The West should end its ‘addiction’ to Russian energy to stop Vladimir Putin’s ‘blackmail’, Boris Johnson says


British Prime Minister Boris JohnsonAdrian Dennis/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

  • Putin invaded Ukraine because he “knew that he had created an addiction” to energy, Johnson said.

  • He called for the West to take the “painful” step of abandoning Russian energy imports.

  • It came as Johnson wrestled with his pledge to reduce UK carbon emissions.

Vladimir Putin has been allowed to “blackmail” the West because of its “addiction” to Russian oil and gas, Boris Johnson said, urging Western nations to push on with the “painful” act of abandoning it.

Writing in the Daily Telegraphthe prime minister said the UK and its allies “made a terrible mistake” with the muted response to Putin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea because “we let him get away with it”.

Ahead of the publication of a new energy security strategy, Johnson said the West should “take back control” of its supply to avoid being “at the mercy of bullies like Putin.”

He said this should include relying increasingly on green energy such as wind and nuclear.

Johnson wrote of Putin: “When he finally came to launch his vicious war in Ukraine, he knew the world would find it very hard to punish him. He knew that he had created an addiction.

“That is why he feels able to bomb maternity hospitals. That is why he is emboldened enough to launch indiscriminate assaults on fleeing families. And as his bombs fall, the cost of oil and gas rises still further, meaning less money in your pocket and more in Putin’s.

“We cannot go on like this. The world cannot be subject to this continuous blackmail. As long as the West is economically dependent on Putin, he will do all he can to exploit that dependence. And that is why that dependence must – and will – now end.”

But Russia’s strength in energy exports also makes it vulnerable, Johnson argued, saying that Putin has “virtually nothing else” beyond his nation’s vast fossil-fuel reserves.

In words directed at allied countries, Johnson acknowledged that cutting off Russian energy imports would be “painful” and “difficult” — a reference to looming price rises if Russian energy were excluded from the market.

But, he said “this strategy will not truly work unless everyone does it”.

Johnson’s intervention came amid a growing mutiny on from MPs in his own party over his enthusiasm for green energy. A group of Tory MPs recently formed the climate-skeptic Net Zero Scrutiny Group to oppose this agenda.

Led by Craig McKinlay, MP for South Thanet, the group is focusing on the difficulty of increased costs to consumers from more expensive energy.

Some of those MPs pushed for Johnson to get rid of his “woke” advisers, including Henry Newman, who has since left Number 10.

In a veiled address to this group, the prime minister said: “Our ambition to go for net zero is not the problem. Renewable power – which is getting more efficient the whole time – is a crucial part of the solution.”

Even MPs who are on board with the prime minister’s net zero ambitions have told Insider it will not be sufficient to make up for the throttling of existing supplies.

One senior Tory said the government was “living in denial” about the urgency of the situation, noting that the UK would suffer a knock-on effect as the European Union looked to diversity its energy supply.

“Tea [fuel crisis in the] 1970s only lasted 18 months but we could be on the cusp of a 20-year Cold War. This is going to make the COVID shortages look like peanuts.”

Read the original article on Business Insider


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