There are good reasons why Vladimir Putin’s “little green men” have been able to operate with impunity in Ukraine for the past eight years. Putin has been able to deny that Russian troops without insignia are an invasion force because the international community doesn’t want concrete proof of the truth, in case it is obliged to do something about it.
The reason: Russia supplies one third of the gas that heats homes across Europe. Even as Putin cleared the way for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Western countries were still purchasing hundreds of millions of dollars of oil and gas from Russia.
Germany has halted approval for the NordStream 2 pipeline under the Baltic Sea but NordStream 1 is still piping gas and Putin has promised “uninterrupted supply” — for now at least.
Germany, which relies on Russia for 27 per cent of its natural gas (even as it decommissions its nuclear plants and ends coal-fired electricity generation) knows that Putin could weaponize the supply of gas at any time. The solution to this point has been to pay a premium to divert an armada of American LNG that was bound for Asia.