Rocket, Guardians of Freedom
10 February 2017
The energy dependence of much of Europe on Russian gas and oil has always led to a question of the resolve of the European Union to stand against Russian aggression in Ukraine. Now, Gazprom, Russia’s energy giant, insists on building Nord Stream II pipeline through the Baltic Sea, which will run parallel to the existing Nord Stream I. Russia has also pushed for the Turkish Stream. In doing so, Russia appeases the European Union, in which energy giants such as Shell and Basf have pressured Germany to soften its stance by arguing that the “pipeline is needed to secure Russian natural gas into northern Europe.” To appease left-out southern Europe, Russia has invested in the Turkish Stream, which might soon turn into the Turkish Stream I and Turkish Stream II. This is not simply a business venture, contrary to what Gazprom claims.
The matter at hand is not in increasing the amount of gas supplied to Europe, but in further circumventing the existing transit system for Russian natural gas: pipes controlled by Ukraine. In light of the rapid destabilization of relations between Ukraine and Russia through the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Russia has sought to eliminate its dependence on Ukraine on the transit of its gas, which would also lead to a significant blow to the Ukrainian economy, where 10% of the government budget relies on transit payments. Ukraine is fighting back; Naftogaz, the main energy company of Ukraine, has filed a case at the International Court in Stockholm “over transit fees amounting $70 billion” — the largest arbitration case in the history of the court. Russia wants to retain its influence on the West by further exploiting the West’s dependency on Russian energy. They want to control majority shares of the energy market as well as building new pipelines in Europe. The new pipelines will also reduce Russia’s dependency on Ukraine.
Ultimately, the European Union needs to move towards energy independence by investing in renewable energy, as it is already doing, to decrease dependence on Russia, which inherently creates a conflict of interest when dealing with Russia’s aggressive actions. Ukraine, for its part, needs to move towards a service economy that focuses on technological innovation, and discard the industrial economy that is now simply a relic of the Soviet Union and a burden on the economy. The focus on raw supplies, such as energy, agriculture, and etc., will not grow the economy and will leave the country dependent on Russia.