Frogs, liverwurst & spaghetti
June 20, 2022
Winter is coming. Europe faces an energy, food, economic and migration catastrophe and the European Union’s three most powerful nations -- ridiculed by Russians as “frogs, liverwurst and spaghetti” -- finally realize this. On June 16, the leaders of France, Germany and Italy visited Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv in a show of solidarity and are endorsing its membership candidacy to the 27-member European Union (EU) Club. This united support follows the hellish bombardment that’s obliterating Ukraine and Europeans realize that the battlefield and “invasion” is shifting to their countries. Vladimir Putin has pulled out the heavy economic artillery – the weaponization of energy and food – to destabilize the continent, the United States, and world. Already, 7.7 million Ukrainians have fled for Europe, another 8 million are displaced inside the country, and millions more may arrive from Africa, thanks to Putin’s blockade of Ukrainian food exports. When food prices soar, starvation looms and regimes collapse.
France’s Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Olaf Scholtz and Italy’s Mario Draghi face voter and consumer outrage over inflation, exorbitant costs due to sanctions, economic contraction, and the costly global competition to acquire energy. Essentially, Europe must scrap its economic model which has been based for years on cheap Russian oil and natural gas. This was due to the fact that Germany’s previous leaders – Merkel and Schroder – were co-opted by Putin and decided to rely on Russia. It represents one of the world’s greatest economic follies. Poland, Ukraine and the United States warned about this threat to Europe’s energy security and were ignored. Now everyone pays for their stupidity.
“For many years, Russia has been creating the impression that it is allegedly a reliable supplier of energy resources. But in reality it managed to make different European countries dependent on it,” explains Zelensky. “And now, when Russia decided to wage a war to conquer European nations, it used this energy chain first. It provoked historically extremely high gas prices. It restricts gas supplies, blackmailing individual countries and Europe as a whole. It violates existing contracts – requires payment for gas in rubles and artificially limits the volume of supply.”
Putin’s war is also against the West as a whole. Energy and food prices represent a big chunk of Consumer Price Indices and therefore official rates of inflation. Price increases have forced central bank to impose interest rate hikes that have caused the world’s stock and bond markets to tank, along with real estate values. This has brought the “yellow jackets” out in full force in France and recently prevented Macron from getting a legislative majority in France. Within months, Germans and Italians go to the polls, as will Americans this November. In all elections, the issues of gasoline pump prices and the cost of groceries will be front and center. Putin is disrupting all their democracies.
Worse winter approaches. Europeans scramble for supplies, scrapping environmental safeguards by restarting coal mines and drilling for gas in the North Sea off Netherland’s coast. France is refurbishing nuclear plants to extend their lifespans – an emissions-free energy source which Germany foolishly axed. In fact, the denuclearization of Germany (see this newsletter) is why Russia now murders Ukrainians by the thousands per week, destroys its cities and infrastructure and damages the global economy. The U.S. is energy self sufficient but President Joe Biden is to meet with OPEC leader Saudi Arabia shortly to convince the oil and gas cartel to open its taps and lower prices globally.
On the supply side, America and Canada are laggards and have each failed to crank up production of oil or liquefied natural gas to ship to Europe because their leaderships are riddled with “climate change” zealots. Today, Russian natural gas shipments to Europe have fallen to 55 percent of what’s required. France has received no natural gas across its eastern border for weeks and Italy is receiving 50 per cent of its needs. Europe’s dominant supplier, Russia’s Gazprom which is run by Putin pal Alexei Miller, has made it clear Moscow could turn off the pipeline at any moment. If it does, the EU runs out of gas this winter.
Besides that, another supply hazard was illustrated last week when a devastating fire at a liquefied natural gas export facility in Texas shut down production. This facility is a major supplier to Europe and, frankly, from now on should be protected by the U.S. military. The fire, to me, is highly suspicious and if investigations show that Russian involvement was involved, the arson would represent a direct attack on a NATO country.
Europe’s short-term solution is to fill its gas tanks and heat its homes this winter by rationing and finding alternative sources. The permanent fix is to flood Ukraine with weaponry and ammunition so that it can bring about a stalemate or retreat, kill thousands more Russian troops, wait for Putin’s ammunition to run out first and negotiate from strength. Also, the West as a whole must step up sanctions and completely crater Russia’s economy. As for the “Frogs, Liverwurst and Spaghetti” threesome, they must dramatically increase their military help and deliveries to Ukraine. So far, all have been remiss – Latvia, for instance, has sent more battleground equipment than France. Ukraine’s battlefield strength is key to stopping the conflict.
The good news is that Putin’s War against Europe is finally being openly discussed in the cafes, bierstubes, and patios of Europe — mostly because the price has jumped for baguettes, diesel and flour to make pasta. The other good news is that the continent’s leaders acknowledge that Ukraine is doing all their dirty work and they must do more. But until that happens in the weeks and months to come, some Europeans will freeze in the dark. And that, tragically, will finally focus their minds on stopping Putin by any means available.
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