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George Washington University

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Program Name

Switzerland: International Studies and Multilateral Diplomacy


Europe has always had an interesting relationship with Russia, be it social, political, or economic. From the days of the Cold War, when there was the ideological battle of communism versus capitalism, with the alliance of NATO representing a front against the Iron Curtain, certain remnants of this dynamic have still survived. Russia has not always had the best of relations with the European Union (EU), which has not made it easy for the EU to have fully functioning foreign relations with them. This is problematic specifically because of the importance that Russia has on EU energy security, as it is the largest supplier of both gas and oil to the EU. Gas in particular is a difficult issue, as Russia controls a vast amount of pipelines going to Europe that not just carry Russian gas, but also Caspian gas to the EU gas supply market. This created the situation that Russia has become empowered with one of the key elements that the EU requires for economic growth – natural energy resources. The 2014 Ukraine Crisis was a reminder to the EU of this power that Russia holds, after Russia increased gas prices to Ukraine by more than 40%. While Ukraine is not part of the EU it did present an energy security threat. For the past decade the EU has been implementing new energy policies that are primarily directed towards energy security and energy diversification – of both the source of energy as well as the type of energy. Efforts at executing this policy have been made, and new hydrocarbon discoveries in the EU’s neighboring regions of the Caspian and the Levant Basin are helping to provide alternatives to a Russian dominated gas supply market. Given the tensions that are being felt across Europe right now with the Russian annexation of Crimea, there could not be a better time for the EU to turn towards its allies and neighbors in hope of an increased energy security in the future.


Economics | Growth and Development | International Economics | Oil, Gas, and Energy | Other International and Area Studies