The gas war, a negative sum game

It has been more than two months since Moscow and Brussels began an economic standoff with Ukraine as the stake. For what balance? Yacht and private jet confiscations, store closures and the specter of a halt to coal imports have not weighed heavily on Vladimir Putin’s cold determination. If the Russian president’s tanks aren’t currently parading in Kyiv, it’s thanks to the bravery and resistance of the Ukrainian army, not sanctions.

From Monday, the European Union will work on a new package of sanctions, with the main perspective being an oil embargo. Germany announced again on Sunday that it was “almost ready”. Caught in the vigorous web that the Putin spider has patiently weaved over the past twenty years, she – and to a lesser extent Italy – is dictating the pace. Isn’t the date when the Russian coal import ban comes into force set for August, more or less the date that Olaf Scholz’s government thinks it can do without?

Also read: Russian gas blackmail works

The return of the oil shocks

On the gas, you’ll have to wait unless there’s a turn, although it’s probably the only lever that can really get the Kremlin in trouble. Wait until 2024, the horizon Berlin has set to free itself from its Russian shackles.

If the last decade was one of cheap energy, then the 2020s will look more like the 1970s and their costly oil shocks to the West. Russia, which has the world’s most important gas reserves, will increasingly turn to Asia to sell its commodities, but it will take a long time to recoup the loss of Europe’s windfall.

Also read: The war has not dried up Russia’s energy exports

One would therefore be tempted to speak of a zero-sum conflict, since it is so obvious that no one will emerge from the gas war unscathed. Only in this calculation we have to subtract Ukraine, which cannot afford the luxury of waiting for the construction of floating gas terminals on the Baltic Sea. Not to mention the environment. Because, despite the undeniable enthusiasm for photovoltaic panels and heat pumps, some coal-fired power plants in Europe will probably need to be restarted to avoid a freezing winter.

Finally read: Ukraine: four scenarios for the third month

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