Editor's note: Thomas W. Pauken II is the author of "U.S. vs China: From Trade War to Reciprocal Deal," and a consultant on Asia-Pacific affairs and geopolitical commentator. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.
The European Union announced that it will impose 15 percent reductions on energy consumption for all its 27 member states, going into effect as of this Tuesday, August 9. The European Union Commission calls for the mandates, which will continue on from August through March next year, in efforts to store sufficient gas capacity for the continent this winter.
According to experts, the EU must store a bare minimum of 30 billion cubic meters for the bloc's residents to survive an average or warmer than normal winter. There's no guarantee such balmy weather patterns will occur, simply because Europeans hope so.
There's a probability the next winter could be colder than expected and if that's the case – the EU must store gas capacity from a range of 30-45 billion cubic meters. Nonetheless, these figures are not realistic either, since that's assuming most European families would refrain from heating their homes. Therefore, Europe requires real storage capacity at about 60-70 billion cubic meters of gas.
Nonetheless if Brussels intends on following up on its stringent economic sanctions against Moscow, the regional bloc cannot avoid the dire energy shortages for the winter that looms ahead, even with its 15 percent electricity consumption reductions.
Yet, the EU is not expected to push back against Washington, which will create doomsday conditions for them. Brussels has joined in with London and Washington to stand strongly opposed to Moscow over the Russia-Ukraine conflict. However, the sanctions have seriously harmed the EU economy while Brussels remains unwilling to show compromise with Moscow.
Kremlin delays receiving a turbine
Europe will likely confront a dark winter ahead, but they could still avert the worst case scenario. Nevertheless that would require Brussels to rebel against the United States' hegemony policy.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has increased the stakes by delaying actions to receive a Nord Stream 1 gas turbine that was repaired by German-based Siemens Energy as they had conducted maintenance in Canada. The turbine was scheduled for delivery to Russia last month.
Gazprom, the Russian state-owned gas supplier, operates the Nord Stream 1 pipeline that runs through the Baltic Sea and transports gas into a LNG terminal located on Germany's north coast. Due to delays, Russia can deliver only about 20 percent of gas capacity via the Nord Stream 1 while energy prices keep soaring higher.
The Kremlin explained they could not take control of the turbine, since the EU, U.S., Canada and United Kingdom have all placed sanctions on exporting equipment products to Russia. It should also be noted that only engineers from Siemens Energy can install the turbine into the pipeline.
Additionally, Siemens AG announced plans on May 12 to withdraw its business operations from Russia. A corporate statement said:
"Siemens will exit the Russian market as a result of the Ukraine war. The company has started proceedings to wind down its industrial operations and all industrial business activities. The financial impact of this decision will be reported as part of the regular disclosure on the second quarter results today on May 12, 2022."
Although Siemens conducted a spin-off of Siemens Energy in September 2020, the two companies remain closely linked. If Putin agrees to accept the turbine, Siemens Energy would have to change course on Siemens AG's prior decision to withdraw its operations in Russia.
Brussels won't budge on sanctions
Putin has placed the EU in a corner but Washington will still bully Brussels, demanding they not back down over sanctions with Russia. And if many ordinary Europeans suffer the severe consequences of freezing next winter, the EU will stand firm with the U.S. regardless.
Meanwhile, the EU Commission keeps thinking they can avoid calamity by mandating 15 percent energy cuts.
"Considering the imminent danger to the security of gas supply brought about by the Russian military aggression against Ukraine, this regulation should enter into force as a matter of urgency," as stated in the European Union's official administrative gazette.
The words sound alarming but a few EU member states are not connected to Europe's connectivity grid, nor do they have access to gas pipelines. Spain and Portugal are refusing to share gas with France, while Ireland, Malta and Cyprus have received full exemptions and not required to comply with energy reductions' mandates.
In other words, the 15 percent cutbacks will not succeed and media reports are speculating that the real reductions are estimated to be at around 10 percent or lower.
EU must take more urgent response
The EU is sleepwalking toward disaster. The energy shortages in the continent are getting worse with each passing day. Brussels could take a more independent approach by pushing back against the U.S.-led sanctions on Russia, but EU officials lack the courage and fortitude to support such actions.
Widespread energy shortages striking Europe this winter seem inevitable. EU member states will likely endure unexpected rolling black outs, as well as suspension of heating at homes, offices and other public places. The U.S. will not come to the rescue, since the transport infrastructure and LNG terminals to accept U.S. gas imports won't be in place until spring next year at the earliest date.
Europe will feel the pain for failing to strike back against U.S. hegemony. Should we feel sorry for Europeans? No, they made the stubborn decision to stand with Washington and they must suffer the consequences for it.
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