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CNN host Fareed Zakaria criticized the Biden administration and European countries Sunday for allowing themselves to become dependent on Russia for gas and oil. His remarks came during his opening monologue on his eponymous weekly show, Fareed Zakaria GPS.
“It is now clear that the economic war against Russia is not working nearly as well as people thought it would,” Zakaria said.
“Vladimir Putin cares less about what these sanctions do to the Russian people than he does about what they do to the Russian state. Thanks to rising energy prices, Bloomberg projects the Russian government will make considerably more revenue from oil and gas than it did before the war, around 285 billion in 2022 compared to 236 billion in 2021,” he continued.
Zakaria called the West’s economic war against Russian President Vladimir Putin “toothless” and said the U.S. and Europe are over-reliant on Russia for energy.
“The basic problem with the economic war against Russia, as I have argued before, is that it is toothless because it cannot sanction all Russian energy. The Russian economy is fundamentally an energy economy,” he said.
“Revenues from oil and gas alone make up almost half the government’s budget. And unfortunately, the solution would not be for the West to stop buying Russian energy altogether because with less supply on the world’s market, it would only drive prices even higher,” Zakaria continued.
“Having developed a dangerous dependence on Russian energy over the last two decades, Europe cannot quickly change that without plunging into a deep and protracted recession,” he said.
Zakaria also expressed similar concerns regarding Germany’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia as President Donald Trump did during a 2018 NATO summit. During the summit, Trump told NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that the pipeline makes Germany “totally controlled” and “captive to Russia”.
“On July 11, the pipeline through which Germany gets most of its Russian gas, is scheduled to close for maintenance. It is possible that Putin will decide to punish the West and Germany by not letting it reopen,” Zakaria said regarding the same pipeline. “If so, Germany, Laura Europe’s largest economy will almost certainly go into a recession.”
“Putin’s strategy appears to be impose costs on the West and then play for time assuming that cracks in the coalition against him will grow as economic pain in these countries grows,” Zakaria said.
“Western countries are still not treating this challenge as a paramount priority. The Netherlands has a huge gas field, but it is actually slowing down production. Germany still will not reverse its self-defeating phaseout of nuclear energy, the Biden administration is still making it harder to finance long-term investments in natural gas and oil,” he continued, while criticizing the administration for not being able to restore the Iran nuclear deal, which he believes would “bring an enormous influx of new oil supplies onto the world market.”
“The priority has to be to defeat Vladimir Putin,” he concluded.
Joe Biden has been criticized for his oil policies, including by United Refining Chairman and CEO John Catsimatidis who said that there is a “war by Washington on North American oil.”