Though it was entirely predictable and indeed had been expected for some time, the news over the weekend that the Nord Stream 1 pipeline which feeds gas from Russia to northern Europe via The Baltic route had been shut down completely by The Kremlin in retaliation for the continued financial and military support given by NATO and EU member states to Ukraine in the conflict with Russia. The European Commission, governing body of the EU, immediately put the community on something close to a war footing, imoing war economy style regulations. Russia then made clear its position, that unless sanctions are dropped, no gas will *ever* flow through Nord Stream 1 again. The potential economic damage began immediately as the EURO ( € ) dipped below US$0.99 for the first time in 20 years.
Nord Stream pipeline pumping station (Picture: insurancejournal )
Russia’s move is so blatant as to amount to an official declaration of war. There is no way European propaganda can spin this as a temporary situation due to ‘technical issues’ with the pipeline. This is a case of Putin and Russia's allies holding a gun to NATO and the EU’s head, such is the extent of European dependence on Russian natural gas. So was OPEC+ agreeing on a token 100,000 barrel a day cut to production. So was Iran saying no to the nuclear deal unless the IAEA backs off from investigating the serious breaches of the last nuclear deal it didn’t stick to.
Assuming Europe cannot retreat from its current total committment to prolonging the war in Ukraine by continuing to provide the neo - Nazi nutters in Kiev with money and military hardware, that means a severe recession with very high inflation, and if anything were to happen to gas flows via Ukraine, which could easily occur as Russia has not yet deployed its air power in this conflict, Europe would need to make swingeing cuts to energy consumption in order to avoid unplanned ‘gas outs’ and electricity rationing.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck
said: “Expect the worst.” As mentioned yesterday,
existential choices now need to be made, because due to political virtue signalling 'net zero' pledges made by NATO and EU governments, and foolhardly transitioning to unreliable and intermittent 'sustainable' energy sources there may not enough
energy to go round. It is time for politicians to stop sucking up to the unwashed crustries of the green lobby and prioritise the needs of the people.
First, Germany is to delay mothballing some nuclear reactors – so common sense at gunpoint.
It is unlikely Europe and the UK will not ration energy because it means the
staggering bills already being seen will continue to rise, and then stagflation, incession, or
‘inpression’ (an inflationary depression). They may instead
subsidize businesses and households even if that means wholesale energy
prices march even higher. Whether any will have the testicular fortitude to admit the folly of the past two decades and recommission coal and gas fired generators really depends on the extent of the public backlash.
Germany’s latest EUR65bn energy bailout is already providing such a subsidy but the trouble with such stop - gap policies is they only kick the can down the road; so will Sweden’s and the Netherlands’ measures, and France’s and Spain’s: and Brussels is talking about an EU-wide energy price cap. Only part of these subsidies will flow from windfall taxes on the energy companies which are raking in vast profits from the current shortages. Taxes also remove the industry capital needed to invest in new energy supply. New UK PM Liz (Chuckie)Truss, just selected with an underwhelming 57% mandate of a tiny Tory electorate, has also floated Covid-furlough sized spending to cap business and household energy bills; and huge tax cuts; and a 2.5% trend GDP growth rate target. Good luck with the latter.
or printing money to pay for imported energy (in dollars), while
running rising twin deficits is a great way to destroy one’s currency –
which means higher inflation, and not transitory currency weakness but permanent inflation and the destruction of people's savings and pensions.
So we see that while mainstream media in Europe and North America continues to push the 'Ukraine is winning' narrative to justify the huge cost to western nations of supplying Ukraine with high tech weapons and ammunition, an objective analysis of the real war reveals that as long as Russia can continue to provide the distraction on the ground in Ukraine to deflect the attention of citizens of Ukraine's allies, economically Putin and his allies are destroying the west and further shifting the balance of geopolitical power to the east.