The worst has happened – Russia has gone to war with Ukraine, and after the growing death toll, what makes this an even greater travesty is that it could have been avoided a long time ago. But Europe’s and the US’ greed for fossil fuels didn’t just allow it to happen, but is a central factor. In 2021, Russian LNG made up 20% of Europe’s LNG imports. In November 2021 alone, the United States imported approximately 17.9 million barrels of crude oil and petroleum products from Russia. In May 2021 the US imported 26.2 million barrels of crude oil from Russia, its highest ever import volume in the period of one month.
It was only after 137 Ukrainians were killed at the end of Thursday, and thousands of protesters had to taken to the streets of Moscow and other cities, that US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed more severe sanctions on Russian banks and fossil fuel companies. Prior to this, it was just threats. But did Russia ever pander to these threats? Of course not, because it knows that at the end of the day, Western countries will want to continue benefiting from its fossil fuel resources.
For example, in the Angoche Basin in Mozambique, ExxonMobil, the 5th largest US company, has a joint concession with Rosneft, the Russian state-owned oil company to explore for fossil fuels. That joint venture was agreed upon in 2015, after many many years of US threats of sanctioning Russia. This venture will likely not be affected by these sanctions, since ExxonMobil is a private company.
If the US and its allies had really wanted to, they could have contributed to the prevention of this war much earlier. One hundred and ninety Russian troops had been stationed along the Ukrainian border for months, the result of years of spoken threats. But, no, Western countries wanted gas and they wanted it now, regardless of the implications. Their threats of sanctions on Russia were a joke considering they were benefiting Russia’s economy for years by purchasing its gas. Even after the promises made at COP26, they continued to invest in this fossil fuel which trumped their lying rhetoric of going to any lengths to protect their own people, and the population of Ukraine against what they call in public, the monster that is Russia. Europe and the US are not just hypocritical, but complicit in the destruction of entire cities, arrests of protestors and deaths of civilians, the number of which we can only hope, will not grow.
Just like in many violent and fatal conflicts around the world, fossil fuels have contributed to this devastation. The world needs to stop using fossil fuels when there are more than enough sources for renewable energy to keep the world turning. Gas and oil are not just killing the earth and the climate – from the Ukraine to Mozambique, Tanzania to Venezuela, fossil fuel companies are killing innocent people, ruining communities and pushing economies into deep debt. No more fossil fuels! No more war!