The gas cut-off by Russia has given rise to tremendous hue and cry in the European world. Russia’s being gas supplier Gazprom’s decision to cut off its supply to Ukraine led to serious controversies regarding the decision of this company which was argued as an injustice but all efforts went in vain as Russia held its supremacy. In this paper we will discuss the main conflict between the two nations Russia and Ukraine leading to European gas crisis and put forth an opinion regarding the issue.
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Once again Russia, taking advantage of its geopolitical position stands strong and its decisions regarding gas supply policies have impact not only the neighboring countries but left the European union clueless about how to deal with the gas crisis. Although it is uncertain whether it is a political or business move, it is marred Gazprom’s reputation as a reliable gas supplier. My opinion is not based on the recent conflict between Russia and Ukraine only but it is the outcome of considering the events that led to the second cut-off of gas to Europe through Ukraine in the past three years. A state of emergency was declared in many countries in the Eastern Europe as they are totally dependent on natural gas for heat and electricity and Russia is the biggest in the region which in fact dictates its foreign policy through gas price mechanism. For example, in Bulgaria, the lack of sufficient gas reserves brought industrial activity to a halt and this lead to contemplate reactivating decommissioned nuclear reactors. Finally, the crisis came to an end when a successful agreement was reached.
The two nations Ukraine and Russia agreed on a fixed price of gas for Ukraine which was 20% percent more than the price offered to the European nations. This was not a favorable outcome for Ukraine, as it would now pay more than twice as it previously did. I believe Europe should conduct a thorough reevaluation of relations with both Russia and Ukraine and establish a stable energy policy. Alternate supply channels should be considered like the Nabucco Pipeline project which would provide an alternative to Russian gas.
The United States should play a crucial role and provide the international support to the weak Russian neighbors like Ukraine. If not, Russia will continue to use its gas reserves as a wedge to isolate Ukraine. A key element of U.S. policy should be international energy security and solidarity. Ukraine should be able to demonstrate that closer ties with the West will benefit its independence and foreign policy. A well-planned financial structure is also needed in order to secure loans for the billions of dollars of investments to help Ukraine to develop alternative sources of energy and increase efficiency in consumption (Hutchins 2009).
In the conclusion it could be clearly understood that repeated incidents of Russia halting its gas supply to the Eastern Europe could be devastating in the long run if Russia decides to impose its foreign policy on these countries. Therefore, as long as Russia remains a dominant energy supplier, it will remain extremely difficult for Ukraine to attain freedom from Russian gas monopoly.
List of References
Hutchins, M. (2009). Russian Gas Crisis Should Inform U.S. Policy. [Online].