North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned his fellow Europeans that the continent will undergo trials as it supports Ukraine in the midst of an energy crisis.
Russia severed natural gas flow through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline last week, citing mechanical issues as the country continues its invasion of Ukraine. While top ministers in the European Union float policies such as a price cap on Russian oil and a solidarity contribution from fossil fuel companies, Stoltenberg encouraged his fellow Europeans that supporting Ukraine is worthwhile in an opinion piece for the Financial Times.
“Our unity and solidarity will be seriously tested, as families and businesses feel the crunch of soaring energy prices and costs of living caused by Russia’s brutal invasion,” Stoltenberg wrote. “We face a difficult six months, with the threat of energy cuts, disruptions and perhaps even civil unrest. But we must stay the course and stand up to tyranny — for Ukraine’s sake and for ours.”
Nations in eastern Europe such as Estonia, Latvia, and Poland have contributed aid to Ukraine worth between 0.5% and 1% of their gross domestic product, according to data from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. Other nations, such as the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, have contributed less than 0.25% of their economic output, while Germany — the largest economy in Europe — has contributed 0.08%.
“We are preparing more than a dozen new projects to help Ukraine face the winter,” Stoltenberg continued. “We see the decisive difference our support is making on the battlefield every day. The Ukrainian army has proved its ability to resist Russian aggression, strike back deep behind enemy lines and impose significant costs on the invading forces.”
The United States has sent nearly $10 billion in military assistance to Ukraine as of early August. According to one report, roughly 30% of the aid has not arrived to the front lines as various Ukrainian factions used equipment as political leverage.
With respect to the energy crisis compelling multiple European countries to impose regulations for thermostat and appliance usage, Stoltenberg said that the economic calamity will help Europe to “break free of Russia’s energy blackmail for good.”
“We do pay a price for our support to Ukraine. But the price we pay is counted in dollars, euros and pounds, while Ukrainians are paying with their lives,” he remarked. “And all of us will pay a much higher price if Russia and other authoritarian regimes believe they can invade their neighbours and trample on international law with impunity.”
Several member nations of the European Union, which abides by the official policy of becoming “a climate-neutral society” by 2050, heavily regulate fossil fuel production even as they gradually close remaining nuclear plants. In addition to the severance of Russian natural gas shipments — which Russian President Vladimir Putin said will continue as long as fulfilling orders contradicts the nation’s interests — low hydropower capacity emerging from drought conditions has impacted the continent’s electric grid, according to a speech delivered last week by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
In a departure from other European officials, however, British Prime Minister Liz Truss reversed the nation’s ban on fracking and proposed a return to oil and gas drilling in the North Sea following her succession of Conservative Party lawmaker Boris Johnson last week. “Energy policy over the past decades has not focused enough on securing supply,” Truss told the House of Commons. “All of this has left us vulnerable to volatile global markets and malign actors in an increasingly geopolitical world.”