Russia-Europe Energy Relations

Implications for U.S. Policy

In this report, the author argues that the national security risks posed by Russian energy policies are only tangentially related to Europe’s dependency on Russian energy imports. The primary energy risk to Europe, and especially to the newer EU members, stems from the corrosive effect this dependency has on governance and on transatlantic cooperation. Moscow’s divide-and-conquer tactics have successfully prevented greater inter-European cooperation on both economic and security issues. And these factors have added to already existing strains in the U.S.-Europe relationship. Further NATO enlargement has been stopped, in part, due to Moscow’s energy ties with the wealthier Western European states. It is in the U.S. interest to assist those Eastern and Central European (ECE) states that are highly dependent on Russian energy imports and are most susceptible to imported corruption. Kremlin officials, supported by 60 percent of Russian public opinion, favor reestablishing Soviet-era control or influence over ECE countries. The threat to the sovereignty of these new democracies cannot be dismissed.

Keith C. Smith