The West’s response through six months of Russia’s war in Ukraine has remained strong and largely united — to the surprise of many.
The trans-Atlantic alliance managed to pull together to provide financial and weapons support to Kyiv, reach agreements to stop using Russian energy, and implement sanctions designed to hit President Vladimir Putin and his cronies.
However, as the war reaches its half-year mark, officials across Europe are worried the consensus could fall apart as the continent enters a bleak winter of rising food prices, limited energy to heat homes and the real possibility of recession.
Western officials and diplomats spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity to candidly describe sensitive conservations among governments.
In a possible taste of more draconian measures to come, Berlin turned off the lights illuminating German monuments in order to save electricity, while French shops have been told to keep their doors shut while the air conditioning is on, or else face a fine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has captured the West’s imagination and put heat on countries to support his war effort, might find it harder to get the attention of his fellow European leaders as the conflict drags on.
“That may well be why Zelensky said he wanted the war over before Christmas, because the real issues will be getting the West to stick to its promises in the long run,” said Keir Giles, a senior consulting fellow at think tank Chatham House.
The winter fuel crisis is something that European officials and diplomats are thinking about daily, with Russia accounting for about 55% of Europe’s total gas imports in 2021.
European countries also have a thirst for Russian oil, with almost half of Russian oil exports going to the continent. The EU reportedly imported 2.2 million barrels of crude oil per day in 2021.
“Within the European Union, it will be very difficult and we must try to stick to our promise to cut off Russia when it comes to any profits from gas and other sources,” according to a senior European diplomat, referring to a deal struck between the EU member states to cut their use of Russian gas by 15%.
However, the agreement has been criticized for being voluntary, and officials fear that when push comes to shove, some EU countries simply won’t play their part.
Related: Read about Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines, which have been points of contention and sharpened the showdown between Russia and the West during this invasion.
Quoted from Various Sources
Published for: Mr Blow Up