In 2018, German government officials war-gamed a massive natural-gas shortage. With the real thing looming, the lessons are sobering. Some hospitals, nursing homes and jails were forced to close; companies shut; livestock was left to die; hundreds of thousands of jobs vanished; rationing for households was imposed, according to the official account of the crisis-management exercise.
In just a few weeks, Germany will face the same dilemma that Poland and Bulgaria encountered a few days ago: pay for Russian gas on Vladimir Putin’s terms, effectively breaching European sanctions, or see the Kremlin close the valves.
Going “cold turkey” on Russian gas sounds like a brilliant political slogan, but the reality is untold economic damage for Germany. Let’s not sugarcoat it: The recession will be brutal. Reading the lessons of 2018 and talking to those who participated in it, I would not want to be in Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s shoes.
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