Short note: Circuit Diversion.
Note: I’ve decided to include short notes on ideas I’m working on, that may or may not eventually become full-fledged articles. The Outpost is about speculation, after all, and brainstorms are its main language. By publishing them here, good intuitions do not become “lost in time, like tears in rain.”
It should be well established by now that Europe depends a lot on Russian gas, and this poses a strategic challenge (or opportunity depending on your side of the Atlantic. This problem isn't new: Ronald Reagan was already pressuring West Germany in 1981 to reduce its dependency on Soviet gas, which had been flowing across the Berlin Wall since the 1970s, the same as now. These tensions were somewhat diminished when Yeltsin shook hands with both Ronalds (Reagan and MacDonald's), but have always remained a point of contention within the Western World.
The LNG the US has been trying to push as a solution for its allies is complicated to use and requires massive investment in infrastructure: imported liquified hydrocarbon has to return to its gas form, which requires specialized terminals and new distribution routes stemming from them. Many countries building LNG terminals in the European coast expected to become "a regional energy hub" thanks increasing regasification capacity, the phrase becoming almost a meme in the writing of strategic papers. In Europe, only the Netherlands, the UK and to a lesser extent France have a significant autochthonous gas production, and even then, they require imports to face home demands.
With the Ukrainian War going on, African sources have been cited as a possible solution, thanks to both trans-Mediterranean ducts and LNG. An ambitious aim, as this African gas would have to account for about 40% of the gas already supplied. The development necessary for this will take years to be achieved, and it would seem that Russia is betting on it never truly arriving, wishing to retain its European quasi-monopoly. Or is it?
Man lives not on gas alone. Meaning you can't actually eat gas; you have to sell it.
The war threatens Russian sales, and I think it’s safe to say this isn’t unexpected to them: by engaging in it, they’ve pushed their buyers to their underdoggish competition, a very odd strategy… unless they become not the competition.
The Russian goal is not to thwart the arrival of gas to Europe and starve the bastards, but to control and manage the supply (for power and profit). All future interventions by Russia in the Sahel should be interpreted under this scope, especially after the European’s partial retreat from the area. Neo-Africa arrives from the Future, and it might speak Russian.
It seems, at last, the Southern and Eastern flank will finally become the same for NATO.