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Gas and Power
How Russia Cuts Through the EU's United Front

The EU, led by Germany, has so far been able to keep a reasonably unified front together for threatening so-called third level economic sanctions against Russia (which would include additional energy sanctions), but there have been reports of a block of malcontent countries chafing behind the scenes, led by Italy.

What’s unifies these countries? This map should help clarify things:

One of the EU’s biggest plays so far has been declaring a moratorium on building the South Stream pipeline. According to the AP, however, the ranks are starting to break:

In Slovenia Tuesday for discussions that included South Stream, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov challenged the EU Commission’s moratorium as “not in accordance with norms of international law.”

Slovene Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec cited North Stream, another Russian pipeline to Europe partially owned and supplied by Russia, as a precedent for South Stream.

European reaction has been generally muted. Many countries in central and eastern Europe already get much of their gas from Russia, making them ill-placed to criticize South Stream. Those further west, like France, have seen their lucrative business relations with Russia untouched by sanctions against Moscow.

And while individual countries are taking steps to diversify their sources, officials seem to recognize there are few near-term options to Russian gas.

Renewable energy projects are not close to meeting demand. Environmental concerns are fomenting widespread opposition to fracking — the disputed extraction of oil and gas from shale formations that has resulted in a U.S. gas boom. And it will be at least a decade before the U.S. can make sea-borne shipments of liquefied natural gas, due to technical and bureaucratic hurdles.

These are the realities Europe faces as it contemplates further action against Russia. And Putin knows it.

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  • rheddles

    Sound like good reasons to get out of Nato.The Europeans are grown ups. They can defend themselves from Russia.

  • Duperray

    @rheddles: Good view: NATO was built to pretect Europe from soviet overwhelming attack (by 1946 US conventional ground forces were small in comparison with soviet) in order to install communism. Only nuke was able to contend it by making soviet understand that a military invasion of Europe would be very costrly.
    70 years later, now, the threat map has changed. Russia has no more this capability and no more this political target. Threats come from south, terrorism, sectarian religions, hunger and overpopulation.
    Russia is now a friend because has same targets and sustains same threats as West. Crimea is an episode without blood and death, supported by population referendum.
    What presently US spreads “oil over the fires” in Ukraine kills, destroy for nothing else than make ukrainian gas/oil be under US economical control (do you guess why Binden’s son is there?).
    As usual since 1945, foreign US policy always ends up in local mess, state of war and huge failure. Up to now, Russia and China were absent from international scene. This time ended, in Far East confrontation is pending.

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