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Op/ed: Russia Has Europe Hooked on its Gas and Oil

Energy Dependence Blunts Threat of Consequences for Ukraine Aggression

By Ryan Haddad

Putin meets in Moscow with his defense minister at a long table

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, meets with Russian Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu today in Moscow. The U.S. and NATO allies seek to present a united front as Russian troops mass near Ukraine's border, but a UMD researcher says Putin has significant leverage over European nations that depend on Russian natural gas and oil.

The U.S. and its allies have been stressing that they are united on the consequences for Russia if it invades Ukraine.

But with a parade of European leaders and officials (including, today, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz) scurrying between Kiev and Moscow in hopes that diplomacy can defuse the political crisis, it’s clear that the Biden’s administration’s threat of severe economic consequences” might not be enough of a deterrent, writes Ryan Haddad, research affiliate at the University of Maryland’s Ed Snider Center for Enterprise and Markets, in The Conversation.

Russia has something that may undercut that solidarity: a network of European countries, Germany in particular, dependent on it for energy exports, especially natural gas. That may make them reluctant to go along with severe U.S. sanctions.

This dependence didn’t happen overnight. And as I’ve learned while working on a book on U.S. economic warfare against the USSR during the Cold War, this issue has tended to divide America and its allies – in part because of how Russia has exploited the ambiguity of its intentions.

Read the rest in The Conversation.

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