Russia's Great Gas Game

The primary goal of Russian gas policy isn’t economic, but political, namely to further the aim of revising the post-Soviet order in Europe – a quest that is directed mainly at Ukraine. De-regulating the EU gas market and reducing Russia's importance as a transit country for ex-Soviet producers would hold that ambition in check.

BERLIN – Russia and the European Union are geopolitical neighbors. Whether or not their relationship is in fact neighborly, rather than tense and confrontational, is of critical importance to both.

Unless it modernizes its economy and society, Russia can forget its claim to status as a world power in the twenty-first century and will continue to fall behind both old and newly emerging powers. Moreover, Russia needs partners for its modernization, because its population and economic potential are too small for it to play an important role by itself in the emerging new world order. Russia’s strategic nuclear weapons will be insufficient to ensure it a place among first-rank powers.

But where can Russia turn? Towards East Asia? To the south and the Islamic world? Neither of these is a serious option. As it is, Russia can turn only towards the West, and to Europe in particular.

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