‘Let The Wolf’s Tail Freeze’: Putin Doubles Down On Halting Natural Gas Flow To Western Europe

‘Let The Wolf’s Tail Freeze’: Putin Doubles Down On Halting Natural Gas Flow To Western Europe

Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened on Wednesday to let Europe “freeze” through the winter by refusing to continue energy shipments.

Russia severed natural gas flow through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline last week, citing mechanical issues as the country continues its invasion of Ukraine. During a speech at the Eastern Economic Forum, Putin said that he is prepared to ignore existing supply agreements.

“Will there be any political decisions that contradict the contracts? Yes, we just won’t fulfill them. We will not supply anything at all if it contradicts our interests,” Putin remarked. “We will not supply gas, oil, coal, heating oil — we will not supply anything.”

The cutoff of natural gas supplies occurred as finance ministers of the G7 nations — which include France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States — detailed plans to impose a price cap on Russian oil.

“We would only have one thing left to do: as in the famous Russian fairy tale, we would let the wolf’s tail freeze,” Putin added. According to a report from Russian news outlet Pravda, the account centers upon villagers finding a wolf stuck in ice and beating it due to its actions over the summer. Though the wolf eventually escaped, its tail was left in the ice.

Indeed, many European nations find themselves constrained as the cost of natural gas increases more than tenfold. Germany, the continent’s largest economy, imported roughly 55% of its gas from Russia before the invasion of Ukraine, although officials have since reduced dependence to 35%.

Yet several member nations of the European Union, which has endorsed the official policy of becoming “a climate-neutral society” by 2050, have placed heavy regulations upon fossil fuels even as they gradually shutter nuclear power plants. Mentioning low hydropower generation capacity stemming from drought conditions, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Wednesday that the European Union would consider a “mandatory target” for reducing electricity consumption during peak hours.

“If you look at the costs of electricity, there are peak demands. And this is what is expensive, because, in these peak demands, the expensive gas comes into the market,” she commented. “So what we have to do is to flatten the curve and avoid the peak demands. We will propose a mandatory target for reducing electricity use at peak hours.”

Several nations have already enacted energy usage restrictions or warned that such policies could soon be necessary. While the legislature of Spain mandated that public air conditioning be set no lower than 27 degrees Celsius — roughly 80.6 degrees Fahrenheit — through the summer months, French President Emmanuel Macron called for a 10% voluntary reduction in the nation’s power usage to avoid “last resort” consumption limits.

Switzerland, which is not a member of the European Union, may impose hefty fines for citizens who set their thermostats above 19 degrees Celsius — 66 degrees Fahrenheit — in the event of energy rationing. Possible sanctions include three years in prison for intentional offenders.

In a departure from other European officials, however, British Prime Minister Liz Truss reversed the nation’s ban on fracking and proposed a return to oil and gas drilling in the North Sea. “Energy policy over the past decades has not focused enough on securing supply,” Truss told the House of Commons. “All of this has left us vulnerable to volatile global markets and malign actors in an increasingly geopolitical world.”

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