There’s a great article on Breitbart under the headline, “Europe Puts Scruples Aside, Imports Record Levels of Russian Liquid Natural Gas.” Let’s spend a moment on this story.
This is the same Europe that is allegedly working with America to boycott Russian oil and gas and to stop assisting Vladimir Putin’s war finance machine. Right? We’re all working together.
We’ve allegedly closed down the Russian central bank and we put tough sanctions all over the Russian economy — including, allegedly, sanctions on Russian oil companies and their funding banks. Remember all that?
More recently, the EU has agreed with Secretary Yellen’s $60 price cap on Russian oil. Of course, China and India never signed on to that one, and they've become Russia’s biggest customers.
Have I missed anything? Oh, yeah, a few Russian yachts were seized, maybe even Mr. Putin’s. Yet Russia keeps fighting.
The Ukrainian freedom cause is just. The idea that the great Western democracies insist on sovereign national borders and the rule of law is a noble one. Yet maybe oil and economic sanctions haven’t worked as well as many people had hoped.
Back to the Breitbart story: It turns out that imports of LNG to the European Union and Britain from Russia rose by 21 percent over pre-war levels. Mind you, not natural gas sent through pipelines by Russia — this is liquefied natural gas. There’s a big difference.
So, here are some more numbers: Between January and November of this year, Britain and the EU paid Russia nearly 27 billion euros, or the equivalent of $28 billion. Here’s the killer: The Kiel Institute has found that the EU has collectively sent 29 billion euros in military and financial assistance to Ukraine.
So, in round numbers, Europe is sending about as much assistance to Russia via its LNG imports as it is to Ukraine to defend its freedom. Does that make any sense? Of course not. It smacks of unbelievable hypocrisy.
By the way, the numbers could be even bigger, because China re-sells Russian gas back onto the world market. So it’s possible that Russian-origin LNG bought by the EU could be even more — and the payday to Vladimir Putin that much larger.
Of course, several years ago, the Trump administration begged Europe, especially Angela Merkel’s Germany, to build LNG terminals. She was in her big green mood and never did it.
So of course the Germans wound up producing coal and burning wood to try to keep warm last winter — two well-known renewable fuels. (That was a joke.) The real joke is how dumb they were.
Now, I know a country that has a lot of liquefied natural gas. I mean, a lot. Like, probably, a couple hundred years’ worth of it. This country not only makes the cleanest natural gas, it makes the cheapest liquefied natural gas. Stuff that would beat Russia’s prices on the open market.
I know this because I was one of the Trump administration officials, along with Rick Perry and Dan Brouillette and Wilbur Ross, trying to sell LNG to all of our European visitors. Some of these sales panned out, but we never got a large-scale development that would really help Europe during the Ukraine war and beyond.
While it’s true that some of the European greenies have reclassified natural gas as a clean-burning renewable fuel, which makes them a lot smarter than our dumb left-wing greenies here, the fact is the numbers don’t lie. Europe is buying LNG from Russia like it’s going out of style, and Russia’s making tidy profits from these sales, which is still financing its war machine. It kind of makes a common-sense person shrug his or her shoulders and ask, “What’s up with this?”
By the way, the Biden administration has done everything it can to block fracking and permitting and refining and the building of new LNG terminals. That’s right.
Out in California, there’s President Biden’s friend, Governor Newsom, who wants to end gasoline-powered cars and is mandating electric vehicles. Yet he’s got an electricity problem because of the lack of natural gas, so if you own an EV, you’re sometimes not allowed to power it up with electricity.
Lately, Mr. Newsom has said he wants to slap a windfall profits tax on fossil fuels, and don’t think the Bidens in Washington wouldn’t love to do the same if they thought they could get away with it.
Finally, in my conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu last night, we talked about how Israel has discovered huge natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean. Not only is that going to make Israel energy independent — which is a heck of a thing in the middle of the Gulf State Middle East — but Israel could bail out Europe by sending its natural gas via pipeline or liquifying it. That is, if the Europeans would let them.
Moral of the story, as far as I’m concerned: The U.S. and Europe wouldn’t be in this fix if they’d kept the fossil fuel spigots open.
If oil were down around $40-$50 per barrel, where it was during the energy-independent Trump years, Mr. Putin wouldn’t have ever had enough money to wage war. If we were producing 15 million barrels a day with virtually unlimited natural gas and pipelines and refineries and LNG terminals, we wouldn’t have to worry about OPEC+ either.
At $100 a barrel, though, Mr. Putin becomes a madcap conqueror with all that energy money. Crimea, Belarus, Ukraine, you name it. At $40-$50 a barrel, he stays home riding his brown horse with no shirt on.
It boggles my mind how we let these left-wing radical greenies put us in a mess that never should’ve happened in the first place.
From Mr. Kudlow’s broadcast on Fox Business News.
Larry Kudlow was the Director of the National Economic Council under President Trump from 2018-2021. His Fox Business show "Kudlow" airs at 4 p.m &. and his radio show airs on 770 ABC from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.