The U.S. has a team on the ground in Ukraine to analyze the current energy and heating situation—and to try to figure out how the country will make it through its often brutal winter deprived of Russian gas. Bloomberg reports:
“We have a team in Ukraine looking at the immediate issues of this winter,” U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said yesterday at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. “The issues are, unfortunately, challenging.” Analysts are studying ways to heat homes with fuels other than natural gas, he said.Ukraine is bracing for the onset of winter, when temperatures at times drop below minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit), with Russian gas supplies shut off and energy infrastructure damaged by the fighting that’s engulfed the country’s easternmost regions. The fuel shortage has already limited access to hot water.
“Challenging”, here, is a euphemism for “no really good options.” With Ukraine’s economy circling the drain and a potential humanitarian catastrophe looming if the heat is not turned on, the pressure on Western powers will mount to help Ukraine pay its $3.1 billion in arrears to Gazprom, as well as the above-market prices Gazprom is insisting on to keep the gas flowing through the winter months. And all this money, of course, flows right to Putin and his cronies, and helps cushion whatever blow the sanctions are having. The costs of the West’s feckless Ukraine policy are going to be counted in dollars and cents soon enough.