Russian Aggression in Ukraine War Leads to Economic Consequences for Europe’s Energy Sector

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s weaponisation of energy supplies may have backfired on the dictator as European economies appear to be faring better than expected while sanctions batter the Russian economy.

While Russia’s curtailing of gas deliveries to Europe in the build-up to and during the war in Ukraine did send wholesale energy costs spiralling out of control, European countries are finally appearing to bounce back from the crisis.

Before Russia invaded Ukraine in mid-February 2022, Russian gas accounted for around 40 percent of its total supplies. Along with Putin’s deliberate move to withhold gas from the bloc, supply chain issues due to the war made matters worse for Europeans, who kept seeing their energy bills climb.

Retaliating to sanctions, Moscow’s later move to completely halt supplies travelling through the major Nord Stream pipeline that runs from Russia into Germany via the Baltic Sea added insult to injury and sparked serious fears of gas shortages this winter.

According to Berenberg Bank, for every maintained €100/MWh (£88.58) boost to the price, EU nations would need to fork out an extra €380billion (£336.5billion) a year — the same as 2.4 percent of Europe’s GDP or 4.5 percent of household energy use. But while it appeared as though Western sanctions were backfiring, European resilience now looks to be turning things around.

To combat the looming energy shortage, European nations raced to fill up their gas storage sites ahead of the winter, with impressive effect. European Governments also rolled out measures to soften the impact for their citizens and businesses with state subsidies, while households even took it upon themselves to slash consumption as prices soared.

Europe got 40 percent of its gas from Russia before the Ukraine war (Image: Express)

Meanwhile, the bloc scrambled to find alternatives to expensive Russian gas, while the EU unveiled its REPoweEU strategy, the blueprint to phase out Russian fossil fuels entirely by the end of the decade.

According to Professor Ben Moll of the London School of Economics, the impacts of Russia’s energy war games have been far less severe than originally feared.

He told the Financial Times: “The demand response was much larger and the economic costs were much smaller than many observers predicted earlier last year, in particular industry CEOs and lobbyists who predicted economic Armageddon if Russian energy were to stop flowing.”

Now, we are seeing that European gas prices have plunged to pre-Ukraine war levels thanks, in part, to warmer weather. The European gas contract for January dropped to €76.78 (£68.07) per megawatt hour earlier this month, the lowest price seen in over 10 months. before closing at a higher price of €83.70 (£74.20), according to the data company Refinitiv.

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