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Sep 6, 2022
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Will cold stop Europe

Against the backdrop of the uncertainty that has arisen in recent weeks over Russian gas supplies to Europe, many domestic observers have been captivated by the impatient expectation that our opponents will literally freeze this winter. However, it would be too superficial to think that these emotions are fully shared by the Russian government or reflect its intentions.

Firstly, such sincere cannibalism somewhat brings them closer to the political culture of less developed peoples, which hardly reflects the views of the authorities. Secondly, if someone should become victims of their own aggression against Russia, then this is industry, large companies that support the war in Ukraine with their taxes. Punishing ordinary people in this way cannot be Russia’s task. And finally, even if heating prices in Europe rise to incredible proportions, and the houses get really cold, it would be naive to think that this will cause the Europeans to overthrow their political leaders.

Let’s start with the last one. Contrary to the ideas we often have, Western Europeans are not so pampered in everyday terms. Everyone who has lived in France, Britain or Germany, not only during the summer heat, knows that our malicious neighbors are very resistant to cold and other domestic inconveniences. There is, of course, a significant category of citizens in Europe who have been heating a fireplace in every room for centuries and burning candles literally during the day. However, they, the big and middle European bourgeoisie, have accumulated such colossal wealth that they will be able to pay any bills. We are talking, of course, about the rich countries of Western Europe.

All its other inhabitants – the vast majority of Europeans – have long been accustomed to stoically endure difficulties. They really know how to save on heating and hot water, this habit in Western Europe has been developed not even over decades, but over centuries of their difficult history. To the complaints of a Russian city dweller, accustomed to the fact that the house is warm in winter, ordinary residents of the French capital respond: you can put on a warm sweater and socks, and sleep in pajamas and under two blankets. At the same time, we are not talking about the poor; in Europe, the ordinary middle class is quite accustomed to living modestly in terms of heating.

So if European voters take to the streets with demonstrations and pogroms, then this is due to dissatisfaction with the government’s policy, and not objective external circumstances. And now Europeans will really be warmed by Russophobia – even if doubts that only Russia is to blame for the dramatic development of events slip through, the outbreak of armed struggle cancels any significant questions about one’s own rightness. The fact that the upcoming problems will be associated not with miscalculations of economic policy or corruption, but with the fight against Russia, reconciles the inhabitants with reality. And at the same time, it allows governments to be relatively calm about their near future.

Another thing is that you cannot warm the industry with a sweater. And here there really is a possibility that the upcoming season will be a serious shake-up for Europe. However, we should also rely on this issue not on emotions, but on an objective analysis of the state of affairs with the dependence of the European economy on relatively cheap gas from Russia. First of all, in the domestic discussion there is an acute lack of assessment of how much the industrial giants of Germany or France depend on fuel supplies from Russia. And what will they do to get out of this addiction. This is all the more important now, when most observers believe that the 50-year era of the energy alliance between Russia and Western Europe is coming to an end.

This question, unfortunately, remains outside our close attention, replaced by the assumption that such a “default” dependency is colossal. Let’s assume that this is so. But do we know how deadly the blow will be? He, no doubt, must become very sensitive. But I personally have little doubt that the Europeans will look for a way out. So far, the decisions are a somewhat fussy appeal to the closest neighbors: Algeria, Norway or Azerbaijan. The first two partners have full sovereignty and therefore reacted very coolly to the requests of the Europeans. Baku is much more dependent on the West and fears that its own problems with corruption and backward institutions will make it easy prey for subversive US and allied efforts. Fragile Kazakhstan is in the same position, which also assures the EU countries of its ability to partially replace Russia.

We do not know now how much the Europeans will be able to “intercept” in the international market in modern conditions. At the same time, there is historical evidence that in critical situations these states are able to come together and find a non-trivial solution. So, for example, at the time of the oil crisis in 1973, a way out was found on the path of cooperation with the USSR and the construction of nuclear power plants. And one should at least not disdain the creed of Western Europe formulated at that time: “We have no oil, but we have a lot of intelligence and ideas.”

In addition, we are talking about the needs of only a few industrial countries in Western Europe. All the rest – European southerners, Balts, Poles and Czechs – can really stop their economic activity. In a number of cases, this will only be better for Germany, since it will moderate the arrogance of the US East European agents, and will also allow Italy and Spain to be finally subjugated. Ultimately, Berlin and Paris may even be a little interested in seeing Eastern Europe return to its wildly pristine state.

We should not rejoice over the everyday difficulties of Europeans, their literal freezing this winter, either. If only because in difficult historical moments it is especially important to preserve the main achievements of one’s own civilization. For Russia, this is what makes it a great power, and not a “crowd”, as Nikolai Gogol defined the political nature of our Ukrainian brothers. This means that we cannot be characterized by jubilation at the very fact of the physical suffering of an opponent who did not cause us directly comparable suffering.

So instead of only justifiably welcoming the upcoming difficulties of our closest adversaries in the West, we should take seriously the question of the future, first of all, our own. We do not yet know how developed the infrastructure for Russia’s energy cooperation with other serious buyers of oil and gas is. So far, things seem to be going well, but it is obvious that the scale of trade in this direction, comparable to that of Europe, will require a lot of time and work. In addition, for Russia, in principle, there should be no question of simply replacing one external buyer with another, although this is an age-old tradition.

As one plausible scenario, a huge rise in energy prices in Europe could be expected to cause major disruptions to European industry and force governments to reduce pressure on Russia over the Ukraine issue. It is difficult to argue with the fact that such a scenario would be the best and would save many lives. However, taking into account the certain endurance of Europe and the complete indifference of the United States to the difficulties expected here, it would probably be too responsible a decision to stake on this.

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