Europe’s deepening energy insecurity
has been acutely demonstrated by the Russia-Georgia conflict, reports Jeff White, correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor
. Russia’s demonstrated willingness to cut supplies to Europe
has prompted the search for alternative sources, including the planned Nabucco pipeline, which bypasses Russia. However, the pipeline “stands little chance of success if this tense situation in Georgia continues,” Zurab Janjgava of Georgian Oil told the Wall Street Journal
yesterday. Georgian energy executive Giorgi Vashakmadze expressed his agreement to the Monitor
: “Russia is showing it controls this corridor.”
At a recent Wilson Center event, Marshall Goldman of Harvard University explained that Russian influence is wide and expanding because of their energy supplies. One illustration is the German natural gas supply, which is 40% Russian and growing. Russia’s phenomenal economic comeback since 1998 is due almost entirely to the strength of its energy sector. “Putin made a difference, but oil and gas made an even more important difference,” explained Goldman. He warned of the danger of Moscow’s strong control over vital energy supplies to Europe. Said Goldman, “Russia is indeed a petrostate and is very closely tied to the fate of energy.” Europe – and the West – can no longer hold any illusions to the contrary.
Sonia Schmanski contributed to this post.