WSJ: 'Putin's Energy Price Squeeze' Threatens to Hit European Politicians Right in the Ratings
18:54 GMT 19.06.2022 (Updated: 19:03 GMT 19.06.2022)
European officials and media have blamed the Russian president for the biting inflation and skyrocketing energy costs plaguing their nations. The Russian leader has dismissed claims that he is responsible and expressed regret that the European Union has decided to commit “economic suicide” by artificially cutting off its access to Russia's energy.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “throttling” of the flow of natural gas supplies is threatening European leaders at the ballot box and may throw them or their parties out of office in the coming months, the Wall Street Journal has claimed.
The outlet pointed to Sunday’s heated final round of parliamentary elections in France, where President Macron’s La Republique en Marche is faced with the possible loss of its majority in the National Assembly to Jean-Luc Melenchon’s left-green alliance. After that are the regional elections in Lower Saxony, Germany in October, which could serve as a weathervane measuring Germans' approval of the Scholz coalition government’s performance. Italy, Europe’s other major economic power, must hold national elections no later than 1 June 2023.
All three countries have been hurting economically in recent months as inflation eats away at people’s savings, and energy prices pummel their respective publics.
19 June, 08:41 GMT
“The squeeze Mr. Putin is putting on European energy prices has already forced governments to ratchet up spending to soften the blow for consumers,” WSJ writes, pointing to Rome’s energy tax credits, and a $28 billion spending package put forward by Macron including natural gas and electricity price caps, and rebates for gasoline.
“We are seeing a profound disruption of the European economic model and there will be consequences for the region’s social and political situation,” Bruegel think tank senior fellow Simone Tagliapietra told the newspaper. “Germany and other countries built their economic power on the competitive advantage of having access to cheap Russian energy. They must rethink their business model and that will be challenging,” Tagliapietra predicted.
The observer warned that European countries’ push to increase government spending to try to soften the blow of higher energy prices is not sustainable, but that at the same time, the EU “will never get back to the previous energy relationship it had with Russia,” meaning the impact of the crisis “will be felt for a very long time.”
WSJ did not specify how Putin was responsible for “squeezing” Europe’s energy prices. It is the European Union that has pushed to try to sanction or “phase out” imports of Russian oil, natural gas, fertilizers (a resource-intensive resource) and other commodities, pushing prices already rising since last fall even further upward.
“They try to limit our fertilizers – prices rose, for them first and foremost, more than for us. They try to limit our energy resources – prices soared into the sky. They even named their inflation after me, but we have nothing to do with all of this,” Putin said, speaking at a youth forum last week. “I’m serious. It’s true that we have nothing to do with this – it’s the result of their mistakes,” he said.
9 June, 14:09 GMT
The Russian president emphasized that Russia would remain for business with any country that wants to do business. Those who opt not to trade with Russia for political reasons would only be “robbing themselves,” he suggested.
Putin expressed similar sentiments last month, calling European countries' decision to reject Russian energy “economic suicide” and predicting that the European Union would lose its competitive edge in the global economy.
“Today we see that for absolutely political reasons, due to their own ambitions and under pressure from their American overlords, European countries are imposing more and more sanctions on the oil and gas market. All of this causes inflation, and instead of admitting their mistakes, they are looking for the guilty party in another place,” Putin said.