Round two with Putin will be savage – & cold

by MÁTYÁS TEMESFŐI – THE Ukraine-Russia situation paints a grotesque picture from a European viewpoint. 

Like many, we are watching it unfold on TV. The loud bangs from billions of dollars worth of equipment seem somewhat distant. But there is another fight going on which is much closer to home.

For us in Europe, this boxing match is not entertainment. This fight is business and we’ve gambled heavily on the outcome.

While the embers of a hot war smoulder in Europe’s eastern corner, Mr Putin and his Western counterparts are now pulling on their gloves as they prepare to trade punches in a second round of economic boxing.

All as a cold winter sets in.


Of course, for us, this boxing match is not entertainment. This fight is business and we’ve gambled heavily on the outcome.

It’s a pity, though, that our access to accurate information is scant. It’s a bit like watching a broken telly – just sound and no picture.

Even though we hear the punches land and the echoing voice of commentators, we are barely seeing the fight.

The outcome of the previous round was debatable. While we believe Russia took a few hits, the severity differs depending on where we navigate with our remote control.

We hear differing voices.

Some say that the Russian bear just eats the punches dealt by the West, while others claim he is already crumpled in a corner, reaching into his pocket for an illegal weapon within.

The European Union and G7 countries now prohibit Russian crude oil imports by sea and have agreed on a price cap of US$60 a barrel, a policy aimed at Moscow’s other customers.

December has rung the bell for this second round and it now seems Russia has a chance to show that the sanctions are not a one-way street.

In response to Western sanctions, Moscow has stated that it does not recognise any price cap – and that they will not deliver oil to the sanctioning countries.


Oil and gas are written large on the red gloves of Mr Putin – and he is approaching the blue corner.

We know too well that the EU’s economic powerhouse relies on Russia for nearly half its gas and about a third of its oil.

But, before we assume that EU residents will freeze to their radiators and that their station wagons will be left thirsting for fuel this winter, there is an upside to consider.

The gloves of each adversary in this match are poorly padded – and each hit hurts the dealer of the blow as much as the recipient.

Europe may be reliant on Russia when it comes to the fossil fuels, but Russia’s economy is dependent on European currency.

Cutting oil from the EU would require Mr Putin to find new markets for 1.1m barrels of crude each day, according to the International Energy Agency.

With regards to gas, Europe has historically accounted for some 40 per cent of Russia’s winter gas production.

This figure has now fallen to about 12 per cent, according to data from the Independent Chemical & Energy Market.

Europe has turned to Uncle Sam for liquified gas to stockpile supplies.

Gas in liquid state, however, is expensive to store and ship, especially compared to the direct “tap” from Russia.

As for now, there is no doubt that price caps, embargoes and Russia (possibly) slashing production is destabilising the energy market, making prices unpredictable and painful.

What remains uncertain, though, is how much this might negatively impact Kremlin revenues.

As for the boxing match analogy, we are not witnessing a Tyson fight with a knockout in the first two rounds.

There’s a long way to go in this intense brawl – and it will most likely end in a split decision.PC

Mátyás Temesfői

MAIN PHOTOGRAPH:  Vladimir Putin. (courtesy Newsweek)

2 thoughts on “Round two with Putin will be savage – & cold

  1. Historically speaking, there is nothing you Europeans enjoy more than killing each other. Give is a break, please. Someday we won’t turn up to help.

  2. Thankyou for such an insightful perspective. You are correct, while our local media continues to cover the Ukraine war – for us, it is distant.
    We really only hear about Putin and Zelensky – and very little about the people bearing much of the hardship.

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