Putin likes to use gas as a weapon against the West but also needs our money | World | New

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Although the short-term use of Russian gas is “relatively risk-free”, however, the UK and Europe cannot afford to trust Vladimir Putin on long-term plans.

This follows a stern warning from Defense Secretary Ben Wallace that the Russian prime minister is using his energy supplies as a weapon against Western interests.

“We see some countries using energy, migration, cybercrime and organized crime as weapons,” he said.

And last night, the Russian PM retaliated by shooting Boris Johnson’s arcs, calling the threats “statements aimed at outright populism” and asking the PM if he expected Russian gas to be “free. “.

Gas prices have increased eightfold since January for a myriad of global factors of which economies emerging from the Covid pandemic are just one example.

Nigeria and Norway, the main suppliers of liquid natural gas, exported less, while Brazil and Asia imported more natural gas and LNG than expected, depleting already low stocks.

Russia, which supplies 40% of Europe’s gas – mostly natural – is accused of deliberately keeping prices high by slowing exports.

Although Britain depends on Russia for only three percent of its natural gas imports, it is nonetheless affected by the spillover effect of rising world prices. Half of the UK’s energy needs are local, but the slowdown in wind turbines due to the lowest wind speeds in 60 years has put more emphasis on gas imports.

While experts agreed last night that Russia’s harsh winter has forced its state-owned Gazprom to prioritize domestic demand, they noted that Putin’s clear exploitation of the crisis bolsters his reputation as a unreliable partner.

This was confirmed by Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who angrily berated the UK’s position yesterday.

“Russia is not restricting anything,” he said.

“If the Europeans, including Britain, sign a contract for more gas, they will get more gas.

“Or does Britain want Russia to ship unlimited amounts of this gas for free?” “

Still subject to sanctions for its invasion of Crimea, the cash-strapped Russia wants two things: long-term gas contracts with Europe and the commissioning of the controversial NordStream2 pipeline with Germany.

“There is a widespread hope in Europe that we will exit the gas sector to free ourselves from dependence on Russian gas. Even if that won’t happen anytime soon, that’s why Europe won’t be signing long-term contracts, ”said energy expert Nikos Tsafos from the US-based Center for Strategy and International Security. United.

“And, although many warn of the security threat of allowing NordStream2, what this crisis shows is that Russia has market power with or without it.”
The real risk of authorizing NS2 is not for the EU, which will use it gradually less and less, but for Ukraine, through which Russian pipelines currently pass, providing Kiev with substantial income.

Russia is already citing the poor condition of 40-year-old pipelines as an excuse for pumping less gas through them.

And Russia’s mixed messages – that it needs its gas stockpile domestically and that transforming NS2 would deliver more gas to Europe – doesn’t help it, Tsafos said.

“When Fukushima happened, Qatar, a large LNG producer, went to Japan and asked, ‘What did you need? How can we help? ‘ This is how a trusted partner behaves.

“But over the past few days we’ve seen Putin arrogantly using his position to mock the West, blaming it for not committing to long-term contracts that it doesn’t want.

“This is not the language of someone doing all they can to bring down the prices. They are making the most of it. They are taking advantage of it, in a way that really undermines trust as a business partner. . “

While Russia’s supplies have been low, it has honored all of its contracts – it cannot afford not to, said Professor Mark Galeotti of the Council on Geostrategy.

“Russia is now reaping the rewards of seven years of bad faith, with poisonings in Salisbury, an invasion of Ukraine and disinformation campaigns,” he said.

“But when Russia threatened to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine in 2005 – and that would not have meant affecting downstream supplies to the rest of Europe as well – its economy was in a very different situation than it did. that it is today.

“Putin simply cannot afford to cut supplies anymore. It needs Western income as much as the West needs its gas.

“We have to be as ruthlessly pragmatic as possible. “

Dr Jade McGlynn of the Henry Jackson Society added: “Russia needs the money and wants to appear as a reliable supplier to Western Europe. It is an opportunity and they will try to use it to increase their position. They therefore have more to gain from proving their reliability.

“Britain is always pragmatic and we do business with unsavory regimes. In the short term, the use of Russian gas is a relatively low risk proposition.

“But that doesn’t translate into allowing Russia to have long-term gas contracts of five to ten years.

“What we have seen of the crimes that Russia has been willing to commit – even on the streets of the UK – is that Russia is not a partner we should be engaging with any more than it is. is necessary.

“Anything that means increasing our dependence on the Russian government, which gives them real power, is bad for British and European interests. “


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