Russia has made EU threats look full of hot air
When British planes delivering weapons to Ukraine were forced to take a detour around the airspace of one of the European Union’s most powerful members last week, many jumped on it as a signal about Germany’s intent to separate itself from a conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
This was not clear cut – and Germany denied preventing supplies travelling through its airspace – but it does indicate the fervour of the fears about the bloc’s inaction in the face of Russian aggression.
While Washington and NATO have been engaged in extensive talks with Russia in a desperate attempt to make a breakthrough, leaders in Brussels have instead been scrambling to shore up gas supplies and fend off fears of an energy crunch that could destabilise the entire continent.
Kadri Simson, the EU’s energy commissioner, and other national energy ministers have been locked in brainstorming sessions.
She is now set to attend talks next month in Azerbaijan and the US in an attempt to strike potential
The US already rescued the bloc over Christmas with a flotilla of tankers topping up flagging stocks, which have since dropped to 43 per cent of available capacity. The US has even instigated talks with Qatar and other large gas exporters, on the EU’s behalf.
As the EU’s supplies shorten, so does its ability to present a united front in the face of the Kremlin’s aggression.
The EU relies on Russia for 40 per cent of its natural gas supplies, and despite its projected transition to green energy the fuel source remains crucial to powering its economies.
Flows from Russia have dwindled over winter after the Kremlin-backed gas giant Gazprom cut its export growth to five per cent. Instead the key Yamal-Europe pipeline, which accounts for a sixth of Europe’s gas supplies, was directing its supplies back to Russia.
German chancellor Olaf Scholz has said the country will consider rejecting the Nord Stream 2 pipeline if Russia attacks Ukraine.
The EU need the pipeline so desperately, their path forward with Russia is perilous. If certified, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline will double Russia’s exports to Germany and alleviate escalating pressure across the continent with 55 billion cubic metres per year of natural gas.
To the Kremlin, the threat of action rings hollow.