Eurovision should be held in Ukraine says Boris Johnson
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His comments come as a report found Ukraine has enough energy reserves to replace Russia as “Europe’s battery” – but only military victory will allow the country to regain access to many of its biggest reserves in the east. France alone accounted for £900m of the £60bn ploughed into Moscow’s coffers by Europe for energy supplies since Russian troops poured over Ukraine’s borders on February 25th. A visit to Kyiv by French, German, Italian and Romanian premiers on Friday resulted in official support for Ukraine’s EU candidacy – a vital step in helping the country to modernise and regularise its energy sector.
Yet it later emerged that, as they publicly gave Ukraine the green light to begin to formally join the EU, President Emmanuel Macron, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and PM Mario Draghi privately urged Ukrainian President Volodomir Zelensky to seek concessions with Putin to hasten the end to a war which they blame for high inflation and economic turmoil in Europe.
In contrast Boris Johnson, who also re-visited Kyiv, pledged a major new military training programme that could “change the equation of this war”.
On his return to Brize Norton he said: “The worry we have is that a bit of Ukraine fatigue is starting to set in around the world.
“It is very important to show that we are with them for the long haul and we are giving them that strategic resilience that they need.
“It would a catastrophe if Putin won. He’d love nothing more than to say ‘let’s freeze this conflict, let’s have a cease fire like we had back in 2014’. For him that would be a tremendous victory.”
According to the Council on Geostrategy report, the EU has continued to ignore mounting warnings that Russia could weaponise its energy supplies by paying more than £1 trillion to Russia since 2012 in return for fossil fuels.
While there has now been movement by Berlin and Paris to ban Russian oil imports, gas is still very much off the table.
Two weeks ago the Sunday Express warned that “Ukraine Fatigue” by some European capitals was already threatening to leave Putin – who already controls the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant which generates 20 percent of Ukraine’s electricity – in control of some of Ukraine’s vital energy reserves.
Ukraine has Europe’s second largest gas reserves – around 1.1 trillion cubic metres – and holds equivalent to 27 percent of the EU’s gas storage capacity. It also has abundant wind and solar resources that can be better harnessed and exported to the EU, amongst other capabilities.
Helping Ukraine to push back Russian forces is not only the moral thing to do, it is also the best thing for Europe’s long term energy security, said the report’s co-author James Rogers.
“Ukraine fatigue has been embraced as a strategy by Germany and France. It is now being utilised for political purposes,“ he said.
“It’s important to hold European- and especially German – feet to the fire. It is revenues from energy sales that have enabled Russia to become so powerful, and its regime so entrenched.”
He added: “As our report shows, Ukraine can certainly help to replace Russia. There are significant untapped reserves, and much potential for development of the renewable sector and use of gas storage which can be used to export gas through existing pipeline infrastructure, Excess renewables can be converted to hydrogen and exported to be used like gas.
“What Germany and France should be doing is giving Ukraine the resources it needs not just to survive but to thrive, in the same way that the US and Canada provided Britain with the weapons and financial support to get the job done at the start of the Second World War.
“It all depends upon Ukraine’s ability to win the war or, at the very least, push Russia back to pre -February lines.”
Yesterday, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova declared that it was “no longer possible” for Ukraine to return to its previous borders, adding: “The Ukraine that you and I had known, within the borders that used to be, no longer exists.”
Italian energy conglomerate ENI was the first in Europe to take advantage of legal loopholes to pay Russia for gas in rubles, following advice from the European Commission.
But on Wednesday Moscow once again decreased supplies, citing “technical problems” for cutting deliveries by 60 percent and raising prices further.
Dr. Benjamin L. Schmitt, who recently testified in Congress about the importance of replacing Russia as Europe’s main energy supplier, said: “Russia has weaponised everything, from energy and food supplies to space, where it has launched its anti-satellite weapons. This was all intended to undermine Western response. More could have been done much more quickly in response to the invasion were Europe less dependent on Russia’s natural gas.”
Dr Schmitt, Senior Fellow at the Centre for European Policy Analysis, added: “Western democracies really need to understand that this is just the first phase of what is likely to be a long and protracted conflict between Western democracies and authoritarian systems.
“Leaders need to be frank with their electorates, and tell them that they need temporary sacrifice so that they are no longer dependent on autocratic nations for critical infrastructure and energy , because this not only undermines national security but also our latitude to respond to aggression when it happens.
“Ukraine has the resources it needs to become the battery of Europe, with the integration of its electric grid with the EU, deployment of renewables, and its massive gas storage facilities .
“It can shift from a transit country for Russian energy to the EU, to a storage country which can supply Europe.
“But Russia will have to be dealt with first, and that requires serious commitment from Germany, France and other Western European nations. “
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