Saving Ukraine from Russia has become more important to Western leaders than saving the planet from climate change, more important than keeping their populations from freezing in the dark, more important than the viability of Western industries, and more important even than avoiding the risk of an all-out nuclear war between the West and Russia.
An early indication of the West’s loss of all perspective where Russia is concerned – call it Russia Derangement Syndrome – occurred in the United States after Donald Trump was elected president. Large swathes of the public, including virtually all Democrats and the legacy media, embraced a fantasy known as Russian Collusion, which asserted that Russia had colluded with the Trump campaign to install him as president.
The fantasy persisted for three years until 2019 when Russia Collusion was confirmed to be a hoax perpetrated by Trump’s rival for the 2016 presidency, Hillary Clinton.
Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testifies before the House Intelligence Committee in an open hearing in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center in Washington on June 21, 2017. Johnson answered questions about Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential elections and his department’s response to the threat. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Earlier this year, after Russia invaded Ukraine over a territorial dispute, Russia Derangement Syndrome went into overdrive. An infuriated West sanctioned Russian goods and services helter- skelter without thinking through the consequences, chiefly those involving energy. Russia represents continental Europe’s chief energy source and is the main reason Europeans can keep the lights on.
Only after the Europeans decided to punish Russia, and only after Russia announced cuts
to gas flows—temporarily, it said—on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline of 60 percent, did it dawn on Europeans that Russia could retaliate this coming winter through punitively-timed energy curtailments, putting Europe at Russia’s mercy.
In Germany, for example, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s administration did its sums to discover that under all scenarios, Germany lacked the reserves needed to last the winter.
“That was the sobering moment,” admitted Klaus Mueller, who heads Germany’s gas network regulator.
“If we have a very, very cold winter, if we’re careless and far too generous with gas, then it won’t be pretty.”
The European Union, now in a panic, is scrambling to acquire fossil fuels from any sources in a desperate attempt to stockpile energy prior to winter. Germany is returning to coal, as are Austria, Italy, and the Netherlands. The United Kingdom is also turning to coal and reversing its ban on fracking and on North Sea oil production. The EU is endorsing Norway’s latest exploitation of the North Sea and is open to new contracts for long-term commitments of natural gas.
The United States is exporting record amounts of gas, so much so that Europe now receives more high-priced liquefied natural gas from U.S. tankers than inexpensive natural gas from Russian pipelines. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Europeans have advanced more than 20 liquefied natural gas import projects.