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Cold War, literally

Perhaps he just longs for a return to the good old days when Europe trembled in fear of the Soviet Union. Russia's version of Dick Cheney - the power behind President Medvedev - Vladimir Putin has ordered that Europe's supply of natural gas be drastically cut.

Europe has been plunged into an energy crisis after Vladimir Putin ordered Russia's state-run gas company to cut supplies by 20 per cent.

As temperatures dropped below zero across much of Europe, the Russian prime minister instructed the head of Gazprom: "Cut it - starting today."

The cut was ordered to punish neighbouring Ukraine, which Russia accuses of topping up its own gas supply by siphoning off energy meant for European consumers and sent through its pipelines.

You can't blame the former Soviets at Russia's helm for throwing their weight around, ever since the USSR collapsed Europe has treated the former Soviet republics like something stuck on their shoes. How do you think the Kremlin must feel seeing poll after poll stating Europeans believe the US and Israel are the greatest threats to peace? Russia still possesses the world's second largest nuclear arsenal. How about a little respect?
EU foreign ministers, meeting in Prague on Thursday, will then assess levels of gas supply disruption and discuss possible action to prevent energy shortages amid sub-zero temperatures in most European capitals.

EU countries are dependent for one quarter of their gas supplies on Russia, of which 80 per cent comes via pipelines that cross the Ukraine.

Some, such as Poland, depend on Gazprom for over three quarters of their gas supply. Britain receives up to 15 per cent of its supply from Russian sources, mainly channelled through French pipelines.

The Czech Republic, Poland, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Croatia and Hungary have already reported problems with their supply.

Collective punishment has long been a favorite method of creating external pressure to disrupt unwanted behavior. Ukraine has been getting a little uppity with Moscow of late. Now they'll be squeezed from both sides by the Kremlin and the EU. Quite a brilliant ploy by Putin.
The Commission has insisted that "there is no immediate danger of disruption for European citizens". But officials are worried that the latest wave of freezing weather, in one of the coldest winters for years, will push the EU into a full blown energy crisis by fuelling demand for Russian gas as people seek to heat their homes across Europe.

"The situation is changing. We are seeing a cold week ahead," said the Commission spokesman."Cold weather has an immediate effect on demand."

One of the big disadvantages of relying upon a foreign energy supplier is the relative ease with which they can manipulate supply. Smartly, Russia is timing gas reductions for maximum effect. Cutting gas supplies in the middle of summer wouldn't create the same urgency for action by the EU.

This should also serve as a cautionary tale to the US. We need to maximize our use of domestic energy resources and reject policies that restrict our ability to lead the world in affordable energy production.

While the world has focused its ire like a laser on the Bush administration (and the Joooos!) the Kremlin has been free to act with impunity. After fifty years of Cold War there isn't much will in Europe to stand up to Russia. The former Soviet bloc being a notable exception. No one knows Russia better than its former satellite nations, and they understand the bullies in Moscow are only encouraged by weakness. Will the EU be willing to stand with Ukraine and the rest of Eastern Europe if Putin continues his aggression?

Time will tell, but most likely they'll just defer to the US to slow Russia's westward march. Again.


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Comments (3)

Putin plays RealPolitik. (... (Below threshold)
RickZ:

Putin plays RealPolitik. (I still can't get over Bush's crap about looking into Putin's soul.) Barry's gonna find out right quick that being a smooth talker ain't gonna cut it with Putin. Kennedy found that out with Krushchev right after being elected. Kennedy got run over big time. How could he not? While Kennedy was unarguably a decorated WWII veteran with leadership experience, in his talks he faced off against a man who outlived WWII, Stalin AND Beria, no mean feat for a Russian. It was 16 months later, not immediately as Barry the historically illiterate candidate said on the campaign trail, that Kennedy faced the Missiles of October. The crisis was a direct result of Krushchev measuring up Kennedy in those talks early in his administration and finding him wanting. Whatever you may think of the Bay of Pigs fiasco, Kennedy's blockade of Cuba was the right move, and a tough call. Then their was the waiting over who would blink first (thank god Pelosi wasn't president, or we'd have surrendered a thousand times over). Obama will face the same situation now with Putin, and a more aggressive Russia. How will Obama view the now independent former soviet republics? Are they, as nascent democracies, worth preserving, worth fighting Russia for? We already saw how Obama/Biden were clueless with the whole Georgia invasion. Now the Ukraine seems to be in play.

Unfortunately for those former Soviet Republics, Barry seems a tad preoccupied with getting a stimilus package rushed through. His pick for the CIA, Panetta, has no intelligence experience whatsoever. How will Barry have the necessary intelligence background to handle any talks or, worse, a crisis or crises over Eastern Europe? Putin The Wolf sees in Barry the Sheep a real opportunity. How could a former KGB man not? Will Barry properly view states like the Ukraine, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and the Baltic States as allies? Or will they go under his bus, too? Between the jihadi war and Putin, the economy at home may not be quite so important as he thinks. And China is still the wild card, what with our economic and financial ties with China more abundant than ever. If Obama continues to use retreads from the Clinton/Carter years, things don't look good as we know how bad foreign policy was under Carter and Clinton. And if Barry does a Carter/Clinton, and cuts military spending to pursue his economic stimulus, that only weakens us in any talks with that newly aggressive Russia with its lethal nuclear arsenal. Barry has some tough decisions to make with getting a Cabinet together (and he isn't doing a good job of that right now, as even Clinton would be a cartoon as SoS).

We all know presidents rapidly age in the White House. I predict Barry will be grey in six months, and hunched over after a year. He is going to find out that acting and looking like a president is a far cry from being one. Soon, every decision will be in his pay grade. And based upon what I see, Barry's Peter Principled himself. Which means somewhere in Russia, Putin, all warm and toasty, is salivating at the thought.

More from PUTRID PUTIN the ... (Below threshold)
SPURWING PLOVER:

More from PUTRID PUTIN the greens are cuasing untold suffering over this global warming poppycock and the euroweenie union

IMHO, Europe deserves the t... (Below threshold)
Wanderlust:

IMHO, Europe deserves the thrashing it is now getting from Russia. After all, the EU made a Devil's bargain by refusing to increase its own energy supplies & production to kowtow to the First Church of Climate Change.

We should be gently reminding our European friends that Russia is helping them reduce their CO2 emissions at a critical time. They should be thanking Russia for reducing gas supplies rather than complaining about it.

And if a few people there die because of this mess? Well, didn't the Global Warming crowd remind us several times over that reducing population was one of the ways we could help reduce our carbon footprint?

/deliciously schadenfreudeian snarking




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