Russia: EU must survive Putin’s energy war to avoid invasion

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A former US energy security advisor has warned the European Union must try to weather Vladimir Putin’s gas blackmail to avoid a potential invasion of the bloc. If the EU fails to act now, Dr Benjamin Schmitt says, the bloc could face further Russian aggression. Dr Benjamin warned on Express.co.uk that if the EU’s public approval on Ukraine falls and the bloc leaves Ukraine fall to Russia’s hands, “then it would make it more probable that Russia may extend the aggression beyond Moldova or even the EU.”

Dr Schmitt said: “So, this idea that Russia can weaponise its energy to try to bring about that eventuality is really, really concerning.

“And it is something that we have been warning about for decades but in particular since 2014 since Russia’s initial annexation of Crimea and the Ukrainian Donbas that the EU collectively needs to reduce or end its dependency on Russian energy so that that kind of scenario can’t come about.

“Certainly, global democracies don’t want to succumb to this notion of Ukraine fatigue.

“This idea that because Russia is putting economic pressure on global democracies – in particular, the EU – that the electorates of these countries will say: well, I don’t really want to sacrifice anymore for Ukraine.”

Dr Schmitt said: “And that’s not what we’re seeing. We’re seeing the broad majority of polls of European Union member states in terms of their population, saying that we are going to continue to support Ukraine because we understand what this means not only for our democratic future collectively but also for the national security of Europe in the short term.”

Despite strong support for helping Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s invasion, the next few months could be more challenging for EU leaders trying to keep that momentum.

Vladimir Putin’s energy blackmails on the EU have sent energy prices soaring throughout the bloc, as the continent scrambles to diversify away from Russian gas imports.

Putin is again deploying the energy threat with a three-day suspension of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline – a crucial provider of gas for Europe. Fears are growing over the EU’s capacity to sustain the energy war and to defend Ukraine in the long term.

To cushion the blow of repeated blackmails, the bloc has turned to new energy providers like the United States and Qatar for liquefied natural gas (LNG).

However, the upcoming closure of Nord Stream 1 – if permanent – could ruin the EU’s chances of going through winter with enough gas supplies.

A full shutdown of Nord Stream 1 could deplete the EU’s gas inventories by early January 2023, energy security expert Valery Chow warned, as the bloc still largely depends on Russia for gas.

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The EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell announced the EU now only depends on Russia gas by 20 percent – down from 40 percent before the war.

And Europeans’ unflappable solidarity for Ukraine could fray over the cost of economic sanctions and the threat of nuclear escalation, a report by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) shows, with the “Peace” camp wanting the war to end as soon as possible and the “Justice” camp believing the most pressing goal is to punish Russia.

According to data from Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE) released on August 25, European gas storage levels were 78.67 percent full – on track to hit its 80 percent target.

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