Not since the 1970s oil crisis has the west seen such a focus on energy security. Suddenly in 2022 it became a critical part of the battle for Ukraine. Russian attacks on energy facilities have left millions of Ukrainians without power during a freezing winter.

Since it couldn’t force a quick, decisive win onto Ukraine, Russia shifted its strategy to attrition, specifically targeting energy infrastructure. Nighttime photographs of Ukraine now show a dark territory akin to images of North Korea. The theory is simple: freezing populations stop supporting the defending troops and scorched earth makes Ukraine less attractive for post-war investment, weakening western support.

This strategy is not new. Vladimir Putin’s regime had been using selective gas supply cuts as a pressure tool against Ukraine since at least the winter of 2005-06, when EU gas supplies were also affected – a first signalling of Moscow’s willingness to use energy as a geopolitical tool.

US governments had long warned about over reliance on Russian gas, but the EU, and especially Germany, had expanded imports from Russia over the past decade.