Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Russia’s ‘Sarcastic Advert’ Warns Europe Over Rising Gas Prices; Netizens Say Russians Got Humor Too

With a glass of champagne in hand at an awards ceremony at the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin justified his missile strikes on Ukraine and vowed to continue the fight. This is the latest assertion from Moscow that the war is far from over.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and the ongoing war have rattled the entire world and sent shockwaves in the global economy. People worldwide are dealing with inflation at levels not seen in many years as the cost of necessities like food, heating, transportation, and housing rises.

One of the significant causes of concern worldwide, especially in Europe, is the soaring gas and oil prices and an impending energy crisis. Much of the European Union is dependent on oil and gas supplied by Russia.

To add insult to injury, a video surfaced on social media mocking or rather indirectly warning Europe of inflation and the impact of the continued war in the region.

The advertisement begins in what’s shown to be parking in Europe in 2023. As it progresses, a middle-aged working man, typically returning from work with a briefcase in his hand, approaches his car and sits inside it.

As he turns on the ignition of his car, the fuel points towards exhaustion, and a funny song fills the background. The man opens the car’s sunroof, and a horse is seen dragging the vehicle.

The advert ends with a message that reads, “Dear Europeans, Switch to Alternate Transport,” in the most direct Russian jibe at the Europeans in weeks.

The Russian advertisement teasing the Europeans comes when the two sides are locking horns on oil and gas prices. Russia is the second largest producer of crude oil after Saudi Arabia and an inalienable member of the oil-producing nations called the OPEC+ that decides on oil production outputs.

The war in Ukraine has necessitated cuts in output as prices soared worldwide. This, in turn, has provoked the western states to negotiate a price cap – a possible red line for Moscow, which has filled its coffers from selling energy products to the estranged Western world.

The Politics Of Gasoline

Earlier, the Group of seven countries, the European Union, and Australia imposed a price cap on Russian seaborne crude oil ta $60 a barrel.

The Russian President retaliated by saying that his country would not accept these conditions. “As for our reaction, I have already said that we simply will not sell to those countries that make such decisions,” Putin told reporters in a news conference in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek. “We will think, maybe, even about a possible, if necessary … reduction in production,” he said.

Last month, Saudi Arabia had categorically stated that OPEC+ was resolute on oil output cuts and could take further measures to balance the market amid falling prices, denying a report it was considering boosting output. This has, of late, become a bone of contention between the West and the Riyadh kingdom and has triggered a price cap row.

While crude oil price was quickly agreed upon despite some reservations by Poland, the European Union is yet to find common ground for capping gas prices. The European Central Bank has expressed concern about the potential threat to financial markets from an EU-wide cap on natural gas prices.

putin russia oil
File Image: Vladimir Putin

While Belgium, Italy, and Poland see it as a method to shield consumers and economies from the shock of high energy costs, several states, notably Europe’s largest economy Germany, have rejected the idea of any cap because they claim it could make it more difficult to secure supply. A final decision has been slated for a meeting to be held next week.

Gas prices have increased this year due to Russia, a major gas supplier, invading Ukraine in February. However, they have decreased from the record highs hit in August as European countries stocked up on winter supplies to guard against a shortage.

As per Putin’s admission, the long war will only worsen matters. After Ukraine launched an attack on Russian air bases, a fresh spate of missile strikes has been launched targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and necessitating more military aid from the West.

Against that backdrop, Russia’s sarcastic advertisement aims to deliver a subtle warning to the European Union.

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