Coping with the energy crisis is a difficult but feasible task for Europe. According to experts, the search for alternative sources, the diversification of supplies and energy efficiency policies will help Europeans achieve energy independence with less losses.
Russia limits natural gas supplies ahead of the heating season. The Czech Republic presiding over the European Union called for an action plan to overcome the energy crisis.
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“The Czech Republic will convene an urgent meeting of energy ministers to discuss specific emergency measures to resolve the energy situation”, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said on Twitter.
Russia is trying to force the West to weaken support for Ukraine in exchange for energy. In early August, the Russian state energy company “Gazprom” reported that the repaired turbine “Nord Stream” impossible to put into operation allegedly due to sanctions. Now the gas pipeline is operating at 40% of its capacity, preventing the Europeans from building up enough gas supplies for the winter. The Kremlin believes that this will force the EU to make concessions.
“The whole world is suffering from this energy surge. This is caused by Putin's aggression in Ukraine. But I and all of us admit that it is hard for people. And we do our best to help. And huge, huge sums are being spent now, and even more will be spent in the coming months. But we're going to get through it. And in the end, we will come out much stronger. And Putin will be in a weaker position. And his ability to impose this economic blackmail will diminish over time,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
One of the main levers of the Kremlin's influence on the West is energy resources. Due to lobbying and low prices, Russia has become the main supplier of gas for Europe – up to 55% in the previous year alone. After the start of a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the West's harsh sanctions response to the war unleashed by Russia, Moscow is blackmailing the European Union with a sharp reduction in supplies. So, the Kremlin wants to reduce assistance to Kyiv. Instead, the West began to actively look for alternatives to an unreliable supplier and is preparing for the winter.
“There is a problem, and this problem is greatly exacerbated by Russian propaganda. But, in my opinion, all this is much exaggerated. Europe can safely do without Russian gas. An ambitious Repower EU plan was adopted. It provides for the allocation of 300 billion euros to replace Russian gas and includes the diversification of natural gas supplies”, comments Vladimir Omelchenko, director of energy programs at the Razumkov Center.
Germany and France have already filled their gas storage facilities to 80% and 90% respectively. The Kremlin's blackmail has also accelerated the European Union's transition to renewable energy, which is expected to reach 63% by 2030. Compared to the previous forecast, the figure increased by 8%. And in the short term, the exit of “Gazprom” from the European market will lead to big losses for the Kremlin, which annually sold about 200 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe.
“ current heating season, 2022-23. If Europe holds out, if Ukraine holds out, then the resources of the Russian Federation will be so reduced until the next season that it is unlikely that it will ever have the opportunity to use energy carriers as a weapon”, — says Gennady Ryabtsev, an energy market expert.
In early March, the European Commission published a REPowerEU project to immediately and massively reduce Russian gas imports to the EU. Presenting the project, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, made it clear that the European Union is not joking. According to her, Europe must become independent of Russian oil, coal and gas, and cannot rely on a supplier that openly threatens it.