US fears Russian energy games could fracture European resolve on Ukraine
Against the backdrop of rapid growth in energy costs, support for the sanctions pressure on Russia in Europe may weaken
CNN has written about this.
"Putin's bet is that he's going to be tougher than the Ukrainians and the Europeans and the Americans, that he can wear down the Ukrainians, strangle their economy," CIA Director William Burns said.
Europe, including the UK, is already feeling the effects acutely, with energy bills skyrocketing and leaders warning that the continent could face electricity blackouts in winter depending on how low temperatures drop. "The electricity market is no longer a functioning market because there is one actor, Putin, who is systematically trying to destroy it and to manipulate it," CNN quotes the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.
The US made significant efforts to ensure the supply of gas to European countries. White House officials insist that they did not notice visible divisions in Europe, and that they anticipated the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to them, this only strengthens the determination of the European allies.
Already, other US officials are saying that there is a real risk that rising electricity costs and approaching winter could affect the EU population. One example is the recent protests in the Czech Republic. Thus, people can start to oppose the sanctions policy of the EU and further aid to Ukraine.
"A few weeks like this and the European economy will just go into a full stop," Belgium's Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said in a Bloomberg interview this week. "The risk of that is de-industrialization and severe risk of fundamental social unrest."
Russia "definitely wants to make Europeans nervous - energy is their biggest tool to turn the European public against war," a source close to Western intelligence told CNN. However, he said, if the winter is mild, gas reserves already above benchmarks may be sufficient to prevent widespread shortages.
But that's far from a guarantee, that person said. As EU leaders scramble to adopt new measures to freeze or cap energy prices and deploy billions in new financial assistance and liquidity, the presence of a crisis that could spill into economic calamity is palpable.
"It's going to hurt Europe," this person said. "Let's see how harsh the winter is."