Why hasn’t Putin cut off gas and oil to Europe?
by Tom Evslin
According to this story in the WSJ, Germany will continue to buy gas and oil from Russia.
“Germany and Europe are too dependent on Russian energy imports for power, heating and industrial production to be able to cut trade links with Moscow in the short term, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a statement.
“‘Europe’s supply of energy for heating, for mobility, for electricity generation and for the industry can’t be secured otherwise at the moment,’ Mr. Scholz said. Russian energy, he added, was essential for the daily lives of citizens.”
Scholz is not exaggerating Europe’s vulnerability. Why, then, hasn’t Putin responded by cutting off oil and gas to Europe or threatening to do so if NATO keeps arming Ukraine? He doesn’t hesitate to slaughter civilians or threaten nuclear war.
The only answer I can think of is that Russia can’t afford to lose the income from these sales. Russia is at least as dependent on this trade as Europe. If this is true, immediately cutting Russian oil and gas sales way back may be an effective way to get Russia out of Ukraine.
Europe has no choice but to make emergency plans for doing without Russian fuel unless it intends to surrender if Putin cuts them off. But Europe needs massive help to turn the oil weapon against Putin. Helping them is our job here in the US. We need to share their pain by sharing – and increasing – our massive domestic supplies of oil, gas, and even coal. We must find a way not to be profiteers as the world price of fuels soars but instead to be the responsible suppliers of last resort.
With our tentative new-found unity and what we’ve learned of courage from the Ukrainians, we can do this. Ending European dependence on Russian fuels within months will be painful and difficult, but not nearly as painful and difficult as the defense of Kyiv. The Russian bear that hasn’t bitten yet tells us that Putin may have to fold once it is clear he isn’t getting this revenue to prop up his kleptocracy.
The author, an author, entrepreneur, former Vermont state cabinet officer, lives in Stowe. He founded NG Advantage, a natural gas truck delivery company. This commentary is republished with permission from his blog, Fractals of Change.