As Russian forces continue fighting in Ukraine, talk of winter is rife in Brussels. However, the battle itself is less of a focus than how the invasion has exacerbated Europe’s oil crisis. Leaders of the European Union make a point of stating that they will always support Ukraine.
Ukraine requests that Europe continue to support the fight
Despite the bloc’s recent failure to reach consensus on additional sanctions against Moscow, this is still the case.
Although the sanctions are harming Europe as well as Russia, the EU claims they are “grinding” the Russian economy.
At least in public, Ukrainian authorities claim they are not worried about how the energy crisis in Europe will damage people’s support for them.
However, they are not dismissing it. The message to the EU has been consistent and likely coordinated, and officials in Kyiv are aware that the upcoming months will be difficult. They say: “It will be terrible for you, but think what it will be like for us.”
Vladimir Putin has warned that such a step will result in the interruption of Russian energy supplies, and the 27 member states are currently debating measures to control the price of Russian gas.
Europe views Russia’s temporary blockage of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which connects Russia to Germany, as a punitive move by the Kremlin to raise gas prices and cause unrest.
President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged European nations to remain united while frequently denouncing what he terms Russia’s energy blackmail. Moscow is “trying to attack through poverty and political disarray where it cannot yet attack with missiles,” he claimed last weekend.
Days previously, First Lady Olena Zelenska claimed that Ukraine was counting casualties while the UK was “counting pennies.” Words that are intended to resound simply and powerfully.
However, as the war has continued and its effects have spread across the continent, there are worries that the EU’s collective will is eroding. President Putin’s invasion and the accompanying brutalities appeared to shock the EU into action; it responded quickly.
Ihor Zhovkva, the deputy head of the president’s office, told the BBC that no leader has connected their country’s backing to public opinion and that the Ukrainian government was certain that its European partners would not modify their approach.
The intention is for people to attribute their problems to Russia’s activities rather than the assistance provided to Ukraine or the response to the invasion.
Western sanctions against Russia and military assistance to Ukraine are essential. It wants even more sanctions and requires more money and weaponry to maintain the nation.
There are no indications that Liz Truss, the UK’s new prime minister, is less involved in the conflict than her predecessor. After only a few hours in the office, she started calling President Zelensky. Additionally, US Vice President Joe Biden will ask Congress for an additional $11.7 billion (£10 billion) in emergency funding to help Ukraine.
The situation may be more complicated across the European Union. At least six sanction packages have already been approved by the EU, but it’s unclear when the next set of official penalties will be implemented.
Requests for a complete EU-wide ban on Russian visas fell short of the necessary backing, so the 27 members agreed for more modest limitations.
They wrangled over a softened oil embargo before to the summer vacation as well. Poland and the Baltic states are two “hard-line” member states who think the EU shouldn’t wait for “triggers” before taking action. Others are more dubious, claiming that it’s time to evaluate the situation and make sure that the current defenses are effective.
Hungary continues to stir up controversy despite previous accusations that it has a “soft” approach toward Russia. Without the removal of three billionaires off the list, Budapest threatened to stall the renewal of some sanctions. You have a moral option, Ihor Zhovka said in response to Europe’s energy problem.
On the one hand, your living conditions are getting worse, and on the other, you’re dependent on the attacker, he said.
According to Mr. Zhovka, reducing Europe’s dependency on Russian energy may be challenging now, but it will be worthwhile in the long run because Russia’s aggressiveness in Ukraine is not going away.
Denys Shmyhal, the prime minister of Ukraine, meantime, urged member nations last week to support a complete energy embargo and remove all Russian institutions from the Swift financial messaging system.
Furthermore, Brussels is criticized for taking too long to deliver the billions of dollars in financial aid that have been promised to Ukraine while that country keeps pleading for more advanced armaments.
Furthermore, there are worries that if a right-wing combination wins the upcoming elections, Italy would lose its reputation as a trustworthy partner. Up to 70,000 people demonstrated against the EU and NATO as well as energy prices on Saturday in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.
Groups on the far right and far left organized the protest. “Russian fifth columnists,” according to Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, were responsible.
However, lawmakers are well aware that anger over high energy costs could flare up. While acknowledging there was a possibility, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was adamant that “the sanctions will endure, even in wintertime.” Her administration just unveiled a €65 billion package of consumer and business assistance.
While they had been concerned about tremors coming from Berlin, a senior European diplomat told the BBC that they now believed views towards Russia had actually changed. There is no turning back for the EU as a whole, even while the way forwards is being actively discussed.
Winter will be difficult for most of Europe as well as Ukraine, according to Mr. Zhovka: “In Ukraine, the price is the lives of Ukrainians.”
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