The war in Ukraine will have demonstrated the impotence of the United Nations if a permanent member of the Security Council with full veto power becomes a rogue state without consequence. For the havoc it created, Russia must now be evicted from the UN.
Russia’s targets are not limited to nuclear. A September 12ttack on Ukraine’s second largest thermal powerplant left thousands in major metropolitan areas without power. The attack was a response to Ukrainian counteroffensives, where the Ukrainian military retook over 6,000 sq km of the Russian-occupied territory in the Balakleya, Izyum and Kupiansk regions, and seized the initiative. While this latest Russian attack was a spiteful response to battlefield reversals, the destruction of energy infrastructure has been an ever-present tactic throughout the invasion. Forcibly denying access to energy sources is not only designed to undermine Ukrainian morale and logistics, but also to threaten and undermine European unity.
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There can now be no negotiated reopening or resumption of deliveries even if the battlefields of Ukraine instantly fall silent. The Russians have achieved their immediate goal, with Reuters reporting “Nord Stream AG said it was impossible to estimate when the gas network system’s working capability would be restored.” This winter, Europe is doomed to face the worst energy crisis since the Arab oil embargo of 1974, or worse.
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Despite Francis Fukuyama's infamous opinion, history certainly did not end. The imperial collapse was an unintended consequence of Gorbachev's desire to humanize socialism and save the USSR. He utterly failed in both tasks, but Russia and other Soviet republics were liberated from the Communist nightmare, and the world gained 30 years of relative peace, which is now coming to an end.
Germany could be a European and global leader if it embraces this renaissance and overcomes its petty inter-party squabbles. Or it can just keep importing coal… and Russian gas.
Rivers are Europe’s economic and transportation backbone, and their drying will drive up energy and commodity prices.
From many conversations held with Russian policymakers, we know that the vision which denies Ukraine peoplehood, and the Kremlin's resulting aggressions, are nothing new. This war's atrocities flow from the dark misapprehensions held by many Moscow elites concerning Russia's destiny, history and geopolitics.
Even before battlefields are silent, the battle for billions in Ukrainian reconstruction budgets has already begun. Top U.S. policy makers, including Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen championed the initial assistance package to Ukraine, which passed (86-11) in the Senate on May 19.
On Wednesday, Hungary demanded that shipments of Russian oil be exempt from the European Union’s proposed sanctions. This statement comes amidst tense negotiations between Budapest and Brussels over the EU’s sixth round of penalties against Moscow. Budapest has proven the most skeptical of the plan, which requires the unanimous consent of member states.
High energy prices in the UK have led to the worst cost-of-living increases in decades— with economists warning inflation could breach 10% this year. Households faced a record energy bill spike of 54% at the beginning of April and are set to rise again in October.
During President Joe Biden's visit to Europe, the US has struck a deal with the EU to boost its liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply as the trade bloc seeks to reduce its dependence on Russian gas. The war in Ukraine highlighted the Old Continent's unsustainable Russian energy habit.
Tensions between Russia and the West over a possible invasion of Ukraine have reached their zenith. If a shooting war between the two ex-Soviet states does erupt, it will likely happen within the next 72 hours, or not at all (this does not preclude the possibility of limited border incursions by Russian troops or perhaps the formal recognition of Ukraine’s breakaway provinces ).
As the possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine grows ever more likely, Berlin’s hesitancy to impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2 and other pressure points, such as SWIFT bank transfer system, erodes deterrence, and may invite Russian aggression.
The transition to electric vehicles (EVs) is occurring apace; sales in Europe are accelerating thanks to early adopter enthusiasm and government subsidies - given the shift in government and EU-wide cleaner energy initiatives. According to Schmidt Automotive, battery electric vehicle (BEV) sales will reach a market share of 60% in Western Europe by 2030, or 8.4 million vehicles – a paradigm shift on the continent where the internal combustion engine (ICE) was invented over 160 years ago.
A new European Union (EU) proposal to treat new nuclear power and natural gas investments as “green” is sparking controversy over the taxonomy of sustainable energy, provoking a clash between Paris and Berlin.
Nord Stream 2 (NS2), Europe’s most contentious infrastructure project, seems to have survived the Putin-Biden teleconference and is likely to be approved by the German regulator. This outcome may be the purpose of the recent Russian troop mobilization. Europe’s and Germany’s dependence on Russian gas deepens and may appear irreversible, with long-term geo-strategic consequences the U.S. leaders and planners should take into account. Yet, Russia’s clash with the West would incur very high costs on the Kremlin.
Russia is escalating pressure on Ukraine, threatening to drag the U.S. and NATO into their worst confrontation with Moscow since the Cold War. A devastating combination of external and internal threats now imperil Ukraine's security, with energy playing a key part.
The United States recently reaffirmed its intent to support Ukrainian energy security amidst the near-certain completion of Nord Stream 2 (NS2) – Russia’s controversial pipeline, which will pump 55 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas into Germany while increasing Europe’s dependence on Gazprom and entirely circumventing Ukraine. The $11bn project was completed in September and is now awaiting final approval from German regulators.
OPEC and its oil-producing partners have rebuffed President Joe Biden’s calls for increased production amidst rising fuel prices, retorting that if the United States believes the world’s economy needs more energy, then it has the capability to increase production itself. The OPEC+ alliance, made up of OPEC members led by Saudi Arabia and non-member top producers guided by Russia, approved an increase in production of 400,000 barrels per day for the month of December.
President Joe Biden is in Glasgow, on the second phase of a trip abroad which began with the 2021 G20 summit in Rome. Joining him in Scotland is an outsized American delegation for the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), including not only Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy and Climate Envoy John Kerry, but six members of cabinet. To avoid meeting Biden – and international criticism – China’s leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin do not participate in Glasgow.
Ministers from twenty-four developing nations – including China, India, Vietnam, and Pakistan – released a statement ahead of the United Nations Climate Change summit (COP26) denouncing new net-zero standards as discriminatory. The plan asks for all countries to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Climate negotiations have long been shaped by equity concerns; this makes sense. The recognition that different countries have different responsibilities for, and capabilities to, address climate change is at the heart of the U.N. negotiation process. More advanced countries not only have greater resources to devote towards the greening of their economies relative to emerging economies, they also benefitted from unlimited cheap fossil fuels throughout the 20th century to get where they are today. Many argue that is unfair for these advanced economies to “pull the ladder up behind them” now that they have reached a sufficient level of development. Not all countries can afford to make the same expensive energy transitions as their already developed neighbors.
The recently disclosed Pandora Papers—a massive trove of documents disclosing offshore bank accounts, tax evasion and money laundering—revealed massive corruption in numerous European countries. The prime minister of the Czech Republic, the president of Ukraine and many others are allegedly involved. Such corruption corrodes the body politic of U.S. allies, and even threatens their security.
Europe is in the throes of an unprecedented energy crunch. Some call it a crisis, which, if not addressed, may be comparable to the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s – with dire economic, social and political consequences. Brent crude is at a 5 year high of $84 per barrel while spot natural gas prices are up more than 500% year-over-year, forcing highly polluting gas-to-coal switching and putting the brakes on the EU’s green energy transition. Resurgent energy demand post-Covid, extreme weather events (unprecedented heatwaves and prolonged winters), supply chain disruptions, and poor regional and global stockpiling have all contributed to Europe’s current crisis. Russia’s supremo Vladimir Putin may have a reason to pop a champagne bottle in view of the EU’s sanctions on the Kremlin. He says that Europe had created a self-inflicted wound. He may be right.
The fuel crisis spreading across Europe and Asia highlights the weather-related vulnerabilities faced by global energy systems. As wind and solar falter under intermittency, power generation has defaulted to gas, where demand is being squeezed by early-autumn heating and late-summer electric cooling needs across Eurasia. The reverberations of February’s polar vortex in Texas—which froze gas output—continue to be felt as resulting low reserves run dry and Gazprom dithers. The resiliency of energy supply chains is being put to the test—and failing.
As an exhausted, internally divided America proclaims its return and promises a new era of diplomatic leadership, its global partners are rightfully skeptical. Year one of the Biden era has seen the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, casting doubts about the president’s foreign policy judgment. So long as the disgraced President Donald J. Trump remains the Republicans’ current frontrunner for 2024, the world cannot expect fidelity and competence to emerge from the loyal opposition. For now, at least, it is on President Biden to provide leadership, course-correct away from the lack of reliability, and contain Chinese aggrandizement before its merry band of fellow autocrats from Moscow to Kabul and from Tehran to Pyongyang supplants the US-led world order. Biden’s recent work to transform Australia into an Indo-Pacific bulwark against China, however, has worryingly offended a critical ally — France — and exposed some serious bungling in the U.S. Government.