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Dependence Day // The Russian Connection // House of Saud, House of Xi

Germany sweats Russian energy sanctions, western green groups alleged to have Russian ties, China and Saudi Arabia solidify relationship

It's Wednesday--halfway home. Here's what we're looking at today.

Dependence Day

Germany sweats Russian energy sanctions.

Robert Habeck, Germany's economic and energy minister, warned that without Russian oil and gas, he foresees “mass unemployment, poverty, people who can’t heat their homes, people who run out of petrol."

Tough words for any minister to admit, let alone one whose party, the Green Party, helped bring about these circumstances. Germany's pivot to renewables and away from nuclear energy, the Energiewende, has left the country energy-dependent. The Green Party, a member Germany's coalition government, was a major booster of the plan.

Now, Germany gets 55% of its natural gas, 52% of its coal, and 34% of its mineral oil from Russia. As the German economy groans under the stress of an energy crisis worsened by the war in Ukraine and with some of the skeletons in its closet coming to light, the Green Party faces a serious credibility crisis.

Habeck believes his country can at least move away from Russian coal by summer when the weather improves. That seems unlikely given that Germany was still razing villages to feed its coal fleet last year and that the German lignite coal company LEAG has just "accepted a loan of over five billion euros from state-owned bank KfW to cushion the impact of Russia’s war on Ukraine on energy markets." Regardless, keeping their nuclear fleet running remains off the table.

The Russian Connection

Western green groups' alleged to have Russian ties

Fox News Digital reports that Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., led a letter to Janet Yellen at the Treasury Department last Friday "that cites a 2015 Washington Free Beacon report that suggested the California-based Sea Change Foundation may allegedly be a conduit for Russian oil interests in funneling money to groups like the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Sierra Club and the Center for American Progress."

This isn't the first time this story has come up. A French report discovered similar findings.

Seven years ago, a NATO chief warned that he had "met allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organizations - environmental organizations working against shale gas - to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas.”

For their part, Sea Change has refused to comment, the NRDC, the Sierra Club, and the LCV have denied the allegations, calling them a "conspiracy theory." The Center for America Progress has claimed that this 2018 article has debunked claims of Russian ties..

Yellen and the Treasury Department have yet to comment.

House of Saud, House of Xi

China and Saudi Arabia solidify relationship

China and Saudi Arabia have grown closer of late. Saudi Arabia recently signed a deal for a $10 billion petrochemical facility in China. Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia invited President Xi to visit later in the year, a signal of the thickening ties between the two nations.

The relationship also bespeaks a change on the international scene. America's relationship to Saudi Arabia has become strained. The murder of Jamal Kashoggi, Biden's pledge to consider them a "pariah" state, and Saudi Arabia's refusal to pump more oil to ease America's energy pains underscore the ongoing tensions.

The two countries will likely continue to deepen their ties. A Saudi official told WSJ, “The crown prince and Xi are close friends and both understand that there is huge potential for stronger ties. It is not just ‘They buy oil from us and we buy weapons from them’.”

Recent events bear that out. After the Saudis said they'd consider using the yuan in some of their oil deals, the yuan leaped up. Potential for a multi-polar world hangs on the horizon.