Europe’s energy war is heating up. The eu is preparing to boycott most Russian oil, starting from December. Russia, for its part, is curbing gas supply to Europe: on August 31st it halted flows through its biggest pipeline, citing maintenance. The confrontation has caused an energy crunch. Wholesale gas prices are nine times what they were last year; power prices, which are linked to gas, the marginal generation fuel, have soared.
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The crisis threatens to boil over in the winter, when huge bills could hit firms and people. Accordingly, European governments are staging defensive manoeuvres. Bruegel, a think-tank in Brussels, reckons they have allocated €280bn ($300bn) to cushioning the shock over the past year. Shielding tactics vary in kind, calibre and cost.
Many countries are softening the wholesale-price…