Energy Dependence Ties Europe’s Hands in U.S.-Russia Crisis
Europe’a dependence on Russian gas and oil has limited the continent’s ability to maneuver or take action in the mounting crisis between Washington and Moscow over security in the region and is resulting in significant vulnerability in the event of an escalation. Officials from the US, Russia, and Europe met on Thursday in Vienna at the Organization for Security and Cooperation to discuss the tensions after the US and Russia failed to reconcile over Moscow’s deployment of more than 100,00- troops along the border with Ukraine. Ukraine is a major thoroughfare for gas consumed in Western Europe. Moscow has repeatedly denied preparing to invade its western neighbor.
US Senators are expected to vote on a bill introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz that would require sanctions to be imposed on the Nord Stream 2, a German-Russian gas pipeline that is expected to begin operations later this year. Western officials have accused the Kremlin of withholding supplies in recent months, an action that could force European regulators to approve the pipeline. The pipeline would exacerbate Europe’s dependence on Moscow. The implications of the dependence are risky, as it means European governments aren’t willing to consider sanctions on Russian energy exports. The sanctions could be a possible deterrent against a potential invasion of Ukraine.