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The Hour of Truth: The Conflict in Ukraine - Implications for Europe's Energy Security and the Lessons for the U.S. Army

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Technical Report

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A large part of Europe, especially Eastern, Northern, Central, and South-Central Europe including the Balkans, has been dependent on Russian natural gas since the Soviet times. Little changed with the breakup of the Soviet Union as Russia was no longer perceived as a strategic adversary. Moreover, Russias dependence on gas sales in Europe as a source of important revenue for the state-owned Gazprom was considered a guarantee against the use of gas supply as a strategic tool by Moscow. However, a dependence on the Russian energy supply resulting from a system of pipelines built back during the Cold War has increasingly proved to be a disrupting, negative factor in European energy security. This dependence already has negatively manifested itself several times throughout the region and has a potential to massively disrupt European military, economic, and humanitarian situations if a substantial andor prolonged interruption of the gas supply occurs. The ongoing hostilities in Ukraine demonstrated the adverse effects of the continuing dependence on Russian gas and on the top Russian national leaders who call the shots on the Russian supply. In view of supply interruptions and threats to cut the vital shipments of gas, Russia can no longer be considered a stable and reliable supplier. Moscow has a track record of using its gas monopoly not only as a means to extort disproportionately high prices for Western consumers, but also as a means of exerting political pressure to diminish U.S. influence in Europe and to drive a wedge between North Atlantic Treaty OrganizationNATO allies. In case Russia turns off its gas supplies to Europe, European countries have limited supplies of stored gasusually only enough for 1 to 2 months of consumption.Supply interruptions would cause significant losses for national economies.

Subject Categories:

  • Fuels
  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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