Vladimir Putin uses energy exports for leverage. Europe needs to develop strategic defences
Many European leaders are praying for a mild winter. A cold one would complicate the unfinished battle with Covid and, more awkwardly, drive up demand for the natural gas that fires power stations and heats homes. Since much of that gas comes from Russia, a fall in temperatures brings a rise in Kremlin leverage.
The connection between the current energy pinch and Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy is not all extortion, as some of the Kremlin’s critics claim, but nor is Russia an innocent bystander. Gas markets are more complex than a tap that Mr Putin turns on and off. But Russia’s closest neighbours, Ukraine in particular, know from bitter experience that energy exports are used by the Kremlin for strategic bullying.