A former US energy security advisor has warned Vladimir Putin will intensify his energy threats and push the European Union into the “starkest” winter the bloc has ever grappled with. While the EU started to lose a considerable amount of gas from Russia last year, Dr Benjamin Schmitt says, the bloc is about to wrestle with a “harder task” this winter. Speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr Schmitt warned: “This winter, the winter of 2022-2023, is really going to be the starkest task.”
Dr Schmitt said: “I would’ve said that last winter was the biggest task the EU had with Russia’s initiated gas crisis that it created and weaponised energy in the lead-up to its expanded aggression against Ukraine in February.
“Where it intentionally limited gas resources injected into its own Russian state enterprise owned gas storage facilities across the European continent.”
Turning to the upcoming Russian gas threat, he said: “And so, we really need to keep that in mind that this task is going to be even harder than last year. And this is something at the same time that EU member states – especially along NATO’s eastern flank – have been preparing for years.
“You see countries like Poland, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Greece all building significant energy diversification infrastructure for – if you’re talking about the natural gas market – to bring in non-Russia natural gas from the global market or other European producers.”
Dr Schmitt cited the energy projects under construction and put in place over the last few years to diversify away from Russian gas.
He said: “You have the Baltic pipe in Poland from the North Sea through Denmark and Poland that will become online fully in October. You have the Świnoujście LNG terminal that was built several years ago.
“You have the Klaipeda terminal, the independence floating gas unit floating energy to Lithuania. That came online in the last five years.
“And so, the continued building out of these infrastructures – all of these are major steps. But Western Europe has to do some of its homework, in particular Germany, at the same time that these countries along NATO’s eastern flank built out energy diversification infrastructure, Germany did not.”
Dr Schmitt said: “The only project of note that it [Germany] pushed for was Nord Stream 2, which would have actually done the opposite: increase its localised energy dependency on Russian natural gas and concentrate more of Russia’s energy resource exports through a single channel through the Baltic Sea – basically going opposite to the European Union’s energy framework, the policy framework that was built out in 2015 that led to all these others projects.”
The EU’s – and especially Germany’s – need to diversify energy sources is growing with Vladimir Putin threatening to shut down the Nord Stream 1 pipeline again.
The pipeline decreased its capacity to 20 percent – down from 40 percent – in late July when it supposedly closed for annual work maintenance.
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