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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 25-Dec-2021
25-Dec-21 World View -- Merry Christmas! America plays Santa to keep Europe from freezing

Web Log - December, 2021

25-Dec-21 World View -- Merry Christmas! America plays Santa to keep Europe from freezing

Russia cuts natural gas flows to Europe as possible Ukraine extortion ploy

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia cuts natural gas flows to Europe as possible Ukraine extortion ploy


Ukraine.  In 2014, Russia invaded and occupied Donbas, and invaded and annexed Crimea.  In 2018, Russia completed a bridge over the Kerch Strait, controlling access to the Sea of Azov.  Putin may next be planning to invade the seaports Mariupol and Berdyansk, in order to create a land bridge from Russia to Crimea
Ukraine. In 2014, Russia invaded and occupied Donbas, and invaded and annexed Crimea. In 2018, Russia completed a bridge over the Kerch Strait, controlling access to the Sea of Azov. Putin may next be planning to invade the seaports Mariupol and Berdyansk, in order to create a land bridge from Russia to Crimea

Merry Christmas, everyone! There's peace in Europe right now, but we don't know how long it will last.

The drama is growing on Russia's border with Ukraine, where Russia now has over 120,000 troops, along with tanks and other military equipment, apparently in preparation for an imminent invasion of Ukraine. Vladimir Putin says that the US and Nato are to blame for the hundreds of thousands of troops on the border with Ukraine, which is typical of the garbage that comes out every time Putin opens his mouth. Putin claims that there are no invasion plans, but Putin would say that, no matter what his plans. Putin is following the exact same playbook that he followed in 2014, when he illegally invaded eastern Ukraine, and he illegally invaded and annexed Crimea, after claiming he wouldn't do so.

However, there's a very interesting and amusing sub-plot to the current drama, where American energy firms are playing Santa Claus to keep Europe from freezing to death, despite the efforts of Grinch Putin.

Starting last weekend, flows of natural gas from Russia into Europe have been falling, depriving the Europeans of the natural gas needed to heat their homes. By Tuesday, European gas prices had spiked 40% to an all-time historic high. Freezing temperatures across Europe, low Russian gas supply, and low wind power generation in Germany all combined to send European and UK gas prices to new records.

It's not known whether Russia capped gas flows because of a shortage of gas in Russia, or because Putin wants to use extortion to force the EU to accede to his demands on Ukraine.

Part of the geopolitical situation is that Putin wants Germany to approve a new pipeline, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. This is important because much of Russia's gas flow to Europe currently comes through a pipeline that passes through Ukraine, forcing Russia to pay commissions to Ukraine. Once the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is approved, then Russia can bypass Ukraine, and end the payments.

American energy firms play Santa Claus and send an LNG flotilla to Europe

The situation has pushed European gas prices way above Asian prices, and 14 times higher than prices in the US. As a result, a flotilla of at least 30 LNG (liquified natural gas) tankers from American energy firms have been or are being diverted from Asia to Europe.

As a result, gas prices in Europe fell over 20% on Friday. The fall in gas prices was helped by forecasts of warmer weather on Friday through Monday.

America's Santa Claus flotilla is expected to keep European gas prices down for several weeks, but it's a temporary fix. By summer, at the latest, gas prices are expected to spike once again.

Germany and France fight over coal and nuclear energy

Europe's energy problems are substantially exacerbated by the climate change chaos going on in Europe, which is pitting Germany and France against each other.

France is first in the world in its reliance on nuclear energy. But France was forced to shut down two nuclear power plants last week, because of potential safety faults. The shut down reactors accounted for 10% of the nation's nuclear capacity, straining the nation's power grids in the cold weather. This has led a desperate president Emmanuel Macron to approve the firing up of six oil-fired power plants on Tuesday morning.

Macron has previously stated his commitment to "green energy," meaning wind and solar, and so many people were shocked last month when he announced in a televised speech, "For the first time in decades [France] will relaunch the construction of nuclear reactors." Macronís government argues that investments in nuclear power will allow France to keep energy costs in check, while meeting its climate goals.

Macron's announcement infuriated the anti-nuclear activists in Germany. Germany has no such political disputes, because Germany is producing energy by burning coal, flooding the atmosphere with pollutants and emissions. Indeed, the country continues to raze villages to make way for new coal mines.

Nuclear power plants produce "clean energy," with no carbon emissions, but activists claim that they're too dangerous. However, pro-nuclear activists point out that far more people die from air pollution in Germany than could ever die from a nuclear power plant meltdown.

After the meltdown in 2011 of the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, Germany has banned further nuclear development. Germany, Denmark and Austria are fiercely opposed to any further building of nuclear-power plants, or of designating nuclear energy as "climate-friendly."

The outlook in Europe

America's Santa Claus flotilla of LNG tankers may keep the Europeans from freezing this winter. At least, the LNG shipments will help keep gas prices down so that Europeans can afford to heat their homes.

But the big question in Europe is Putin's apparent plans to invade Ukraine. He claims that he has no plans to do so, but he would say that no matter what he plans, and he keeps massing more and more troops and military equipment on the border.

So it would be quite surprising if Europe got through the next few months unscathed.

Sources:/

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the Generational Dynamics World View News thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Dec-2021) Permanent Link
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