Friday, December 26, 2014

Putin's Pipeline Power

Anna Shiryaevskaya writes at Bloomberg:
Europeans who want to get tough with Russia over the standoff in Ukraine must face a chilling fact: They need Russian natural gas to stay warm in the winter. About a third of Europe’s gas comes from Russia and memories of shutoffs in 2006 and 2009 are a haunting reminder of the grip it holds on the region’s energy supply. Ukraine is central to the problem, as the country’s Soviet-era pipeline network carries about half of Russia’s gas exports to Europe. Since the last disruption, the most vulnerable countries have raced to lay pipelines, connect grids, build terminals to import liquefied natural gas and develop different ways to fuel their homes and factories. But there are few good alternatives to Russian gas, and they come at a much higher cost. Gas remains a powerful tool of Russian foreign policy.

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