When Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine, he gambled that it would be won quickly and that the west would acquiesce in a fait accompli. He underestimated Ukrainian resilience and European readiness to punish Kremlin aggression with sanctions. That forced Mr Putin into a longer game. Now he is betting that European reliance on Russian gas exports will corrode western solidarity, leading to a degrading of sanctions and restored tolerance of Moscow’s territorial aggressions.
To hasten that scenario, Russia has cut the flow of gas through the main east-west pipeline. The Kremlin’s message of strategic extortion is not subtle: go softer on the war and have a cosier winter; stay tough and freeze. European solidarity is just about holding. Earlier this week EU members agreed a deal to cut gas usage by 15% as part of a phased move away from reliance on Russian supplies. But the deal is diluted by opt-outs and exceptions for various countries. Hungary, the EU state that is cosiest with the Kremlin, has not signed up at all.
The Guardian view on Russian gas: a compelling reason to go green | Editorial | The GuardianThe Guardian view on Russian gas: a compelling reason to go green | Editorial | The Guardian