Let the people pay: How EU leaders make their citizens suffer the fallout from their failed Russia policy
In a Bastille Day interview, French President Emmanuel Macron told citizens to “prepare ourselves for a scenario where we have to do without Russian gas entirely.” At the same time, Macron accused Moscow of using the fuel as a “weapon of war,” echoing the spin emanating from a European Union leadership that obscures the real reason the bloc is facing an energy shortage that’s driving up the cost of living.
This crisis is entirely self-inflicted.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen accused Russia of energy “blackmail” at the end of April, citing the state-owned Gazprom’s announcement of a halt in gas deliveries to Poland and Bulgaria for failing to pay for in rubles. What von der Leyen – and now Macron – conveniently omitted was that it was the EU’s own anti-Russian sanctions, adopted in a knee-jerk and ideologically-driven fashion at the outset of the Ukraine conflict, that represent the root cause of these disruptions.
The West quickly adopted a strategy of targeting and sanctioning various aspects of the Russian financial system, including banks and foreign reserves, cutting it off from the SWIFT global transaction system – and then had the gall to complain that Moscow was asking for payment for its gas exports in its own currency to mitigate the hassle of navigating a system from which it was effectively blocked. “Export your gas but good luck trying to get paid,” is hardly a reasonable expectation.
It wasn’t Russian President Vladimir Putin who called on the EU to cut off Russian gas. Rather, it was his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky, who has constantly pushed for ever more Western sanctions on Russian fossil fuels. And the West has only been to happy to recklessly indulge him to the detriment of its own citizens.
Earlier this month, Zelensky even admonished Canada for agreeing to return repaired turbines for reintegration into the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline that provides gas to Germany, and demanded that Ottawa reverse its decision. Canada had earlier faced the dilemma of violating the West’s own anti-Russian sanctions by virtue of even returning the critical parts – even though the pipeline is so vital to EU industry that the bloc's leaders have even been freaking out about its scheduled maintenance shutdown.
Why would you be so worried about Russia failing to turn the tap back on when you’ve been saying repeatedly that you’ll gladly do without it “for Ukraine.”
But even in defending the return of the turbines, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cited the same ridiculous Western establishment propaganda of Russia’s “weaponization” of gas, when in reality it’s the West’s own sanctions that have wreaked energy havoc and caused all this drama.
“We have seen Russia consistently trying to weaponize energy as a way of creating division amongst the allies,” Trudeau said. So if Canada doesn’t violate its own sanctions and return the turbines to Germany, then Putin wins. The Olympic level rhetorical gymnastics required by Western leaders to justify violating their own failed sanctions are second only to their recent defense of firing up coal plants again, and redefining fossil fuel energy as “green,” amid the current shortages.
EU leaders are calling for an end to Russian energy imports, citing their decision to sanction their own gas supply as a reason to expedite a transition to unproven renewables. But rather than take responsibility for the fact that they set fire to their sails and are now stranded in the middle of the ocean while awaiting the manifestation of their renewable energy transition fantasy, they’re blaming Russia for their own shortsightedness and trying to spin it as a withholding of energy orchestrated by Moscow.
Russia is only too happy to sell its fuel to whomever wants to buy it. And if the EU sanctions were lifted, the Western energy crisis would end. But that would mean admitting to a failed policy. So, instead, we’re being told that it’s all Putin’s fault, but also that the best way to stick it to Vladimir Putin is to take short, cold showers and to reduce “night lighting,” as Macron has recently suggested.
Western leaders aren’t just taking their citizens for credulous fools with their ridiculous propaganda as cover for their own failures, but they’re treating the livelihood of the average person as collateral economic damage in their hopeless bid to isolate Russia. They've convinced themselves, from their ideologically-isolated elite bubble, that they represent the entire world. But they’re mostly just fooling themselves.
Even the EU’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, admitted to a rude awakening recently at the G20 summit. “The G7 and like-minded countries are united in condemning and sanctioning Russia and in trying to hold the regime accountable,” Borrell said in a statement on the EU’s website. “But other countries, and we can speak here of the majority of the ‘Global South’, often take a different perspective.”
But then Borrell gave away the game. “The global battle of narratives is in full swing and, for now, we are not winning,” he said. “As the EU, we have to engage further to refute Russian lies and war propaganda.” But who’s really peddling the propaganda? On one hand, the EU has been trying to portray the impact of its own irresponsible and devastating sanctions on its own economies and citizens as Putin’s doing even as it tries to convince Westerners that their suffering is some kind of war effort that’s doing harm to Russia.
However, in reality, Russia can pivot to the rest of the entire world and simply leave West Europeans to wallow in their own costly delusions. They may be about to find out whether moral superiority and virtue-signaling will heat the house or feed the kids this winter.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.