VDL Russia strategy backfires as EU energy plan financing Putin war with much more money

Russia 'making more money' from their gas supplies says Erlanger

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European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen’s energy plan – meant to counter dwindling Russian gas deliveries – falls short of the EU’s aim of reducing Vladimir Putin’s war chest, the New York Times’ Europe Chief Diplomatic Correspondent Steven Erlanger says. As Russian-state gas giant Gazprom has steadily dropped gas flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, the EU has reached an agreement to reduce its gas consumption by 15 percent for the upcoming winter. But as Russian gas exports have dipped to a 20 percent record low via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, gas prices have risen, meaning Europeans will pay more expensive gas for fewer quantities.

Mr Erlanger told Times Radio: “The European Union has tried to pull together a plan to reduce gas use, gas consumption because it’s been in general 40 percent dependent on Russia for gas. 

“The biggest country involved, as you known is Germany. But Germany’s managed to cut its dependency already from 55 percent to about 30 percent.

“But the big game everywhere is filling up the tanks preparing for winter.

“And Russia is being very clever about this because it’s reducing its gas supplies. But with gas prices so high, it’s making much more money from even that reduction.

“So, the financing of the war goes on just fine.”

“But Russia’s pushing on Europe, hoping it can divide people from their government, get people very angry and undermine the sense of solidarity about Ukraine.

“That seems to be the game. As you say, it’s pretty obvious but that seems. But it’s happening despite its best efforts.”

However, Mr Erlanger pointed out that this strategy cannot work indefinitely, as EU countries are finding alternative supplies and Russia will eventually lose one of its most important clients – and the bulk of its revenue from gas and energy.

“Also, people are moving, as we all know, too much more sustainable energy that’s permanent, more wind farms, etc.” Mr Erlanger said.

To make up for that potential loss, Mr Erlanger added, Russia is turning towards other potential clients such as China and India. 

“But for the moment, it works Russia’s way pretty well. But in the long run, it will put Russia in deep trouble.

“It will have to shift markets. And that’s not so easy, as I say, with gas because you need pipelines.”

The possibility for the EU to trigger a compulsory 15 percent cap on gas consumption has been a point of discord among some European countries. 

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Spain and Portugal, which have little connection to the EU’s gas pipeline network, have expressed reservations about imposing mandatory gas reductions.

Greece also said the plan would be too much of a burden on its economy and citizens.

Hungary, which still imports 80 percent of its gas from Russia, questioned “the legal basis” of a proposal that “decides how much member states can consume from which supplier.”

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