The Business Times

Putin is onto us

When it comes to energy, the West wants five incompatible things at once

Thomas L Friedman
Published Wed, Oct 26, 2022 · 06:46 PM

AS THE Russian army continues to falter in Ukraine, the world is worrying that Vladimir Putin could use a tactical nuclear weapon. Maybe – but for now, I think Putin is assembling a different weapon. It’s an oil and gas bomb that he’s fusing right before our eyes and with our inadvertent help – and he could easily detonate it this winter.

If he does, it could send prices of home heating oil and petrol into the stratosphere. The political fallout, Putin surely hopes, will divide the Western alliance and prompt many countries – including ours, where both MAGA (Make America Great Again) Republicans and progressives are expressing concerns about the spiralling cost of the Ukraine conflict – to seek a dirty deal with the man in the Kremlin, pronto.

In short: Putin is now fighting a ground war to break through Ukraine’s lines and a two-front energy war to break Ukraine’s will and that of its allies. He’s trying to smash Ukraine’s electricity system to ensure a long, cold winter there, while putting himself in position (in ways that I’ll explain) to drive up energy costs for all of Ukraine’s allies. And because we – America and the West – do not have an energy strategy in place to dampen the impact of Putin’s energy bomb, this is a frightening prospect.


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