OPINION: Russia is a winner on all fronts as soaring natural gas prices afflict Europe and Asia, triggering an increase in coal and oil consumption.
As government coffers become replenished, Russian authorities have ample funds to further President Vladimir Putin's ambitions.
This agenda apparently includes supporting a crackdown on political freedoms and opposition leaders at home, but also building up military power.
Russia can also afford new loans to neighbour Belarus, which has become a Kremlin-backed belligerent, prone to baiting Poland and Baltic countries. Now members of the Nato military alliance, these nations are considered de facto foes by Moscow.
With predictions of oil prices going above $100 per barrel this winter, Russian export revenues are set to rise further.
The flood of oil and gas money can offset any seen or unseen costs of wielding natural gas as an geopolitical weapon, even as the risk of provoking reactions from western European leaders grows stronger.
Russia clearly has no plans to supply extra gas this winter, with Gazprom failing to book any additional pipeline capacity to Europe for December and the first quarter of 2022.
Nor does the Kremlin do much to hide its cynicism about the energy transition, despite Russian pronouncements of support for global efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Seen thus, growing oil and gas revenues mean the Kremlin has more cash to intensify its supposed efforts to discredit green agendas and destabilise democratic values.
Western leaders will have little option but to stay alert, and prepare their responses accordingly.
(This is an Upstream Opinion article.)
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