Gazprom is a monopoly gas company controlled by the Russian state. While the company presents itself as motivated solely by commercial logic and economic interest, it has a consistent track record of acting as an arm of the Kremlin’s foreign and economic policy, notes Ilya Zaslavskiy, a research expert at Free Russia Foundation and an academy associate at Chatham House.
In a new paper – The Kremlin’s Gas Games in Europe: Implications for Policy Makers, he provides an assessment of the choices facing the European Commission in regard to both Gazprom and Russia, as well as some background for the business community. In particular, the paper provides policy recommendations for US policy makers as the European Union (EU) negotiates on Gazprom’s latest pipeline project, Nord Stream 2, a proposed new export gas pipeline that would run from Russia to Western Europe below the Baltic Sea. Nord Stream 2 is slated to have the same throughput capacity as an existing pipeline, Nord Stream 1. The conclusion is that Nord Stream 2 is a politically motivated project that presents a major challenge to European law and EU principles, and jeopardizes the security interests of the United States and its EU allies. RTWT
Zaslavskiy presented his findings at a recent event at the National Endowment for Democracy – which heard that across Central and Eastern Europe, Russia is expanding its economic and political influence and using it to undermine democratic standards and values, Utilizing its strong position as a dominant energy supplier to the EU and former Soviet republics, Russia is employing economic incentives and punishment to undermine democratic transitions, counter European integration, and erode commitments to EU policies.