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Ukraine’s fate may rest on a mild winter

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Russia is once again relying on ‘General Winter’. Instead of freezing German advances on Moscow, the plan today is to freeze German pensioners in Berlin. Western sanctions are crippling the Russian economy, driving up inflation and unemployment. In turn, Russian restrictions on gas are driving energy prices in Europe through the roof. Putin’s gamble is that Russia’s willingness to bear economic hardship is higher than the West’s.

By winter, Europe could find itself in a literal cold war. Russia is currently throttling gas flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which is operating at just 20 per cent capacity. Restricted supply is driving energy prices up across Europe, while the threat of further disruption has driven European governments to commit to large-scale reductions in gas use. Forecasts from the Swift Centre put the probability of a cut-off at around 30 per cent; not necessarily likely, but too high to be comfortable.

The economic effects of a shutdown would be immediate, as would the political consequences. Without Russian gas, German's foreign minister Analena Baerbock has suggested, 'we won’t be able to provide any support for Ukraine at all, because we’ll be........

© The Spectator

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