Ukraine-Russia crisis: West must break its dependency on Russian gas while Vladimir Putin remains in charge – Scotsman comment
But claims from Moscow that some of its troops on Ukraine’s border are returning to base at least offers the hope that Putin is backing down and a major European war is not about to break out.
However, if that does happen, it would be a mistake for the West to breathe a sigh of relief and return to business as usual.
The fact Putin was willing to use the threat of military force in an attempt to create a Russian sphere of influence, with sovereign states forced to do his bidding, is yet another sign of his true nature.
Russian attempts to undermine western democracy, cyberattacks such as one on Ukraine yesterday, the annexation of Crimea, the imprisonment of his main domestic political opponent, Alexei Navalny, and a host of other hostile actions should have already made that clear.
Putin’s main source of power over European countries is Russian gas, particularly given the demand from Germany. The threat that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany would not go ahead in the event of an invasion of Ukraine is one of the main planks of the West's attempts to avert war.
But, unlike Alex Salmond, who disgracefully continues to host a show on Putin’s propaganda outlet, RT, wise political leaders must now realise they need to gradually release themselves from the grip that Putin has on the European economy.
Long term, that should create an opportunity for Scotland, aka the Saudi Arabia of renewables, to sell low-carbon electricity to Germany to replace unreliable imports of high-carbon Russian gas.
Instead of Nord Stream 2, Germany could instead look to the NeuConnect Interconnector, currently being built between Germany and the UK, and other such highly efficient electricity cables from peaceful, liberal democracies for its energy needs.
Otherwise, the West will continue to be plagued by Putin’s sabre-rattling style of ‘negotiation’ and the risks that this ruthless and violent despot could have a temper tantrum.
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