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Ukraine’s war against Russia is a war against dictatorship, against fossil fuels and for our independence. At last week’s G20 leaders summit, ostensibly democratic India — the G20 host — gave the aggressive petrostate Russia the floor but failed to invite Ukraine — a worrying sign.

Today, the active involvement of many G20 countries in the development of Russian oil and gas projects and related infrastructure poses dire consequences for democracy and peace in the world. The lack of response to this from democratic G20 members — including Canada and the U.S. — raises concerns about the future of democracy.

The rise of petro-fascism in Russia shows how autocratic leaders can use oil and gas revenues to consolidate political power, execute state capture, boost propaganda and maintain control over the population, sacrificing hundreds of thousands of citizens’ lives as cannon fodder and engaging in mass killings of civilians in the attacked country.

To try to replace its former European gas customers, Russian officials are making every effort to engage G20 countries in joint venture infrastructure projects. Russia's gas industry can make up for lost production volumes in the next five to seven years if it restructures gas supply routes, finds new buyers in Asia and expands its gas infrastructure with new pipelines and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals.

Last year, the international response to Russia's war against Ukraine launched unprecedented sanctions on Russian fossil fuels, restricting imports and exports, and establishing a price limit. These measures negatively affected Russia's economy. But western democracies succumbed to the interests of the oil and gas industry, repeating grave mistakes once again.

Some countries and regions — such as Canada, Australia, the U.S., the U.K. and the European Union — responded to the gravity of Russia's violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and grave human rights violations by imposing an oil price cap and sanctions on oil and oil products. Others, like Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, have not adopted any sanctions. Their national companies continue to co-operate with Russian ones.

Against the backdrop of loosening oil and gas sanctions, Russia’s economy has grown slowly but steadily since spring. According to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Russia's GDP dropped by 2.1 per cent in 2022. Experts from the IMF pointed out that after a steep decline in the second quarter of 2022, Russia’s economy recovered in the third and fourth quarters. Forecasts show Russia's GDP is expected to increase by 0.7 per cent in 2023 and 1.3 per cent in 2024.

The IMF notes that improved external trade performance and sustained oil exports led to record oil-and-gas profits and supported the economy last year. Provided with cash from oil and gas exports, Russia owes its economic growth mainly to the massively increased production of weapons and ammunition.

French energy giant Total Energies, which also has extensive business in Canada, announced $11.5 billion in profits in 2023. The company continues its trade of Russian liquified gas and maintains shares in joint ventures with Novatek, the largest private gas producer in Russia. The French fossil fuel firm is the second largest buyer of Russian LNG this year, purchasing over 10 per cent of the country's shipments from the Yamal LNG terminal, which Total partly owns.

The active involvement of many G20 countries in the development of Russian oil and gas projects and related infrastructure poses dire consequences for democracy and peace in the world, writes @SvitlanaRomanko. #StandWithUkraine

Total Energies also facilitates further expansion of Russian LNG by participating in another joint venture with Novatek, Arctic LNG-2. The Arctic LNG-2 project is the largest LNG infrastructure expansion project in Russia, with many international engineering companies involved. It can unlock production at new gas fields in northernmost regions, where ecosystems already suffer from devastating impacts of climate change, and will lead to massive emissions of methane into the atmosphere.

increased supplies of Russian LNG pose a potential threat to the EU’s energy security. The EU's LNG imports from Russia are rising. Should this trend continue through the second half of this year, EU clients would receive around 20 billion cubic metres of gas, equivalent to the capacity of one line of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. The only difference is these supplies come from Novatek, a company owned by a close friend of Russia's President Vladimir Putin. The sale of LNG via Novatek will continue to provide income for the Russian elite.

Countries with significant fossil fuel reserves, such as oil and gas, can become heavily dependent on the revenue generated from their extraction and export. The dependency on fossil fuels can weaken institutions and hinder the development of diverse economies, corrupting politics and facilitating state capture. The same relates to those countries overdependent on imports of oil and gas.

The G20 host, India, falls in the second category. Canada falls in the first.

Following the hottest summer on record, Canada needs to take a close, hard look at its energy sources. Canada must actively join the effort to triple renewable energy and double energy efficiency — a goal agreed to in the G20 Leaders Summit Declaration released last Saturday. Canada must work to diversify its economy, not lock in fossil fuels that damage our climate, weaken democracy and fund wars.

Svitlana Romanko is the founder and director of the Ukrainian organization Razom We Stand, which grew out of the successful #StandWithUkraine campaign to end the global fossil fuel addiction that feeds Putin’s war machine. Romanko launched and co-ordinated both groups once the Russian war against Ukraine began. She has been an environmental lawyer for over 20 years and a high-impact climate justice campaigner for a decade. In 2022, Romanko was awarded the Rose Braz Award for Bold Activism. She holds a PhD in environmental, natural resources, land and agrarian law, and a doctorate in climate change law, climate governance and climate policy. She worked for and the Laudato Si Movement and has been a senior consultant for a Just Green Recovery and Green Deal in Eastern Europe.

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Wow. It makes one wonder which specific sanctions against Russia are actually effective.

Waging this war is horribly expensive. One standard observation is that Russia has lost its industrial capacity to replenish the armaments Ukraine has destroyed. Russia routinely suggests peace talks will work. But that will allow Putin to keep its territorial gains while building up its military industrial complex and start waging war again in a few years. Trading land for peace is essentially caving to Putin's extortion.

This story also highlights the fact that Russia is as dependent -- or even more dependent -- on Western technology and expertise as the EU is dependent on Russian oil and gas.

This is a war against democracy. Russia must be driven out of all Ukrainian territory and Ukraine must be given the tools to keep it out. Underming this effort by accommodating fossil fuels, whether through maintaining dependency on them or especially aiding and abetting the expansion of Russian fossil fuel production, is an expansion of autocracy and, in this case, crimes against humanity.

Canada sends aid and weapons to Ukraine. It has imposed sanctions on Russia. Total is in Canada, but is not a major player per se, not like American companies. It pulled out of Alberta's oil sands. This is not to say it won't come back, but I'd say it's in Canada's best interests to pursue renewables at full speed before renewables decimate fossil fuel demand worldwide, including in Canadian oil and gas export markets.

Any talk about Russia having lost its industrial capacity to replenish armaments may be "standard observations" but they are also, unfortunately, not true. That's the problem with war propaganda--it never just demonizes the opponent, it's also addicted to sunny claims that can give a false picture of reality. Then you're blindsided by events.

And the reality is that both industrial production and pace of attrition favour Russia, mainly because they started with (1) multiple times as much artillery as Ukraine, and (2) an air force. That initial advantage allowed them to maintain and even expand it, by targeting Ukraine's artillery and their few aircraft. Ukraine scores a fair number of kills with HIMARS and drones, but the HIMARS are just too small volume to impact the overall situation much, and Russia is having equal success with drones, which it is now manufacturing in large numbers. Meanwhile, NATO's war production has for decades been dedicated to low volume, high-value-per-unit materiel; it's not really mass production as we know it in the civilian sphere. As a result, Russia is producing more stuff--maybe not quite as good stuff as NATO top-end, but solid and effective and Ukraine is mostly getting NATO older-generation, not top-end.

In reality, Ukraine is losing people and materiel at a horrible pace. Currently they are spending them to gain territory, but it's a lot of people for a little territory, and it's unclear how long they can keep it up, or what happens once they've spent so much that they're stretched thin across the front with few remaining reserves.

I do think the one basic claim of the article is true--fossil fuels tend to promote fascism, and other kinds of authoritarianism. We see it in the Middle East, where we have these horrible autocrats suppressing everyone's political rights along with various other rights of women, anyone with the wrong religion et cetera et cetera. We see it in Canada, most obviously Alberta, and in the US, where fossil fuel interests have had a significant hand in sponsoring the rise of the fascist alt-right. And in Russia, yes. And in various African countries, where oil companies have backed authoritarian regimes. I think it's something about the combination of really high profit with centralized production.

"fossil fuels tend to promote fascism, and other kinds of authoritarianism." With Alberta as a local example, including, especially, "government capture". Good to see this, even if it was at the end of the comment.

Russian forces did indeed and still do outnumber Ukraine's. Ukraine, however, was able to learn very fast under the motivation of protecting the very lives of their families. Russia has no such motivation in the minds and hearts of the soldiers in the trenches. In fact, they have run low on experienced military and are relying on very poorly trained conscripts with low morale in the form of "human waves," a Russian war tactic used since before Catherine the Great. It's no secret that vodka plays a role too.

It has been documented by independent sources like Oryx (which cuts through the propaganda and relies on actual field counts) that the biggest contributor of tanks to Ukraine is not NATO, but Russia. Many were abandoned in the field by fleeing Russian soldiers, or were damaged only enough to be abandoned but reclaimed by the UA for repairs and use to support the frontlines in favour of the opposite side than intended.

The evidence also points to the fact that 19 months of terrible conflict has been the best teacher. The UA is now one of the best and smartest armies today. They had to be. They have routinely outsmarted the Russians on strategy, not on sheer numbers or strength. This is evidenced in the loss of too many Russian military generals and other top leaders. Right now it's a grind only because the Russians had a year to dig in. But the Ukrainians are puncturing the heavily reinforced lines after first damaging the Russian's supply lines and command centres. On of the first strategies Ukraine used was to limit the use of their few planes, and move them far away from the front. They are still used, though; the latest episode was outsmarting the Russians in Crimea and retrofitting the old USSR built planes with NATO cartridges to carry NATO missiles that take out radar from long distances.

Lastly, Russia does not make high quality microchips that are used in high tech military and oil field equipment. They rely on washing machine chips and smart phones with GPS access duct taped to the jet plane's console. Their labour force is decimated, not just with conscription but with war attrition and a half million young men who simply left the country last year. Russia makes cheap drones. So does Ukraine now.

This is to say that the balance is getting closer to even, but there is still a year or two left before the war has been concluded. The momentum in not in Russia's favour now. Rebuilding Ukraine will be another topic, but yes, bringing in a massive set of renewable energy options should be a major part of that.

We can afford our passivity here on the other side of the world, but the values Ukraine has decided to not just assume, but give their lives for, are ours: democracy. They are worth defending.

Sorry for the grammatical mistakes. No edit button......

So Russia is winning 'friends' [or at least customers to finance its war] around the world by selling them LNG - and the writers response is 'we should do the moral thing and kill our LNG industry.'
Realpolitic says that we have nothing to trade for 'friendship' if we do not offer what these 'friendly' countries want, i.e. LNG and guns. When someone decides to play hardball against you, the sensible thing to do is hit back harder - unless one wishes to be steamrollered into submission and servitude. The Ukrainians seem to understand this.
If countries are going to burn Russian natural gas in their own perceived self interest, Canada, in the self interests of the West, should supply that natural gas to displace Russian gas, until such time as their new 'friends' self interest persuades them to switch to alternative energies. Then, and only then, can we sell them alternative energy products.

The REALLY sensible thing to do would be to help them install renewable energy, with generous terms. Three birds with one stone--we help the countries involved, we help save the planet, and we destroy the market for Russia's natural gas.

You know how it's a crime back in Canada to bribe foreigners? Maybe it could be a new crime to help them spew carbon. Yeah, it's legal when we do it; but a lot of foreign-affairs laws work that way.