With winter fast approaching, Europe finds itself in an energy crisis — and reliant on the tender mercies of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. It’s a self-induced disaster years in the making.

European energy prices are up more than five times from a year ago, as Asian consumption has risen and supply has tightened around the world. Russia supplies about half of the continent’s natural gas, which heats homes and powers industry. While Moscow is fulfilling long-term contracts, it is refusing significant spot gas sales.

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