Russia's European Occupation

Despite the alarm caused by threats to European energy supplies in January 2006 and January 2007, the Europe Union has done little to counter growing dependence on Russian gas and oil. Moreover, as Keith C, Smith argues, in the absence of strong and unified European action, Russia is unlikely to open its energy resources to foreign investment and subject them to international trade rules.

When Gazprom, Russia’s natural gas monopoly, cut off supplies to Ukraine and Georgia in January 2006, the move was widely seen as a clear warning of the Kremlin’s willingness to use its energy resources to exert political influence over Europe. Twelve months later, Russia drummed home the significance of that act by shutting off oil supplies to Belarus for three days, causing a ripple effect on shipments to Western Europe.

Despite these supply-side threats, there have been few signs of an effective European Union-wide policy that would reduce dependence on Russian energy. The European Commission’s energy proposals, issued in January, are a step in the right direction. But they will have little direct effect on Russia’s energy relations with Europe, because they do not oblige Russia to adopt more competitive and transparent energy transport and investment policies.

On the contrary, European countries continue to forge bilateral deals with Russia, with little consideration for common EU interests. The West European EU members have shown scant concern over Russian pressure tactics against the new members in Central and Eastern Europe, calling into question the extent of EU solidarity regarding energy supplies. Since the Kremlin interrupted energy supplies to the Baltic states in 1990 in a futile attempt to stifle their independence movements, it has continued to use pipeline politics against countries such as Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania – all new EU members. For them, and for new democracies like Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, Russian energy dominance and its political consequences remain a serious threat.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/KM2qSyW;
  1. Patrick Kovarik/Getty Images

    The Summit of Climate Hopes

    Presidents, prime ministers, and policymakers gather in Paris today for the One Planet Summit. But with no senior US representative attending, is the 2015 Paris climate agreement still viable?

  2. Trump greets his supporters The Washington Post/Getty Images

    Populist Plutocracy and the Future of America

    • In the first year of his presidency, Donald Trump has consistently sold out the blue-collar, socially conservative whites who brought him to power, while pursuing policies to enrich his fellow plutocrats. 

    • Sooner or later, Trump's core supporters will wake up to this fact, so it is worth asking how far he might go to keep them on his side.
  3. Agents are bidding on at the auction of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi' Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

    The Man Who Didn’t Save the World

    A Saudi prince has been revealed to be the buyer of Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi," for which he spent $450.3 million. Had he given the money to the poor, as the subject of the painting instructed another rich man, he could have restored eyesight to nine million people, or enabled 13 million families to grow 50% more food.

  4.  An inside view of the 'AknRobotics' Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    Two Myths About Automation

    While many people believe that technological progress and job destruction are accelerating dramatically, there is no evidence of either trend. In reality, total factor productivity, the best summary measure of the pace of technical change, has been stagnating since 2005 in the US and across the advanced-country world.

  5. A student shows a combo pictures of three dictators, Austrian born Hitler, Castro and Stalin with Viktor Orban Attila Kisbenedek/Getty Images

    The Hungarian Government’s Failed Campaign of Lies

    The Hungarian government has released the results of its "national consultation" on what it calls the "Soros Plan" to flood the country with Muslim migrants and refugees. But no such plan exists, only a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign to help a corrupt administration deflect attention from its failure to fulfill Hungarians’ aspirations.

  6. Project Syndicate

    DEBATE: Should the Eurozone Impose Fiscal Union?

    French President Emmanuel Macron wants European leaders to appoint a eurozone finance minister as a way to ensure the single currency's long-term viability. But would it work, and, more fundamentally, is it necessary?

  7. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now