EU no longer fears Russian gas shutdown

Not long after Russian forces invaded Ukraine, another mobilization began. European energy ministers and diplomats started jetting across the world and inking energy deals — racing to prepare for a rough winter should Russia choose to cut off its cheap gas in retaliation for Western sanctions.

Since then, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has fiddled with the gas tap to Europe repeatedly. Through Gazprom, the Kremlin-controlled gas monopoly, Russia has vastly reduced supplies or suspended them for days at a time — until last week, when it announced that it would indefinitely halt flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline that supplies Germany, and through it, much of Europe.

Yet when the blow finally came, it provoked more ridicule than outrage among European leaders, who say that by now they would expect nothing less from Mr. Putin and that they have accepted that the era of cheap Russian gas is over, unimaginable as that might have seemed just months ago.

In some corners, even as Europe’s leaders scramble to blunt the blow from lower gas supplies and higher prices, there is a growing sense that perhaps Russia’s weaponizing of gas exports is a strategy of diminishing returns — and that Mr. Putin may have overplayed his hand.…



Speaking as someone who lives in Europe I think that the NYTimes is a bit too optimistic about the effects of the gas shutdown. I’m in the UK and we should be OK but I’m not too sure about mainland Europe.

Even if enough energy is found it will be extremely expensive and the IMF has predicted quite a severe economic shock:

However, a longer full shut-off of Russian gas to the whole of Europe would likely interact with infrastructure bottlenecks to produce very high prices and significant shortages in some countries, with parts of Central and Eastern Europe most vulnerable. With natural gas an important input in production, the capacity of the economy would shrink. Our findings suggest that in the short term, the most vulnerable countries in Central and Eastern Europe — Hungary, Slovak Republic and Czechia — face a risk of shortages of as much as 40 percent of gas consumption and of gross domestic product shrinking by up to 6 percent. The effects on Austria, Germany and Italy would also be significant, but would depend on the exact nature of remaining bottlenecks at the time of the shutoff and consequently the ability of the market to adjust.…

Putin may well have shot himself in the foot but the pain is going to be felt elsewhere!

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