How this mysterious factory fire helped fuel Putin’s new cold war | World | New

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Gas prices: Putin “will continue to tighten” according to an expert

It has not (until now) carried out a new territorial conquest in the Ukrainian mining and industrial region of Donbass, remarkable for its large coal reserves. But for a while, the West – and Kiev – was worryingly uncertain about its intentions. Now Putin has a new game. Some would characterize it as arming the gas supply and threatening a literal cold war this winter as he rationed energy in his winding pipelines, potentially leaving homes in Grande. -Brittany and the rest of Europe tremble.

Gas prices are skyrocketing and Western politicians are already feeling the wrong kind of heat as small suppliers collapse.

To many in the West, this looks like nothing less than a Russian Hybrid War akin to its brutal ally in Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, who has actively flooded Europe with illegal immigrants from Iraq and elsewhere in revenge. Sanctions.

But the gas conflict had a curious origin deep in Siberia at the beginning of August.

A mysterious fire at a processing plant near the town of Novy Urengoy led to the immediate halving to one million cubic meters per day of gas exports to the West via Belarus and Poland and a sharp rise in prices of the market.

Several media outlets in Russia at the time noted how “good for Gazprom” the unexplained fire was, suiting its purposes.

This would allow the energy giant to “further inflate fuel prices in Europe”. How convenient.

Putin and his security chiefs appear to be taking advantage of Germany’s power transition, the end of the pandemic, and a period of low wind power and meager gas stocks across Europe, to grab hold of it. a geopolitical victory.

Putin who is seen with the heads of Gazprom (Image: Getty)

That’s without using any of the advanced hypersonic weapons his forces have been testing all summer.

He could suddenly turn on the gas taps, notably via an established pipe crossing Ukraine.

But as he languishes in isolation – likely in his favorite retreat in Sochi by the Black Sea – when Covid-19 is said to have suddenly rioted in those around the Kremlin, posing a threat, the man fort, who turns 69 next month, is unhurried.

He envisions the rapid opening of the delayed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which goes nowhere near Ukraine – compromising and punishing a country that has so far chosen to align with the West.

It will also allow it to supply the German giant directly with a line under the Baltic Sea.

Putin will use this to boost future exports at higher prices in exchange for stability.

In the meantime, this will drive a wedge between NATO allies who are nervous about Germany dealing directly with the Kremlin and making Europe increasingly dependent on Russian energy – a deep concern. in Washington.

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Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, gas supplier to Europe (Image: Reuters)

This, in turn, will be used as a stick to demand less Western “interference” in a modern Russia where political opposition to Putin has been emasculated.

And, as we saw in the legislative elections this week from a succession of videos of polling stations, rigging is in order.

As his spokesperson Dmitry Peskov made clear, there is a way out of the gas deadlock. He explained: “Without a doubt, the fastest possible commissioning of Nord Stream 2 will significantly balance the price parameters of natural gas in Europe.

In other words, follow Putin’s playbook and everything will be back to normal. The gas flames will flash again.

British and European politicians will have to decide how far they will go, especially in the face of public concerns over shortages and rising prices, to succumb to the Kremlin.

This is when alternative energy sources may not be ready for some time and urgently need to keep people warm and jumpstart their savings after Covid.

Republican US Senator John Barrasso warned this week: “We know that Russia uses energy to coerce, to manipulate. They use it as a geopolitical weapon. They coerce and manipulate our allies and partners in Europe.

Putin

Putin aboard the ship to work on the Turkish Stream gas pipeline (Image: Reuters)

“Many of our NATO allies, Germany in particular, are becoming addicted and addicted to Russian gas.”

Mr Barrasso said that Nord Stream 2 “makes Europe more energy dependent on Russia and of course more subject to Russian influence”.

He adds: “At the same time, it will further fuel Russian aggression, Russian intimidation and Russian instability across Europe.

For him, Nord Stream 2 “would mean a transfer of massive money from our NATO allies directly into the Kremlin coffers” and its “destabilizing activities”.

There is another side to the conflict, however. The breakdown in East-West relations, which shows no signs of slowing down and now mired in sanctions and increasingly sordid rhetoric on both sides, has ended the prospect of finding mutually beneficial solutions, both parties resorting to sanctions and barriers.

But has the pendulum gone too far? The gas crisis could serve as a spark to find a stubborn solution that both secures medium-term supplies until new energies are available and gives Russia a fair price, especially if the West acts on it. unison to buy wholesale.

There is a feeling that neither side wins from a long-term stalemate.

A political cold war between Russia and the West seems inevitable as long as Putin stays in the Kremlin – but that doesn’t necessarily mean people will tremble this winter.


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