With energy bills soaring in the country, about 70,000 demonstrators gathered in Wenceslas Square, Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, on Sunday to demand an end to sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis, which they blamed on the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Many members of the EU have seen similar displays of mass anger as the price of natural gas, a major source of energy in Europe, has rocketed 10 times the average price over the past decade and the current natural gas price in the United States.
But Europe has probably not experienced the worst of it yet. Russia, which accounts for about 45 percent of Europe's imports of natural gas, suspended its supply to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline last week, and with the Nord Stream 2 not yet operational, the EU has only had an intimation of the probable coldness of the yet-to-come winter.
The EU's blind joining of the US-led sanctions against Russia has not brought the latter to its knees, instead it has made the EU collateral damage in the US' proxy war against Russia. On the one hand, the acute shortage of energy has not only inflated commodity prices but also forced some countries, including Germany, to turn to coal, which they had been trying to phase out. The EU has also surrendered its hard-earned strategic independence to the United States, which has harmed the EU's interests as it has become more dependent on the US for security and energy.
As a result, they are not on an equal footing, and in almost all cases, it is the EU that has to compromise its interests to serve the US' narrow ends. That is being demonstrated by the Ukraine crisis. While the US is gaining tremendously from prolonging and escalating the crisis, the EU's suffering is increasing.
Reportedly, each liquid natural gas tanker that arrives in Europe from the US can earn about $100 million net profit on average for the US suppliers. Meanwhile, the US tells the EU the reason why the current sanctions have not worked is that they are not harsh enough.
True, Brussels has vowed to make adjustments to the EU's energy market, but it has few cards to play to plug the gap created by Russia suspending supplies of natural gas in the short term. And that ambition is similar to what the same group of EU politicians were saying just months ago when they were playing into Washington's sanctions trick without weighing the dire consequences the EU would have to face.
The EU countries should be aware by now that no matter how honey-mouthed Washington politicians may be about the value of the transatlantic alliance, the two sides diverge deeply in their attitudes toward economic globalization, multilateralism and global governance, and that dramatically shrinks their common interests.