EU ambassador pledges Ukraine’s support in ‘current battle’ despite energy crisis | Whuff News

As winter rages in Europe, concerns are growing that the continent’s unwavering support for Ukraine could come at a very high price.

The European Union has so far maintained its steadfast policy of opposing Vladimir Putin and his war in Ukraine with a series of stinging sanctions against Russia. But the Kremlin has fought to exploit its most valuable foreign asset: energy. Before the war, the 27 EU countries relied on Russia for 40% of natural gas and 29% of crude oil: things that have dried up a lot in the past few months, especially natural gas.

Energy shortages have caused a crisis on the continent, with electricity prices rising 10-fold on average over the decade. But for now, even that doesn’t seem like it will be enough for European officials to abandon support for Ukraine. The stakes are very high.

“This is an ongoing battle for us,” Stavros Lambrinidis, the EU’s ambassador to the US, said in an interview with Bloomberg this week. “To be [Putin] our success, we will have a lot of difficulty as Americans and Europeans to project our power to the rest of the world in the coming decades. “

Support when facing difficulties

The energy crisis has forced European governments to fill their natural gas reserves to record levels in preparation for winter, when energy demand tends to peak, but it is also forcing officials to plan ahead.

High energy prices, moderate temperatures so far, and near-full natural gas reserves have helped European countries avoid stricter energy regulation measures. This winter’s major energy crisis may have been averted, but global shortages of natural gas and oil could bleed into next year, which experts say could be even more severe in Europe.

Lambrinidis said Europe has enough gas in storage for the winter, even if the last Russian gas was cut off today. But electricity bills are still high, he added, forcing European officials to plan natural gas contracts with suppliers including the US and Norway until 2024.

The energy crisis, said Lambrinidis, was largely to do with Europe after becoming too dependent on Russian power, repeating the same statement made last month by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who said the EU had allowed Russia – and China. so that we can be “the foundation of our success” for a long time.

But Lambrinidis also said the war has left Europe confused about the dangers of getting too involved with Putin’s leadership, and that supporting Ukraine has become a task as part of an effort to contain the Russian leader.

“The support and commitment we are showing to Ukraine is not without the pain caused by this war in Europe. It is mainly because of it,” said Lambrinidis.

“We understand because of this war that we cannot trust in the future people like Putin or anyone like that,” he added.

‘No safe distance’

Lambrinidis is not the first leader to characterize the war in Ukraine as a major conflict surrounding the future of Europe and Western democracy.

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson argued at last summer’s G7 meeting that the financial cost of supporting Ukraine was “a price worth paying for democracy and freedom.” In her annual European Union speech in September, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described the war as “about democracy against democracy.” And in a speech in March, shortly after the start of the war, US President Joe Biden presented the conflict as a “great battle for freedom” against the “autocrat” Vladimir Putin.

But the war may represent more than a simple fight to uphold democratic values, as it may determine the geopolitical alignment of the future, according to Lambrinidis.

“[Putin] It’s not just trying to erase Ukraine from the map, he said. “He is a cheap partner of China, and if he succeeds we will have to face very high costs – Americans and Europeans – for a victorious Russia and a courageous China.”

China has remained neutral since the conflict broke out, maintaining its strategic and ideological ties with Russia while avoiding antagonizing the West.

EU leaders recently confirmed their support for Ukraine, with plans drawn up for 1.5 billion dollars a month in financial aid starting next year, but talks have been complicated by disagreements over the continent’s energy cap and public unrest over high electricity rates. prices.

But despite the growing costs of the energy crisis, Lambrinidis insisted that democracy is on the way in Ukraine, and urged European and US leaders not to soften their support for the country.

“There is no safe distance from a dictator sitting on nuclear weapons just pushing to make sure he can bend the will of democracy to his own,” he said.

November 1, 2022: This story has been amended to reflect that European leaders are making plans to support Ukraine with 1.5 billion euros a month.

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