchard writes:
Mercurio reads this bit out, with sardonic commentary, at around 27 mins. But which side are we on? Difficult.
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“EU’s Russian oil ban hangs by a thread as mood darkens in Brussels
Diplomats are trying to rescue the EU’s stalled sanctions plan ahead of next week’s vital summit.”
“EU countries are desperately searching for a way to save their plan to ban imports of Russian oil, as hopes of a breakthrough fade ahead of a crucial European leaders’ summit next week.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who first proposed the sanctions three weeks ago, signaled on Tuesday that there was little chance of an agreement among all 27 EU member countries in time for the leaders’ gathering in Brussels on May 30.
Behind the scenes, diplomats and officials are still working to stop the package of sanctions falling apart completely as they confront the possibility that they may never reach a deal on banning Russian oil. As has been the case for the past month, it’s Hungary’s Viktor Orbán who is refusing to sign up to the deal, citing the severe cost to his economy of ditching Russian fuel.
Failure would be a damaging blow to the bloc’s credibility and a major political and economic boost for Vladimir Putin, who relies on fossil fuel exports to help finance his invasion of Ukraine.”
“George Soros slams Merkel for ‘special deals’ on Russian gas
Philanthropist praises Italy’s Mario Draghi but has harsh words for former German leader.”
“The philanthropist George Soros laid the blame for Europe’s Russian gas addiction squarely on ex-German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “special deals” with Moscow.
“Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels remains excessive, due largely to the mercantilist policies pursued by former Chancellor Angela Merkel,” said Soros, in a speech on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Tuesday evening. “She had made special deals with Russia for the supply of gas and made China Germany’s largest export market.”
As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine begins its fourth month, EU sanctions against Russian oil — much less gas — remain out of reach.”
You would have thought that the EU gurus would have talked to the oil industry so they knew what would happen when Russian oil dried up:
I would not call Soros a philanthropist!
Please pass this note to Mr. Kissinger.
A point for naming the speaker. A second point if you know what Henry Kissinger was doing at about the time it was made.
But seriously folks…. I don’t see how a rational Zelenskyy can formally cede territory, even if its loss becomes a fact on the ground.
1) Duff Cooper, conservative MP.
2) Escaping Nazi Germany
Isn’t the internet a wonderful thing?
Surely a rational Zelensky could, assuming he had the moral clarity to see that delaying would mean far more deaths of his own people and a worse deal with Putin at the end. But that would be emotionally hard – today more than before the fighting started or a few weeks into it.
Is Zelensky a Churchill or a Imre Nagy? Probably neither but worth a spin. Churchill (with Roosevelt) became massively dependent on Stalin, leading to a number of dark decisions, such as falsely blaming the Nazis for Katyn when he knew his ally was the mass-murderer there. And much worse at the end of the War. Nagy had the misfortune to come up against the successors to Stalin when they had nuclear weapons. Not as familiar a name even as Duff Cooper. Where can we expect Zelensky’s fame to be in another 66 years time? Like Bowen’s friend Mitry in Donbas I’m not Nostradamus either.
Kiev is now apparently sending badly-prepared and poorly-equipped reservists to the front in Donbas and overruling its military leaders on the need for flexibility eg the need on occasions to beat a retreat to save lives. This is leading to deep resentment within the country. Or so reports that I find convincing say. Other takes are available that are more comforting to Western sensibilities. So I guess they must be true.
I continue to find it striking that the most prominent Green in European politics was such an impassioned moralist at Davos, quite willing for the German people – and all of the EU – to suffer a massive energy crisis that I assume he doesn’t in the least understand – thanks Bill for the sobering report from The Saker on the many different types of oil and the practical impossibility of swapping suppliers.
To cap all that, in his latest summary Alexander Mercouris admits to being surprised at how far the Russian economy has bounced back from its problems in the early days of sanctions. Unlike the West itself. Dominic Cummings has also, early on, stated how good the Kremlin’s economic gurus are deemed to be by independent observers. That part of the ‘war’ is also not going so well.
John, it goes without saying that you score a thousand points for having access to Google. I wonder if your search took you to Hansard? Duff Cooper’s speech was his “personal explanation” for having resigned from government. It was immediately followed by the PM’s statement on Munich and subsequent debate, which those interested in history can find at:
Reading the contributions to the debate, it’s easy to see that we had superior intellects running the show and opposition back then compared to those of today.
That is what I was getting at by quoting Mr. Cooper. We had deals with the Corporal, and that didn’t turn out well. Any such deal would have to have guarantees by third countries for anyone to trust it. Note in reference to the above debate that Czechoslovakia had guarantees, and we threw the Czechs under the bus. The debate on October 3, 1938 regarding what had been promised to the Czech people makes interesting reading with the benefit of knowledge of what happened next.
I don’t think the parallels are by any means exact, but they are striking. What would have happened if the Czechs had stood at their border?
As to the war going badly, Putin probably thought he could invade with 3 conscripts in a Trabby, who would arrive in Kiev being showered in rose petals, to install the local puppet sub-dictator to run the country before tea time. Most people probably thought that Russia would force a general surrender within a fortnight. The reality has been somewhat different.
If only Putin had read “The North Wind and the Sun.” He could have done Russia a lot more favours as the latter than as the former.
We all have access to Google, so we all have a thousand points. Except that I have 1002. 😀
No, I wasn’t led to Hansard but I did get to see Cooper’s speech in full, and you are right to point out how standards have fallen since.
“EU mulls diluting Russian oil ban to get Hungary on board
Plan could allow Hungary and others to keep buying Russian oil from pipelines, with a ban only on deliveries by ship.”
“…Now diplomats are weighing up an option that would water down the original proposal for a complete ban on all imports of Russian oil, and focus instead, at least temporarily, only on supplies delivered to the bloc by ship. That would leave landlocked Hungary — among other countries including Germany and Slovakia — able to keep buying Russian crude pumped through pipelines….”.
I do have to come clean and say that I see Putin as much better than Hitler.
My visit to Prague in November was incredibly moving, not least because I did a couple of historic walks guided by some well-informed and passionate Czech young people. The torture described at the end, of a young child, I will never forget. One could blame Churchill pretty directly for that as well, if one was so minded. Rest assured that I don’t take such things lightly.
As with John just now, sorry this is too short.
“Stall on oil ban shows EU capitals trying to limit pain of helping Ukraine
As Russian troops grind through Donbas, EU nations bicker over technicalities of an oil embargo.”
“For many EU leaders, spiking inflation, especially in the cost of energy and food, is proving to be a scarier enemy than Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The proof is in the now 25 days — and counting — they have failed to reach an agreement on banning Russian oil imports, which would jack up consumer prices even more.
Diplomats in Brussels continued to struggle on Sunday to clinch a last-hour compromise ahead of a European Council summit. Once again, they came up short. A European Commission official said a deal was expected later this week, but other officials and diplomats said there was a collective lack of acute urgency that reflected deep ambivalence in many capitals about the oil embargo.
Even if EU heads of state and government arrive for their summit sheltered from embarrassment by whispers of a tentative accord, the nearly month-long delay to adopt the oil ban — and the excruciating process to devise exemptions and compensation for hold-out nations — has provided a stark illustration of how leaders rank the threats they now face.
Putin’s armies may or may not destroy Ukraine, but rising voter anger over soaring consumer prices poses a far more immediate danger of getting European politicians voted out of office.
And though preserving Ukraine’s territorial integrity is a much-professed priority, it has not been as great an imperative in recent days as preserving the “level playing field” of the EU’s own single market, which would be tilted by a compromise plan to ban Russian oil delivered by tankers while still allowing oil to flow via pipeline.
Some countries heavily reliant on seaborne oil, as well as those with big petroleum shipping businesses, initially resisted the exception for pipeline oil, which like other exemptions is intended to be temporary in nature.
And even on Sunday evening, some Western European countries complained bitterly that the pipeline exemption would unfairly benefit countries like Germany and Poland that aren’t at risk of fuel shortages — granting them unfair economic advantage.
The EU’s inability to agree on cutting off one of the most vital revenue streams used by the Kremlin to finance the war has come as Russian forces slowly but surely churn ahead in their bid to conquer all of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. Ukrainian cities and villages are being flattened as EU officials bicker over how to divide up some €2 billion being set aside for energy transition, and as countries accuse each other of exploiting the war for economic advantage.”
When is an embargo not an embargo?
“EU leaders agree on Russian oil embargo
Package includes exemptions to placate Hungary and other countries worried about domestic impact.”
“EU leaders agreed late Monday night on a political deal to impose sanctions on Russian oil imports.
“Agreement to ban export of Russian oil to the EU,” European Council President Charles Michel tweeted from a leaders’ summit in Brussels. “This immediately covers more than 2/3 of oil imports from Russia, cutting a huge source of financing for its war machine.”
The Council of the EU must still formally agree on the sanctions.
The compromise will allow Russia’s pipeline oil exports to the EU to continue temporarily, while seaborne shipments are blocked by the end of the year, as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced earlier this month.
Von der Leyen tweeted that the leaders’ agreement “will effectively cut around 90% of oil imports from Russia to the EU by the end of the year.”…”.
Unless more is despatched via pipelines, of course.
“The EU’s oil ban is a damp squib
EU countries have paid over £40 billion to Russia for gas and oil since the invasion”
“Since February, EU countries have paid over £40 billion to Russia for its gas and oil – money which is helping fund the Russian military machine. But even after Monday’s new EU agreement, which was supposed to phase out oil and gas imports for good, substantial trade will continue. The agreement only really tries to bring an end to oil imports which arrive from Russia by ship. Imports via pipeline – which account for a quarter of the total – will be exempt. This is to ensure the continuation of supplies to Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary, which are highly dependent on the pipelines – Slovakia obtains virtually all its oil in this way. The loudest whelp of joy from Monday night’s negotiations came from Hungary’s PM Viktor Orban, who boasted on Facebook that Hungary would be exempt from the embargo. It isn’t just Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary, either – Poland and Germany will be allowed to continue to draw oil from Russian pipelines, although they have said they will try to stop doing this by the end of the year. Assuming they do meet this deadline, the best that can be hoped for is that by this time next year EU oil imports from Russia will be down by 90 per cent on pre-invasion levels – a long way from a complete cessation.”
“‘We were all wrong’: how Germany got hooked on Russian energy
Germany has been forced to admit it was a terrible mistake to become so dependent on Russian oil and gas. So why did it happen?”
“…in 2020, Russia would supply more than half of Germany’s natural gas and about a third of all the oil that Germans burned to heat homes, power factories and fuel vehicles. Roughly half of Germany’s coal imports, which are essential to its steel manufacturing, came from Russia.
An arrangement that began as a peacetime opening to a former foe has turned into an instrument of aggression. Germany is now funding Russia’s war. In the first two months after the start of Russia’s assault on Ukraine, Germany is estimated to have paid nearly €8.3bn for Russian energy – money used by Moscow to prop up the rouble and buy the artillery shells firing at Ukrainian positions in Donetsk. In that time, EU countries are estimated to have paid a total of €39bn for Russian energy, more than double the sum they have given to help Ukraine defend itself. The irony is painful. “For thirty years, Germans lectured Ukrainians about fascism,” the historian Timothy Snyder wrote recently. “When fascism actually arrived, Germans funded it, and Ukrainians died fighting it.”…”.
Bjorn Lomborg commenting on an important article by Ted Nordhaus in Foreign Policy magazine: “Russia’s War Is the End of Climate Policy as We Know It”
Dominic Cummings this morning:
As with other pundits, you don’t have to agree with everything to do well to listen to some parts.
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Even worse, because much deeper. (Longer as well.)
Not easy for any European leader, including the new UK prime minster.
There’s no good news in the following tweets I’m afraid. I’ve included two that are “commentary” wondering about how US-led foreign policy may have deliberately crippled Europe. You may not agree with that. But once Germany and others suffer the full consequences there will be some very bad feeling.
“European gas storage injections have plummeted since the start of planned Nord Stream maintenance (July 11 – 22), as Russia fails to even partially replace the drop in flows via other routes, and contract under-delivery continues. Stocks remain below 5-yr averages ”
But wasn’t it the Ukrainians who close the pipeline across their territory in May?
I’ve not heard of it being reinstated.
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Bill: I have no idea what influence Ukraine now has on Nord Stream maintenance. My hunch is the Russians have more though.
The Nord Stream Pipelines are under the Baltic sea giving a direct connection between Russia and Germany. However there is a whole network of pipelines that cross Ukraine, it is one of these that The Ukrainians turned off in May.
There’s a better map here:
It’s not going to go well in Europe this winter (mind you, we in the UK may have nothing to crow about either):
“EU’s gas-saving plans run into resistance
The EU is scrambling to find a strategy if Russia shuts off gas.”
“Key details of the EU plan, like how cuts would be distributed across countries, are still being worked out. But it’s likely to face resistance as no one wants to be first in the line of fire if it comes to gas curtailment.
Big gas guzzlers like the chemical industry argue they’re essential to consumers and industry alike and shouldn’t take the first hit.
No gas for chemicals means “no chemicals for yeast, no yeast for bread,” said Marco Mensink, director general of chemical lobby CEFIC. It also means “no chlorine for drinking water, no drinking water … and no active pharmaceutical ingredients, no drugs.”
Industry groups are also warning of the damages to installation if Moscow were to cut supply, because some production processes, like glass, require a constant gas input. “Stopping gas inputs to the glass industry would be a catastrophically last resort option,” said Bertrand Cazes, secretary general of Glass Alliance Europe, a lobby group.
Countries that managed to stockpile enough gas for the winter, like Poland, or who are less reliant on gas, like Spain and Portugal, are reluctant to cut consumption and hurt their economies in the process.
“We are against imposing mandatory reduction targets. The solidarity mechanism must not lead to a reduction in the energy security of any member state,” said Polish Climate Minister Anna Moskwa.
“We don’t like it at all,” said an EU diplomat.
Other countries have already started hoarding. Last week, Hungary declared a state of emergency in energy, with plans to prevent gas from being exported to other countries beginning in August — provoking a fierce reaction from Brussels.”
If only the Green zealots hadn’t campaigned so successfully to prevent Europe from using its own fossil fuel resources (and in some cases nuclear power too).
“Escalation around Kaliningrad” doesn’t sound good. But none of this sounds good.
It’s not easy to avoid bloody hands if you allow climate activists to dictate that you must not use your own fossil fuels:
“Blood for oil: Meet the world’s worst leaders selling dirty energy to Europe
The EU wants to wean itself off fossil fuels from Russia. The other options aren’t great.”
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“Hungary signs new gas deal with Gazprom”
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EU U-turns on global transfer restrictions of Russian coal, fertilisers and other goods
Learned about from Bloomberg’s Energy and commodities columnist via Dominic Cummings:
For some reason there were not so many references to this at the United Nations yesterday, though Biden and Truss had a lot to say about Russia.
I wondered how long it would take for someone to make the link…
“Nord Stream gas leaks may be biggest ever, with warning of ‘large climate risk’
‘Colossal amount’ of leaked methane, twice initial estimates, is equivalent to third of Denmark’s annual CO2 emissions or 1.3m cars”
Mark – love this quote – “Germany’s environment agency said there were no containment mechanisms on the pipeline, so the entire contents were likely to escape”
“likely to escape” – no likely about it.
The leading German Green getting some reaction …
from Swedish Greens
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The causes and consequences of the Ukraine war. A lecture by John J. Mearsheimer
ps – John – he mentions “Seabreeze”
” EU payments for Russian fuel since war reach beyond €100bn”
Behind a paywall, but there’s this:
Here’s the BBC on 16th October, after the last comment on this thread
But that’s the not the armed conflict our state broadcaster and the rest of the media has been most concerned about since this thread began in February 2014. Silly me, wrong year, that was before Cliscep even began. How have I got this all so wrong?
In August a young anti-war, anti-Putin Russian woman visited Dombas for the first time, working as a translator. Maria Lelyanova said afterwards “I had no clue” – meaning about the true history of that region since 2014. (That link takes you straight to that part.) I find Maria’s testimony both compelling and convincing. But even if you’re not convinced, a smaller concession could be to admit that, like her, you had no clue about the history. Just as many of us still haven’t about Tigray. Because the media hasn’t told us to care about it.
There are terrible things going on all over the world, of which the conflict in east Africa is a particularly unpleasant example. It’s rather astonishing that the likes of the BBC and the Guardian and much of the liberal media fixate endlessly about a supposed climate crisis in Africa (and elsewhere) while largely ignoring events of much greater significance in such places.
One of my regular criticisms of the BBC (less so of the Guardian, since although it annoys me, it isn’t funded by the TV licence and doesn’t have a Charter to abide by) is that although it has 24/7 news coverage, most of that coverage is on a repetitive loop, and ignores so much important news from around the world. Its 24/7 news coverage is a wonderful opportunity to educate the British public, but instead we are treated to dumbed-down, tabloidesque coverage. There are glimmers of light in the BBC darkness, especially on Radio 4 (I remain a fan of “From Our Own Correspondent”), and some of the better journalists such as Katya Adler and Jeremy Bowen but increasingly it’s just low-grade.
That said, important and awful though the east African conflict is, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a significant focus to be on the Ukraine war – the east African conflict may well be more deadly, and I don’t mean to diminish the loss of those lives, but in geopolitical terms, with potentially desperate consequences for the whole of mankind, the Ukraine conflict is probably the most worrying and important threat facing the world just now, IMO.
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Thanks Mark. I agree about the importance to all peoples of avoiding World War III. But I don’t think the way the media, including much of Twitter, have been discussing the problem for the last year has been helping.
As I was saying to you and Jit by email yesterday I’ve been moving office in the last few days – also a lame excuse for this reply taking a while. Anyway, as I went through tons of stuff this front page from 25th February last year jumped out at me again:
The Hitler analogies were without any nuance. And yet (to quote a Ukraine specialist dfhunter was pointing to in October):
Mearsheimer speaking in 2014. Putin had his reasons to support the ‘rebels’ the moment they became rebels, because of a coup in Kyiv with Nazi undertones, supported by ‘the West’, in February that year. Or, as Maria Lelyanova now says, having visited Dombas, the current war was ‘inevitable’. She didn’t think so before but then she admits she didn’t know the history before. That doesn’t mean she thinks Putin is either wise or wonderful. But … the context is vital. And the stakes if we get it wrong are truly dreadful.
Sorry that my last two comments here have had nothing to do with climate or energy or the climate/energy stupidity that has made Europe all the more vulnerable to the energy price and availability shocks that have arisen because of:
1. Russia’s ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine since 24 Feb 2022
2. The West’s reaction to it, including blowing up the Nordstream pipelines (assumed to be the West from the moment it happened, by this reader).
But I do have two connections to make now. The German Greens now have, as fate would have it, important executive power in that most pivotal European country. How good do we think their judgement is, as the world faces possible nuclear escalation and trip-wires? I’d prefer JFK to Biden, come to that. Green magical thinking can infect other areas of thinking. Or so my thinking goes.
On what may seem a more trivial note than that, this was an article on the BBC on 20th February: How the Ukraine war is creating family rifts in Russia. I’ll give the first n paragraphs, for proper context, but my point is about the use of stats:
So “75% of respondents aged 40 and over said they supported the war, compared with 62% of those aged 18-24.” I was amazed it was that much for the 18-24 group. And that is so little different from the over 40s, with the 25-40 number suspiciously not even given.
Of course there’s a difference between the generations on this. But such a small one. We’ve come across this again and again in truly unimportant climate stats. The temperature is now a full 1.5degC from pre-industrial, when all the anomalisation has been done. I mean, really, big deal. 15degC (roughly the average temp if the planet) is a whopping 288deg Kelvin. Now that’s a difference!
Most of these differences are trivially unimportant:
I felt the same reading the BBC piece on a generation gap in Russia. But that doesn’t take away the genuine tragedy of a father and sister having to bury one precious young man killed. And the many others in the same boat.
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O/T but thanks for link back to “kanekoa.substack.com” above Richard.
had another look at that thread to see what further comments had been added & notice this –
Banned by Vijaya • Resurrected by Elon • Independent Citizen Journalist”
from comments I found this vid simplistic but informative to give context/not justification to this conflict https://twitter.com/i/status/1629596543178407936
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Thanks dfh. I don’t totally go with kanekoa by the way. The situation is highly complex. There are nuances everywhere – or should be.
But what I said in my last comment about Richard Lindzen’s view of the climate farrago was written before I realised he’d spoken at Heartland’s Climate Conference on 24th February. (H/t Judith Curry.) He strongly repeated the theme of ‘big deal’ differences and ‘trivially unimportant’ numbers:
The whole thing is well worth taking in. Lindzen goes much further into the incredibly shaky foundations of climate hogwash. He admits that he himself has been to blame for arguing the wrong things in the wrong way (for instance, on climate sensitivity). And if he has, I think it’s highly likely we all have. But I want to process the later Lindzen. (Bit like the later Wittgenstein.) I am bound to say more in due course.
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I luv Lindzen…
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Sorry that the video of Lindzen I posted (talk given at Heartland in Florida) cut out the beginning of his talk. Now corrected.
“Ukraine accuses Hungary of funding Russian war crimes with energy deals
Moscow’s energy exports might be cheap, but they cost Ukrainian lives, a senior Zelenskyy adviser says.”
“India’s Russia oil imports jumped tenfold in 2022, bank says”
Which leads interestingly into the question of why on earth anyone thinks developing countries are likely to follow the “lead” set by the UK’s net zero suicide mission.