In an interview with the International Policy Network, Andrei Illarionov, a former policy advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin, says that Europe's very freedom is at stake if it continues on its current course in energy policy:
"It is no surprise that Europe is facing a cold, dark future deprived of energy. In recent years, many European leaders have been obsessed with energy rationing. They intentionally have demonised energy production and use. They have claimed that hydrocarbon energy is too cheap and demanded a carbon tax. They have adopted the Kyoto Protocol -- and cajoled Russia into joining," said Illarionov.And the weapon that's going to be wielded is Russian natural gas. We know Finland understands. We know Tony Blair understands. Does anybody else? Thanks to John Ray for the pointer.
"Now that the bear of state interventionism and central planning is out of its cave, the Russian authorities are effectively offering the energy rationing so desired by European leaders. They shouldn't be surprised: this 'chilly war' is exactly what they have worked so hard to secure," he continued.
Illarionov suggests that the response, or absence of response, by Western leaders to actions by the Russian authorities -- including violation of individual rights, disregard for freedom of speech, and aggressive behaviour towards democratically-oriented former Soviet states such as the Ukraine, Georgia and Maldova -- has effectively led to a "chilly war" between Russia and the West.
"What we see now is a great battle unfolding in front of our eyes, one with implications similar to those of the Cold War. It is a battle not predicated on military, political or economic power. It is about the fundamental institutions that define western civilization -- the market economy, liberal democracy, the rule of law -- and the moral standards and values underlying these institutions," said Illarionov.
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