Europe no longer needs Putin for their energy supply
It has almost been a year since Russia invaded Ukraine and Europe has been standing in solidarity with the country, trying to help them in any way they can. Much to the dismay of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Who tried to blackmail the continent on energy, to get them to stop supporting Ukraine. But it seems that his attempts have failed.
Before Russia launched missiles on Ukraine on the 24th of February in 2022, 83% of the gas exported to Europe came from Russia. The continent also heavily relied on Russia for other materials like fertilizer and metals. And when the war in Ukraine started and Putin stopped the supply of gas, the intent was to cause Europeans to turn on their leaders. All to make the European leaders withdraw support to Ukraine, which in turn would benefit the Russian President. But that is not what happened.
Because 46% of the total gas supply in Europe came from Russia, it seemed like Europeans were in for a cold and dark winter. But it turns out that Europe might not need Russia as much as Russia needs Europe.
One of the reasons why Putin’s plan backfired, is because Europe experienced a really mild winter this year. That means that less people relied on gas to heat up their houses. Because of the mild winter, Europe never ran out of gas and according to Fortune, several utilities could refill their storage sites for gas. That creates a buffer for coming winters.
Because of the high prices of gas, a lot of people cut back on their use of gas and electricity. And when you use less, you need less. Fortune reports that governments lowered the use of heating and lighting in public swimming pools and gyms. Individuals tried to lower costs by taking shorter showers, insulate their homes and reducing the use of their heating. Because of the lower consumption of gas, an energy breakdown was avoided and Europe didn’t rely as heavily on Russia for energy anymore.
When your biggest supplier of gas and energy cuts you off, you have to come up with alternatives. And so, Europe did. Norway filled the gap and became the continents biggest supplier of gas in 2022. Another alternative that countries invested in, is natural gas. Because of these alternatives, factories stayed in business and people could warm their homes during the colder days.
Even though the war and the crisis is not over yet, this is a small silver lining to the whole situation.