Source Global Times

BEIJING, China--After more than 70,000 protesters filled Wenceslas Square in the Czech Republic to express their anger over soaring energy prices, more people living in Europe are taking to the streets to protest against their governments for putting Ukraine ahead of their own residents' livelihoods.

Some residents reached by the Global Times expressed their worries about a severe energy crisis in the coming winter and complained that they are the ones who are paying the price for their governments' political strategies, which have been kidnapped by values and ideology.  

Some said that protests in the Czech Republic and the scattered protests in Germany and France may be just a beginning. More began to step out of their instinctive sympathy for Ukraine and gradually realized that they themselves are swallowing bitter pills for their governments' "political correctness" strategy to follow the US to sanction Russia.

"Me and my pals are organizing protests… We are fed up with the government giving away our money to the capitalists… who are running the energy sector… we are also fed up that our country will be giving 100 billion euros and 2 percent of the GDP to the military for future wars against Russia or China," Tim P., a German student from North Rhine-Westphalia, told the Global Times.

Since Sunday, many people in different cities, including Dusseldorf, Berlin and Cologne in Germany, took to the streets to protest against energy prices and Berlin's refusal to launch the Nord Stream pipeline, calling for a ban on weapons exports to Ukraine.

Tim said that the rise of gas bills has been really severe in Germany while the government has not put forward a useful plan.

The "relief" plan of the German government gives a one-time payment - 200 euros ($198) for students and 300 euros to workers in Germany - but his energy bill surpasses 200 euros, which means the money offered by the government will not help at all.

"By increasing energy prices, the money finally goes back to the pockets of capitalists in the energy sector," Tim P. said.

In July 2022, the average wholesale electricity price in Germany surpassed 315 euros per megawatt-hour, nearly four times the price recorded a year earlier, according to the website, a world-leading statistic database.

Not only Germany, but also people who live in many other European cities reached by the Global Times also complained about the increasing energy prices and inflation problems. For example, in the UK, natural gas prices rose nearly 96 percent in the year to July, while electricity prices were up 54 percent.

Jimmy Zhao from Paris told the Global Times that the increasing gas price has severely affected many people's lives. "Those who relied on the minimum wage of 1,600 euros for a month cannot afford to raise their children, even with the government's subsidies… the soaring gas bills, prices for daily necessities… all have made their lives harder."

Liu Man, a Chinese student who studies in Paris, gave the details of price increases. "The electricity bill has increased more than 40 percent and the cooking oil, which was sold for three euros, now costs more than four euros… although the local government offered subsidies to low income families, it is far from enough."

The current energy crisis and soaring gas bills may be just the beginning as it is hard for many European countries to fix their gas shortages, given their continuous sanctions on Russia over the conflict with Ukraine, and many European politicians and analysts have warned of a very bad winter for not only residents of Europe but also the economies.

Fu Jialiang, a Chinese student who now studies in Aachen, Germany, said the university has sent emails to students about saving energy, including suspending heating systems in buildings or rooms that have fewer people and suspending heating systems for running water to wash their hands.

Fu also noted that many German residents had complained that the government was "putting Ukraine in the first place, instead of taking care of its own residents," and some said that the German government only cares about how to help Ukraine and never thought that Germans may freeze to death in this winter.

Tim from Germany said that they organized the protest to demand Germany leaves NATO and stops taking part in "imperialistic wars against other countries" because "a military not built to protect the people but the exploitation of resources in Africa and the Middle-East is a waste of money" and this money could have been used for "more important things like school, education, health care and feeding those who can't even afford a decent meal."

At the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, many European and US people just made an instinctive emotional response to support Ukraine, which in their governments' narratives is the vulnerable one and the victim, said Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies.

But as the conflict continues, people grow more rational and practical over the issue as they get engaged in the conflict more and more deeply, and they start to feel the actual consequences of the European and US' sanctions against Russian, Cui told the Global Times.

Vzglyad, a Russian newspaper, pointed out in an article published on Monday that a conclusion can be drawn from the recent protests in Europe that people here are beginning to recover from Russophobia, as many are demanding their governments lower prices and stop supporting Ukraine.

The European and US governments take actions based on their political interests rather than the interests of the people. The EU is making several mistakes because it is imposing sanctions without doing the proper analyses before. The EU and the US simply "demanded" that those countries join in sanctioning Russia, without being clear on what basis, and now their people are paying the price, observers said.