Energy as a tool of foreign policy of authoritarian states, in particular Russia

27-04-2018

Russia and other energy-rich authoritarian states use their energy exports for economic gains but also as a tool of foreign policy leverage. This study looks at the ways and methods these states have used to exert political pressure through their energy supplies, and what it means for the European Union. Most energy-rich authoritarian states use their energy wealth to ensure regime survival. But, more than others, Russia uses its energy wealth as well to protect and promote its interests in its ‘near abroad’ and to make its geopolitical influence felt further afield, including in Europe. It uses gas supplies to punish and to reward, affecting both transit states and end-consumers. This study explores how supply disruptions, price discounts or hikes, and alternative transit routes such as Nord Stream 2 and Turkish Stream, are used by Russia to further its foreign policy ambitions, feeding suspicions about its geopolitical motives. The lack of transparency about Russia’s energy policy decisions contributes to this. In response, the EU is building an Energy Union based around the Third Energy Package, a more integrated European market and diversified supplies. By investing in new supplies, such as LNG, and completing a liberalised energy market, the EU will be better able to withstand such energy coercion and develop a more effective EU foreign policy.

Russia and other energy-rich authoritarian states use their energy exports for economic gains but also as a tool of foreign policy leverage. This study looks at the ways and methods these states have used to exert political pressure through their energy supplies, and what it means for the European Union. Most energy-rich authoritarian states use their energy wealth to ensure regime survival. But, more than others, Russia uses its energy wealth as well to protect and promote its interests in its ‘near abroad’ and to make its geopolitical influence felt further afield, including in Europe. It uses gas supplies to punish and to reward, affecting both transit states and end-consumers. This study explores how supply disruptions, price discounts or hikes, and alternative transit routes such as Nord Stream 2 and Turkish Stream, are used by Russia to further its foreign policy ambitions, feeding suspicions about its geopolitical motives. The lack of transparency about Russia’s energy policy decisions contributes to this. In response, the EU is building an Energy Union based around the Third Energy Package, a more integrated European market and diversified supplies. By investing in new supplies, such as LNG, and completing a liberalised energy market, the EU will be better able to withstand such energy coercion and develop a more effective EU foreign policy.

External author

Rem Korteweg