It’s time to get this SCALED ball well and truly rolling. Let’s open with a hard-hitting shot.
On 4 May, the European Union posited a ban on Russian oil imports. Via Twitter, the President of the European Commission claimed it would ‘maximise pressure on Russia’ and assist Ukraine in repelling Vlad’s invaders.
The speed at which things are happening may startle you. Agreement was expected on Monday at an ambassadorial meeting of the 27 Member States. But, according to Bloomberg yesterday, Hungary is refusing to sign up.
Now, the Hungarians are famed for their ingenuity. Ciarán, one half of SCALED, was a sucker for British comedy panel shows in his teenage years. He recalls Stephen Fry, the witty host of QI, quoting his Hungarian father: ‘a Hungarian is the only man who can follow you into a revolving door and come out first’. Should we find this clever people’s reluctance to embrace the Commission’s (apparently popular) initiative surprising?
It’s worth noting that, according to the World Economic Forum, Europe as a whole is ‘heavily dependent on Russia’ for its oil as well as its gas. Over a quarter of European crude oil is Russian, and two-fifths of its gas. In 2021, the EU spent about $108 billion on Russian energy.
You don’t need Andrew, the money man here at SCALED, to tell you that’s a monumental sum. And yet, it doesn’t seem as if Russia will miss it terribly. In response to the EU’s threat of an oil ban, Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested turning off the gas as well.
Sure, Russia could be bluffing. According to yesterday’s Telegraph, an internal Kremlin forecast has warned of economic collapse as a result of Vlad’s so-called ‘special operation’. But we’re not giving ourselves an awful lot of time to weigh up the possibilities. Meanwhile, the US is sending emissaries in search of alternative fuel in South America, and India is relishing the prospect of a discount on Russian oil.
Finding new customers may not be a struggle for Putin. A picture emerges of other nations, both developing and developed, happily splurging on the fuel Europe refused to buy, while our US cousins snatch up supplies elsewhere. If so, is it Putin we’re harming, or ourselves?