In response to Russia refusing to ship natural gas to countries that refuse to pay in a currency deemed acceptable to Russia, European leaders are threatening to utilize even harsher rhetoric in response.
Russian energy giant Gazprom today halted gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland for failing to pay for its gas in roubles, as Vladimir Putin ordered last month, pushing European gas prices up by 24 percent.
The decision is the Kremlin’s toughest response yet to crippling Western sanctions imposed over Moscow’s brutal on-going invasion of Ukraine, that have sent the Russian economy and the value of the rouble into a nosedive.
In response, the UK warned President Putin that Russia’s move will only add to its status as an economic and political pariah, while Poland and Bulgaria both accused Moscow of blackmailing them, and said they will end their dependencies on Russian gas.
European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also called the move ‘yet another attempt by Russia to use gas as an instrument of blackmail. This is unjustified and unacceptable.’
The European Union could impose a crude oil embargo on Russia, with the two having been locked in a stand-off for weeks after the EU rejected Putin’s demands for payment in roubles from so-called ‘unfriendly’ buyers.
The market reacted quickly to the decision by state-owned Gazprom. Benchmark European gas prices jumped by up to 24 per cent to €121 (£102) per megawatt-hour today, to hit their highest level this month and almost seven times higher than they were a year ago. The UK equivalent increased by 14 per cent to 180 pence per therm.
The two EU countries are the first to have their gas cut off by Europe’s main supplier since the Kremlin launched what it calls a ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine on February 24, and after it threatened to turn off the taps to the West in response to mounting sanctions.
Europe is being taught a hard, but necessary lesson in the difference between hard power and soft power, which is the difference between actual power and empty words. And it is paying a steep price for being the lapdog’s lapdog, which is another word for chew toy.
Russia’s move raised wider concerns that other countries could be targeted next.
COULD BE? Without question WILL BE is the much more certain bet. Many of these countries, including Germany, France, and the UK, are fortunate that they aren’t already being actively bombed for their overt belligerence in supplying Ukraine with military weapons. And their leaders appear to have no idea just how bad the collapse of the neo-liberal world order will be for them, even as the first domino is falling.
Meanwhile, the awful truth is gradually dawning, even on the left wing of the globalist media.
The broader, negative political impact of the war, should it rage on indefinitely, is almost incalculable. The UN’s future as an authoritative global forum, lawmaker and peacekeeper is in jeopardy, as more than 200 former officials warned Guterres last week. At risk, too, is the credibility of the international court of justice, whose injunction to withdraw was scorned by Putin, and the entire system of war crimes prosecutions. In terms of democratic norms and human rights, the full or partial subjugation of Ukraine would spell disaster for the international rules-based order.
Exactly. Amen and hallelujah. This is about as close to a good war as it gets.