Outrage is cheap in European capitals. Action comes dearer.
European leaders have both agonized over Russia’s invasion and at the same time spared Russian energy from otherwise wide-ranging sanctions to avoid plunging their own countries—many of which are heavily reliant on Moscow’s supply—further into an energy crunch. But as calls for tougher measures grow, many European leaders are now facing a painful dilemma: How can they further hit back at Moscow and sever energy ties when doing so could push their countries into economic crisis?
“It’s not going to be an easy road for Europe,” said Samantha Gross, an energy security expert at the Brookings Institution. “From a moral point of view, they definitely want to be off of Russian oil and gas, but it’s easier said than done.”
Europe is Russia’s top energy customer, purchasing more than half of Russia’s crude oil exports and the bulk of its natural gas shipments. As the war continues into its second month, Ukrainian officials say continuing to purchase Russian energy is tantamount to funding the war in Ukraine
Purchasing Russian gas is tantamount to running business and having paying jobs, warming your home, being clean, having clean clothing and staying warm being able to cook etc., Staying healthy. And disease free
The European Union is deeply dependent on Moscow’s supply, getting around 40 percent of its natural gas imports and a quarter of its oil supply from Russia. Experts say securing enough alternative energy sources to replace Moscow’s supply would be exceedingly difficult, even impossible, in the short term, especially given measures taken in recent years by big countries such as Germany to phase out nuclear power and coal, both of which could be alternatives to Russian fuels. Even after Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine in 2014, Germany went all-in on a second big Russian gas pipeline meant to redouble dependence on Siberian gas and cut Ukraine out of the energy trade.
The EU’s latest sanctions package only banned Russian coal imports, which are of less economic significance to Moscow (and to Europe). Japan, initially reluctant to cut energy ties with Russia, also banned coal imports on Friday.
Other European nations that are more heavily dependent on Moscow’s supply, namely Germany and Austria, insist that these immediate measures would be impossible to adopt. Last year, Germany purchased roughly half of its natural gas and coal supply, and more than one-third of its oil, from Russia. Austria receives 80 percent of its natural gas supply from Russia.
Experts warn that the immediate loss of all Russian energy would be painful all over Europe. “If you were to cut off Russian gas supplies to Europe completely, I think you would see energy-intensive industries shutting down, you would see rationing of energy,” said Jason Bordoff, founding director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University and a former adviser to the White House under President Barack Obama. “There simply would not be enough molecules to meet energy needs immediately.”
Since Europe should now be refilling its gas storage for the upcoming winter, Bordoff said, the impact of a full embargo could also spill into the next year. “You’re just setting yourself up for an energy crisis come next winter,” he said.
Europe can cut off it’s nose to spite it’s stupid looking face or it can stand by it’s people and ensure Ukraine and Russia get to that bargaining table and work to bring this military action to an end as quickly, efficiently and sanely as possible. Saving lives everywhere. As should have been occurring already. Diplomacy. Cooler heads. Rationality. Instead this war has been encouraged by the NATO nations in particular. US led NATO and the UK are two of the worst provocateurs and purveyors of misery. Canada is right up there as well.