Putin would be nothing if it were not for gas
The world knows that Russia is a one-asset economy – gas. That is it. Without gas, Putin’s Mother Russia would be a third-world country with a starving population – the kind of nation we see in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Oh yea, the Madman of Moscow has nuclear weapons, but could not afford an army and the weapons without the income from gas. He would like to add a second asset – the grain fields of Ukraine. That is looking problematic at the moment. Hopefully, we will not allow a defeat in Ukraine to pile on our problems after Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and, of course, Afghanistan.
Even as the Green Movement across the world is worrying about the carbon footprints of my 2009 Chevy Impala, Putin is waging a war that is an environmental disaster of the first magnitude. As a sideshow, he is threatening to create a nuclear disaster in Ukraine. But his main thrust is to use gas production as his current weapon of choice.
Whatever you may think of President Trump, you must admit that he had it right when he scolded the European Union – especially Germany – for shifting their gas and oil purchases to Russia. Former German Prime Minister Angela Merkel had already completed one pipeline from Russia and was in the process of building a second when Putin launched the first European war since 1945 – and he is hoping for the same result. The occupying Easter Europe.
The weaponizing of energy is the standard operating procedure for Russia. In the days of the Soviet Union, Moscow controlled the energy flowing into the homes of Eastern Europe.
During my Winter visit to Lithuania shortly after that nation declared independence, the Russian troops were still bivouacked in the woods outside of Vilnius – and the central heating was still in the control of Moscow. Consequently, the interior of homes and office were generally between 40- and 50-degrees Fahrenheit – including the office of the new President.
Thanks to another of Trump’s policies, he left the United States as a net exporter of gas – and offered American gas as an alternative to the Russian products. President Biden has turned America back to a net importer as part of his Green New Deal – but we still produce enough to dodge the fate of Europe, where gas-driven inflation is hitting hard.
While Biden likes to blame the American inflation on Putin, that is political bull poop. We are not nearly as dependent on Russian oil. The American inflation is largely due to Washington pouring too much money into the economy – and the Federal Reserve Bank responding too slowly.
It is entirely possible that Putin could turn off the gas spigot to Europe this Winter. That would put Europe into an unimaginable humanitarian crisis. And there should be no doubt that Putin would do that if he could. But the backlash would be a monumental loss of revenues for Mother Russia.
Putin is already having serious problems financing his dirty little war, the loss of gas income would end the invasion. there would be no money to execute the war. It would also create an economic crisis for the Russian people – as bad or worse than anything they have seen since the days of Joseph Stalin.
The outcome of the Ukraine war is still uncertain – and as every western leader has said, “Putin cannot be allowed to take over Ukraine.” They need to act like they mean it.
Putin may still win the battle, but it will be a Pyrrhic Victory. He is doomed. His oil and gas income is decreasing – and will continue to do so. The United States has cut purchases of Russian gas. While it is a slow process, Europe is starting to build infrastructure to buy gas from non-Russian sources. The major international gas providers are being encouraged to increase production to compensate for cutbacks in Russian oil. Now, they are not moving in that direction, but it is not in the Arab world’s interest in propping up Russian oil prices in the long run.
Russian gas-related income poses an existential threat to the security of the United States. The fact that Putin would dare to launch a war … threatened to use nuclear weapons (ending the “mutual assured destruction” concept that has prevented a nuclear holocaust for more than 70 years) … and is using gas as a weapon … indicates a decline in respect for – or fear of – America. We have already seen how the perception of a weaker America has emboldened every adversary – China, North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, etc.
Nothing the United States has done in recent years has chilled Putin’s maniacal ambitions. America’s future depends on winning the war in Ukraine — and that means disrupting Putin’s cash-for-gas economy.
So, there ‘tis.