The West’s response to Russia’s six-month war in Ukraine has remained strong and largely united – to the surprise of many.
The transatlantic alliance managed to unite to provide financial and military support to Kyiv, reach agreements to stop using Russian energy and implement sanctions aimed at hitting President Vladimir Putin and his cronies .
However, as the war reaches its six-month mark, officials across Europe fear the consensus will crumble as the continent enters a dark winter of rising food prices, limited energy to heat houses and the real possibility of a recession.
Western officials and diplomats spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity to candidly describe the sensitive conversations between governments.
In a possible foretaste of more drastic measures to come, Berlin has turned off lights illuminating German landmarks to save electricity, while French shops have been told to keep their doors closed as long as the air conditioning is on or face a fine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has captured the imagination of the West and pressured countries to support his war effort, may find it harder to capture the attention of fellow European leaders as the conflict s eternalizes.
“Maybe that’s why Zelensky said he wanted the war to end before Christmas, because the real problem will be to make sure the West keeps its promises in the long run,” Keir said. Giles, senior consultant at Chatham House think tank.
The winter fuel crisis is something European officials and diplomats think about daily, with Russia accounting for around 55% of Europe’s total gas imports in 2021.
European countries are also thirsty for Russian oil, with almost half of Russian oil exports to the continent. The EU would have imported 2.2 million barrels of crude oil per day in 2021.
‘In the European Union it will be very difficult and we have to try to keep our promise to cut Russia off from any profit from gas and other sources,’ top EU diplomat says, referring to deal reached between EU Member States to reduce their consumption of Russian gas by 15%.
However, the deal has been criticized for being voluntary, and officials fear that when things do happen some EU countries will simply not play their part.
Related: Learn more North stream 1 and North Flow 2 pipelines, which have been points of contention and sharpened the strong test Between Russia and the West during this invasion.