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Russia’s energy policy. Dependence, networks and special relationships

  • 18 Nov. 2020
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  • Last updated: 18 Nov. 2020 17:36

NDC Research Paper 13

Introduction

This Research Paper has two central questions. First, is Russia using natural gas as an instrument of power to influence NATO member states in Europe? Second, if so, then how is it being used to influence their foreign and domestic policies? For NATO, this is an important question because energy supply disruptions can cripple not only military mobility and operations, but also the economic well-being of member states. While a strong economy is not solely dependent on natural resources, without access to them, the industries and economies that support the military are left vulnerable. Under the right conditions, severing access to (or manipulating the cost of) vital natural resources can have significant economic, social, political and even national security consequences. For NATO, this was clearly demonstrated by the oil crises in the 1970s. The notion that nation states, if given the opportunity, will use economic statecraft to address defense and security disputes is not new. But understanding how petrostates, such as Russia, leverage their neighbors’ energy needs for political ends is still a developing topic. Understanding the subtle intricacies of this issue is needed in order to: 1) moderate growing disagreements among Allies and Partner Nations in regard to Russia-NATO relations; and 2) avoid the perception that the Allies no longer share a common vision for the Euro-Atlantic security community.

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