Spare a thought for Europe this winter

This makes our Eskom trials and tribulations look insignificant:

With deep circles under their eyes, the leaders of Germany’s coalition government emerged on the morning of Sunday September 4th looking as if they had partied all night. In fact, they had just spent 22 hours negotiating an agreement on an energy-bill relief package. The package will cost at least €65bn ($64.7bn), equivalent to 1.8% of the country’s gdp. It is supposed to preserve social peace during a winter that will clobber Germans with sky-high prices for natural gas and everything else. “You’ll never walk alone,” promised Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, who has become fond of quoting the song by Gerry & The Pacemakers in recent months.

In addition to Germany, Sweden and the Czech Republic unveiled new measures this week to help citizens and businesses cope with soaring energy prices. Europe’s bills have been rising ever since February, when the eu imposed sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and Russia responded by throttling supplies. The latest jump came after the decision on September 2nd by the g7, a club of big Western economies, to impose a cap on the price of Russian oil. The following day Russia announced it would indefinitely continue its cut-off of gas deliveries through Nord Stream 1, its main pipeline to Germany, supposedly for technical reasons. On the morning of September 5th the price of gas on Amsterdam’s ttf exchange leapt some 30%. It now stands at about ten times the average price in September 2021.

Russia’s weaponisation of energy supplies is testing Europe’s financial resources. Governments are struggling to balance relief for citizens and firms with the need to let energy prices rise in order to discourage overuse. They must also avoid getting into bidding wars with each other. On September 9th EU energy ministers will meet in Brussels to discuss collective measures, such as common caps on gas or electricity prices, to solve problems they cannot tackle individually. If they fail, European voters may demand their governments drop sanctions on Russia in the hope of getting cheaper energy supplies—or make way for new leaders who will.

Germany, the continent’s largest economy, has implemented the largest energy-bill-relief packages. The new one is its third and biggest. (The two previous ones together amounted to €30bn.) It includes tax breaks for energy-intensive industries, one-off payments of €200 for students and €300 for pensioners, subsidised tickets for public transport and higher monthly child benefits. An electricity-price brake will cap the price of a basic minimum amount of electricity for households and small businesses. Basic welfare provisions and child benefits will rise, as will rent subsidies for the needy.

Full article: Search | The Economist


As I understand, from Bloomberg anyway, this isn’t exactly sustainable for Russia either.

I was reflecting this morning on how things are different for Russia, compared to Germany in 1939.

Germany at least had some allies. Russia essentially has none. A couple of countries are trying to remain neutral (ourselves included), but that is about it.

Germany’s opponents were in themselves small. Remember Britain was the first to declare war (two days after the invasion of Poland), with France later on the same day, and the rest of the world essentially within that week, but the main power was Britain, and in terms of how strong they were… Britain was just about outmatched and pretty much f…ed by 1941 when the Americans got dragged in.

Russia on the other hand… after Sweden and Finland joined Nato, they pretty much have multiple Polands around them that will bring down the force of everyone including the US should they go anywhere further than Ukraine. So win or lose, this is the end of Russia.

I also think this is the end of Putin. Especially if he loses.

I think Russia is going to feel the pain sooner or later.
In the latest discussion on the Ukraine conflict the closing comment by the Economist’s Russian correspondent Arkady Ovstrovsky: (transcript by yours truly)

‘I’m not sure there will be a Russian sphere of influence when this war is over…
It’s looking to me that Russia cannot win this war. The outcome will have significant impact on Russia’s political setup. I don’t think that after this war there will be much left, if anything, of Russia’s sphere of influence.
The West, under the current political leadership, is determined to ensure that Russia doesn’t have the capacity to threaten or exert any pressure on any of its neighbours, near or far.’

Essentially yes, but “enemy of my enemy is my friend” comes to mind.

Now that the world knows:

  1. Russia is not that strong military-wise and the troops are not that well trained, are dying quite fast for what they don’t quite know anymore, and like tank crews, pilots, and leaders, who cannot easily be replaced.
  2. Them using Cold War era, or slightly newer, equipment/ammunition stocks.
  3. A military supply chain that is rife with corruption, oligarchs come to mind.
  4. The Wagner Group out in the open with direct links to Putin, not that “fearsome” either as some thought, more a vicious group given some bare bones training, handed some military-grade weapons, and then sent into an area that may benefit Russia, anywhere in the world, dying in droves in Ukraine.

Going forward would be interesting to see how N/Korea fares supplying Russia, who seems to be running low on a lot of things, things not even China seems happy to supply them with.

Also read that N’Korea could also “export” troops, the state gets paid, not the troops.

Now it is important to see who supplies Putin with what, because at present, can change, the West will keep on supplying Ukraine with what they need, carefully and with insight, to not further escalate this fiasco Putin has created for himself.

So, if N/Korea supplies Putin, and it makes no difference, it would be an eye opener into the real N/Korea ability, methinks. N/Korea, like in Russia, has some very cool military toys developed, the problem, however, neither has the funds, nor the factories, nor the parts, to mass produce new equipment, and then train their troops on it properly, as the West can, and does.

The one thing I ponder on is when China may decide to make a move on Taiwan, ticking off the USA something fierce. And IF the USA then decides to enter the fray ito China/Taiwan, THAT could be the trigger for China to go full blast forward next to Russia against the West with N’Korea’s “small one” getting giddy that he can now shoot some missiles, with some extremists in the Middle East grabbing the opportunity to then go for like say uhm … Israel … cause Russia and China are there to “back” them, kinda, or so they thought.

Many scenarios, yet all it takes, like WW1 and 2, is for someone to make a move, and Putin goes down in history as the one who started WW3.

I read an interesting comparison about that… somewhere on Quora.

The Russian side is using old equipment, doesn’t always have the best training (outside of the elite groups), and is fighting an uphill battle.

Similarly, the Ukrainian side (with the exception of a hand full of very new bits that they have little training for) is using old equipment, doesn’t always have the best training outside the best of the best, and is also fighting an uphill battle.

That means neither side can just push the other one out of the way.

The result is very bloody fighting (around 200 dead Ukrainian soldiers a day, even more Russians), while the front moves extremely slowly with neither side having the ability to really “vanquish” the other.

So this thing is going to drag on for a while…

True, but this is what I’m talking about, changes a LOT, and has so far, and it seems to be “ramping up”, the supply of tried and tested, and new(er) military equipment and armament.

Not to mention, more and more Western Nations are getting off their backs.

And from the New York times, following on on this thread.

Putin’s energy influence is weakening, Europe says
Russian officials are watching and waiting for what they believe is the inevitable collapse of European resolve, as the economic pain from a lack of Russian gas bites. But increasingly, Europe’s leaders are signaling that, having spent months preparing for this moment, they are ready for the showdown.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, European energy ministers and diplomats have been scrambling to organize energy deals ahead of a potentially rough winter without Russian gas. Over that time, Russia has vastly reduced supplies or suspended them for days at a time. Finally, last week, it halted flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline that supplies Germany and much of Europe.

When the blow finally came, it provoked more ridicule than outrage among European leaders, who say that by now they would expect nothing less from Vladimir Putin, the Russian presiden,t and that they have accepted that the era of cheap Russian gas is over, unimaginable as that might have seemed just months ago.

Markets: After rising 5 percent on the heels of Gazprom’s announcement, prices are now lower than they were at the start of last week.

Quotable: For decades, dating to the days of the Soviet Union, Moscow had insisted to Germany and others that it was a stable energy partner. “Something that held true throughout the Cold War no longer applies,” Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, said. “Russia is no longer a reliable energy supplier. That is part of the new reality.”

The West has a balancing act to perform: To squeeze Putin out of power by reducing Russia to a 3rd world economy but at the same time they need to plan to put Russia back on its feet as soon as Putin is gone (and another lunatic hasn’t taken over!)
It’s going to be frustrating for Europe that now has to survive without Russian gas & oil and then suddenly it will all be available again.
But these economic wars are way better than the military ones since they can apply pressure in a more humane way.

As Olaf Scholz said: “Russia is no longer a reliable energy supplier. That is part of the new reality.”

Once burnt, twice shy.

For sure! But if they have to get Russia back on its feet what else does it have besides the proverbial begging bowl.
If they have gas in abundance then it’s crazy not to use it but they need a contingency plan if things go pear shaped. But I think you’re correct: They want more control over their energy supplies so this doesn’t bode well for Russia.

Russia will not lose this visible war in Ukraine.
China will not allow Russia to lose, as Russia is essentially China’s buffer between them and Nato/united snakes.
this is a proxy war between china and the west.
the collective west knows that it cannot fight china and Russia simultaneously it will be nuclear suicide.

The European energy crisis is the eu’s own making. they are the only ones that’s really hurt by the united snakes sanctions, and they chose to support the unites snakes agenda above the whishes and needs of their own citizens/voters.

The European unions blind following of the West will lead to civil unrest in their home countries, why should the ordinary European citizen suffer because their elected government serves the us/west’s interest instead of their own people.
I do encounter a lot of anti russian sentiments in our country, are we also blindly following the west’s narrative?

How many times have Russia invaded our country? and the west?
how many African countries have Russia colonized?
How many foreign military bases does Russia have?
How many of my people did Russia put in a concentration camp?
How many times did Russia come with ships and soldiers to conquer our country because we discovered gold?
the genocidal Scorched earth policy was not committed by russians either.
it was Russia that supported the struggle against a unjust government, not only in SA but in a lot of African countries.

With all due respect, I think you’re too quick to give Russia a pass. A lot of the bad stuff that was going on in Africa during the middle of the 20th century was partly their doing. They funded SWAPO and the MPLA with weapons and training for a long time, to name just one. Now of course in hindsight we might say that this was a fight against an unjust government, and I would tend to agree with it, but it came with the unpalatable specter of communism spreading into Africa. Not exactly a good idea either.

Thankfully the wall fell in 1989, and that set the dominoes falling…

We also forget that Russia wasn’t really the “good guys” in the second world war. From 1838 to around 1941, they were engaged in their own empire pursuits. It was only when Germany invaded them that they joined the allies.

I think that an honest look at this makes everyone look bad.

Right now I look at this simply with one question: Which is the greater injustice?

Having your country invaded, your houses razed to the ground, your hospitals… that is the greater injustice.

Well, we shall see who wins this war…
China isn’t allied closely to Russia. There are big differences between them as I understand it.
China is very much in the minds of the West in their dealing with the Ukraine conflict since the same scenarios will repeat in the event of China invading Taiwan

With all of that said, allow me to add the following.

This morning, with the death of Queen Elizabeth the second yesterday, I see a lot of my countrymen again dragging out the old skeletons of the Anglo Boer War.

Excuse me people. That war ended in 1902. The queen was born in 1926. And then after that… a LOT of things happened that I personally would like to be excused from, on account of not having been born yet. Therefore I cannot be overly bitter about the past, because I would end up shooting myself in the foot.

History makes us all look bad.

Which returns me to the basic question: Which is the greater injustice right NOW. That is all we need to be concerned about in my opinion.

Spot on @plonkster! My feelings exactly - as well the sentiments behind “Throwing Stones, and Glass Houses” analogy…


History has all the bad examples, how on this earth does Putin now go and repeat it all up again, and then, just to make sure it is “next level”, he allows his troops to really go scorched earth, AGAIN, rape, pillage and plunder all the way with NO consequences. And WHEN his troops are caught red-handed, and taken to a non-Russian court, they vehemently deny it, shouting “fake news”. :man_facepalming:

Then some come and say “Russia is not too bad … look at the West/NATO” …

At least The West/NATO have freedom of speech/the press than anyone today in Russia. So much so that even years, decades later, the atrocities done by West/NATO, they can be forced to apologize, taken to court, make right, never allow it to happen again, or at least try harder at it all than Putin.

Here is a dare … anyone who says Russia is ok, cool, not dong anything wrong:

  1. Fly to the USA, then, in front of the White House, go and shout/placards/the whole shebang about how good Putin is for invading Ukraine, and protecting the Ukrainians against Nazification. Do it for ±5 days.
  2. Then fly to Russia, in front of the Kremlin, rinse repeat, but this time shouting how wrong Russia is ito Ukraine.

I dare anyone to go and prove to themselves, that Russia is “the good guy” here, TODAY.

What I can see, what I will debate all day (and support your right to say) is that Russia may not be the ONLY bad guy in the room. Fair enough, but two wrongs do not make a right. Ideally we want to aim for zero wrongs :slight_smile:

What I can also see, but with limited applicability, is that there is such a thing as loyalty. There is such a thing as giving a former friend (as much as Russia could be argued to be a former friend anyway) the benefit of the doubt, at least until matters are clearer.

The trouble with this, with people yelling about Nazi-ism and saying Zelensky is Kolomoisky’s puppet, or that Russia has the better track record, even if we concede for the sake of argument that all of that is true… the current war would still be wrong, because of the mentioned injustices.

I think we should not gloss over details currently happening, trying to contemplate the entire situation with no real recent facts, per se.

Allow me some creativity to make a point, as I have been following this daily, from various sources, looking at both sides, having looked at Putin with a favorable eye when he called a “spade a shovel”, not anymore though…

It is really bad in Ukraine, what Russia is doing under Putin’s lead.

Since Putin invaded Ukraine, I have not heard of Russian women/children, men too, being raped, tortured, and killed en-mass by Ukrainian troops, nor by the “West” nor by NATO, whilst Ukraine continued to carpet bomb Russian cities, hospitals, schools, shopping centers … (collateral damage times infinity) … whilst hiding in and around Russian nuclear power stations so that no-one can shoot back.

Nor have I read of people, other than in Russia, when they stand up against Putin today, that they fall out of hospital windows to their death, or that thousands of people are being jailed for daring to speak up, or media blackout of a country.

At THIS point in time, like any fight, one should not ignore the ongoing atrocities done by Russia, blatantly and with impunity.

And IF the “other side” is also committing atrocities against Russia today, in THIS fight, then it will have come out in the press.


Germany build nuclear power plants and then voted against using it, 100% their own fault for the predicament they’re in now…