die Menschen

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is furious with Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has exempted six Siemens Energy turbines, which were serviced in Montreal and help deliver gas to parts of Germany, from sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. Germany needs to fill its storage tanks before winter, and these turbines are crucial to receive Russian natural gas via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. 

Under pressure

The pressure from Germany and many European countries on Canada must have been intense. If Germany can’t get enough natural gas, industry would be severely curtailed, the economy would stall, and in the worst-case scenario, people could ‘freeze in the dark’. At least that’s what the Canadian and German governments are claiming.

Düm and Glüm

It’s all doom and gloom from European politicians and business leaders. Gas prices are sky high, inflation is rising rapidly, and grain shortages caused by the war in Ukraine threaten millions of people with starvation. Feeding the flames by increasing the ability of Vladimir Putin to blackmail Europe with natural gas makes absolutely no sense. Don’t forget that gas revenue finances Putin’s illegal and unjustified war.

It’s an insult to the Ukrainian people who have died and are dying for the freedom of Europe. Are Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, SAP and Bayer more important than the lives of human beings? As a Canadian or German citizen are you okay with this? Perhaps there’s a better way to approach this difficult decision, and just two months ago I did exactly that.

die Menschen

In May I was in the middle of a five-week European trip and the war was still very fresh in people’s minds and hearts. There was enormous support for Ukraine absolutely everywhere. Regular citizens with Ukrainian flags in their windows, rooms available for refugees, volunteers operating blue and yellow support centres in all airports and train stations. 

Ask the question

Being curious, I asked everyone I met what they thought about the war in Ukraine and how they think their governments should respond. Every single person, and I spoke with hundreds of people, said – without a moment’s hesitation – that the EU should stop the importation of Russian oil & gas completely and immediately. This was in May 2022.

I then asked, “Would you be willing to pay 30 or even 50% more for gas and utilities if that’s the result of cutting Russia off?” The answer was always, “Of course, I must pay more because I can. The Ukrainian people are fighting for my freedom, so it’s the least I can do.” I was astonished. My faith in humanity was renewed. 

I know that the geo-political ramifications of Putin’s terrible war are likely beyond my comprehension. I also know that my informal poll is far too small & simple.

Instead of foreign policy decisions made by the few, based on the health of national economies, perhaps politicians should consider asking their people a simple question: Would you turn down your heat a few degrees to save your neighbors’ life?