Russia on Europe’s Gas Supply: Tough Talk, But No Teeth

Investigations are underway into Russian interference in the US election, and policies regarding Russia attract scrutiny. The US Senate approved a bill to tighten sanctions against select Russian companies including some in the energy sector and block possible removal by the president. The bill is stalled in the US House of Representatives. Officials with the Russian firm Gazprom seek to divide Europe and the United States on such policies and suggest that sanctions threaten completion of a pipeline that bypasses Ukraine to supply Europe with Russian gas. Agnia Grigas, author and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, rejects that argument. She describes connections between Gazprom and Kremlin leadership, Russia’s track record in slowing energy deliveries in response to policy disagreements and new competing energy suppliers. The innuendo “is either empty bluff or dangerous miscalculation,” she notes. Instead, “the changing nature of the natural gas markets are increasingly chipping away at the Russian monopoly over Europe, with growing LNG trade, new US imports and a buildup of new infrastructure to bring alternative sources of gas.” US legislators could use their country’s market advantage to apply sanctions and send a message that interventions and meddling in elections do not pay. – YaleGlobal