So what can the EU do? First of all: Show the Russians that we don´t just look the other way. Germany´s chancellor Angela Merkel meets president Dmitry Medvedev on Friday. She and other European leaders should make clear that they refuse to discuss anything else with the Russian leaders than the war as long as bombs are raining down. If that doesn´t help, the EU should look at possibilities of freezing Russian assets abroad that might help them to wage war.
Would Putin and Medvedev respond by using the gas weapon? Let them. It´s the kind of weapon that can only be used once by turning it off. Now they use it all the time, as a threat that keeps the whole of EU in a state of fear and cowardice. Let´s call their bluff.
Norberg may very well be correct, although I think this is a difficult issue. A no-reaction policy from the West would boost the confidence of the Russian leaders that they can do as they please and expand their sphere of interest. An overly strong reaction might weaken the good forces in Russia and push us closer toward a Cold War-like condition. I’m not sure what the correct course of action is.
Strategically Europe should move away from Russian gas. Getting it turned off now would be costly for some countries (including Germany, I believe), and I doubt that they are willing to risk it, but either way continued dependence is likely to be a heavy burden to bear. It is true that turning the gas off means losing substantial revenue for Russia as well, but I don’t know if the amount is big enough to make the threat empty.
As I said earlier, this is a worrying situation.
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