Accomplices in Capitulation
Olaf Scholz, the weakest European link in the trans-Atlantic alliance against Russia, has found a willing partner in Justin Trudeau. This will not end well.
When you cut through all the spin, the ill-informed equivocation and the outright deception surrounding the Trudeau-Scholz turbine bargain, what reveals itself isn’t just a betrayal of the Ukrainian people in their darkest hour. It’s a turning point, for the worst, in Ukraine’s struggle for survival. It’s the first big white flag on top of the wall of NATO sanctions against Russia.
It really is that big a deal. I was on about it in the National Post and the Ottawa Citizen last week.
This coming week, Conservatives and New Democrats will be going after Trudeau’s ministers at a special meeting of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. The Ukrainian World Congress is headed to Federal Court in an effort to block the deal. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke on Sunday. All Zelenskyy has said about the conversation was that he reminded Ottawa that sanctions against Russia must be “consistently principled.” If you believe Trudeau’s readout of the call, the subject of the turbines didn’t come up at all.
Today’s newsletter is intended to take a sharper scythe to the weeds you have to wade through to get at what’s really happening here, why it’s way worse than Ottawa is letting on, and why Ukraine’s Volodymor Zelenskyy is right when he calls the deal "absolutely unacceptable."
The first thing to do is get past the initial false impression Ottawa created to the effect that while Europe is trying hard to find alternatives to Russian energy, it is necessary to allow a single Seimens turbine in Montreal to slip through the sanctions wall. It would be a one-shot exemption to keep Russian natural gas flowing westward, in the short term, just for now, so that Germans didn’t freeze in the dark this winter.
Then it turned out to be a two-year arrangement involving up to six turbines, and the week before the deal was done German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the turbines weren’t even necessary to keep Russian gas flowing. “It would be good if they would be there, even though they are not necessary.”
The Kremlin had already half-closed its German natural gas spigot, and then the Nordstream 1 tap was closed completely for a ten-day “routine maintenance” operation that’s supposed to conclude sometime this week. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Bulgaria and Finland had already dealt with Russian natural-gas strongarming by the time it came to Germany’s turn, and they’d all told Russia: Keep your gas. We don’t give in to blackmail. Slava Ukraini.
The revenue losses the Kremlin has sustained as a result of Ukraine’s more trustworthy allies turning off the taps themselves have been made up by soaring prices. And if the Siemens turbines aren’t really needed to keep the Nordstream 1 pipeline full, why does Germany want them and why is Trudeau willing to let them through the sanctions wall?