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European Energy Security and the Role of Russian Gas: Assessing the Feasibility and the Rationale of Reducing Dependence


In the aftermath of the 2014 Ukraine crisis, the geopolitical argument that Russia may use the “gas weapon” towards Europe (i.e. reduce or cut off supplies to force compliance with political and strategic aims) has gained ground and led to renewed calls for Europe to reduce its dependence on Russian gas. However, given the impossibility of ascertaining whether such threat is genuine or only perceived as such, European policies, developed only on the assumption that it is genuine and without due regard to commercial realities, might undermine European gas (and energy) security. Commercial realities suggest that while highly dependent small European markets can significantly reduce (and in some cases eliminate) their dependence on Russian gas by 2020 – albeit at a cost which would need to be met by European taxpayers – there is limited scope for significantly reducing overall European dependence on Russian gas at least until the mid-2020s. Therefore, European policies should reflect the necessity of continuing EU-Russia gas relationship and develop the means for its adequate management.

Revised version of a paper presented at the eigth edition of the Transatlantic Security Symposium “Challenges to European Security: A Transatlantic Perspective” organised in Rome on 26 October 2015 by the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI).

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