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Liam Denning

Putin Would Be Crazy to Cut Off Europe’s Gas. Or Desperate.

The Russian president might find a way to rationalize a decision to halt exports, even if the consequences for his economy would be dire.

Rational actor?

Rational actor?

Photographer: Alexey Nikolsky/Sputnik/AFP

A fairly common view expressed since Russian President Vladimir Putin unleashed his forces on Ukraine is that he has come unhinged. If he ever follows through on his threats to cut off natural gas supply to Europe, I might be inclined to agree.

Invading Ukraine is a horrific act, and also entirely irrational. Even if Russia’s troops were performing better, the price Russia will pay in economic terms alone seems to vastly outweigh the benefits of embarking on a lengthy and likely draining occupation of a large neighboring country.