The conflict between Russia and Ukraine over the annual gas transactions and dealings has been mostly intermittent. This presents the gravity of the matter, alongside the fact that the conflict has mainly been seen to transcend the two parties so as to largely affect European countries that heavily rely on this gas. The negative effect of the war stems from the fact that the gas is clearly seen to be Russian, and the transiting route for this gas is Ukraine.
Substantial lists of those countries that are hurting as a result of this state of affair are the actual EU member states and the potential EU member states. The situation at the moment continues to aggravate, given the fact that these countries are in the verge of facing an acute disruption of oil supply, a situation that experts such as Adamski, Johnson and Schweiss (2006) say is likely to culminate into a dearth in security in energy supply. This state of affair only means that European Union is to undergo a lot of repercussions and has a lot of vested interests in the ongoing discussions on the common energy policy.
At the moment, it is true that the incumbent conflict has placed the issue of solidarity among the EU member states into the limelight. Herein, there is a rush being made at a full throttle by EU nations to ensure a steady supply of gas individually so as to ward off cases of disruptions. Similarly, these countries in Europe are trying to ensure redistribution from non affected member states, to those that are affected. However, the tenability of this rule is called to questions severally, owing to the diversity of interests that the member states have. Apart from the above effects, sundry types of effects the gas clamor has wrought on European countries are addressed heretofore.
Bilateral and Multilateral suspicion among European nations and the plummeting of Gas Supply
It can be said with some degree of lucidity that the Russian- Ukrainian conflict has taken a new twist into this affair that is causing spiraling degree of tension in the entire Europe. January 6th 2008 marked a new phase in this affair as the chief Ukrainian gas company, Naftogaz accused publicly, the Russian gas giant, Gazprom of making cuts to Europe by at least two-thirds. As a rebuttal to this, the deputy Chief Executive Officer of Gazprom Alexander Medvedev, made stark indictments of the Ukrainian government for having shut down, at least three fourths of its export pipelines (Carr, 2007).
At the moment, the underlying issue is that Russia has assuaged the level of supply for her natural gas, meaning that two-fifths of EU’s total gas imports have been extirpated. Because of this, predominantly Eastern European countries remaining dependent on Russian imports have remained consistently susceptible to questionings over energy dependence. Similarly, EU has been grilled too, on the account that its policy makers have always talked of finding and securing recourse to Russian gas continually without any achievement to show for it.
On a domestic front, since January 6th, Eastern Europe countries have remained subjected to gas rationing, following announcements by the OMV, an Austrian energy company that its daily supply of natural gas had plummeted by 10%. According to LeCoq and Paltseva (2008), this was followed by Romania reporting a reduction in natural gas supplies by 75%, followed by Hungary’s 25%, and Bulgaria’s 15%. In the same vein, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Poland reported diminishing amounts of gas supply, albeit on a smaller scale.
Stalling Growth of the European Countries’ Economy
It is pointed out by political scientists and economists such as Scott (2009) that the present standoff over gas between Ukraine and Russia is only bound aggravate the economic crunch in countries of Eastern Europe. This is because; many of these countries are presently facing exorbitant prices in fuel commodities too: a situation that means that even the cost of electric power has skyrocketed of late.
The above state of affair, leading to high cost of production, only means that commodity prices are also likely to take a nosedive. These glaring facts are well underscored by the fact that Slovakia announced on January 7th 2009, that it was facing a state of emergency, due to dwindling reserves. Similarly, whereas Hungary can barely breathe due to stifled gas consumption by industrial users, Croatia, Turkey and Slovenia now have their gas supplies totally severed. Nonetheless, according to Pierre Noel’s calculations, the most affected countries are: Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia and Hungary (Scott, Ibid). Stunted Development in the Industrial Sector
It is pointed out by economists such as Lacolizado (2003) that the current situation is also likely to subject a lot of Eastern European countries to industrial stagnation. This development comes in the wake of the revelation that smaller countries in Eastern Europe are witnessing foreclosures in the industrial sector, following two reasons: the minimal and deficient supply of gas in the oil- dependent industrial sector; and the rising prices in gas and gas products, owing to the miniscule supply and the increased demand.
As a state, Slovakia remains the most express epitome of the above scenario, as it is making indictments over the dwindling reserves that has entrenched a state of emergency in this country. Hungary also reports inefficient industrial supply of gas in the industrial sector, as a factor that has inculcated retrogressive tendencies in the industrial sector.
Loss of Credibility by the EU
One of the issues that undercut the continual standoff between Russia and Ukraine is the fact that EU itself cannot come to the rescue of many nations in this situation, given the fact that although having a clear grasp on what the oil war portends, yet, EU lacks the moral authority to “correct” either side. Neither can EU simply coerce Ukraine to resume transportation, nor can it side with Ukraine against Russia. In 2006, EU which has been supporting Ukraine traditionally as a fledgling democracy; accused Russia of political patronage and espionage towards Ukraine (Scott, Op ct).
Apart from the fact that pushing Russia to resume oil transportation and supply would confirm fears of EU’s lopsidedness against Russia, EU knows so well that the current impasse is not due to Russia’s machinations. Compelling Ukraine to resume her gas transit obligations would hurt her as a democratic and economic youngling. The only recourse left for EU is to keep issuing general statements and to keep calling sides for negotiations. It is by the virtue of this EU’s apparent failure that it scored a mere 33% in 2008 in votes from citizens in EU member countries, as far as its credibility is concerned.
By extension of the above Eastern Europe gas crises, researches point out that in the next decade, the world is going to witness an intensified wave of dependency on major powers in Eastern Europe by relatively smaller economies such as Lithuania, Latvia, Turkey, Slovenia and Poland. These major powers in the Eastern block are bound to be only two- Germany and Russia. This is because, Russia herself monopolizes the supply of gas, while Germany on the other hand, has a separate energy deal with Russia. Apart from the fact that these two countries are the most developed in Eastern Europe, their accessibility to gas while their neighbors suffer lack, is bound to widen the industrial chasm between these two sides.
Adamski, J., Johnson, M. and Schweiss, C. (2006). The Evolution of Europe and New Security Threat. Colorado: Ashgate Publishing.
Carr, A. (2007). The Gas Conflict in Europe. California: University of California.
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Lacolizado, A., et al (2003). The Position of Russia in Eastern Europe. New York: Rutledge.
LeCoq, A. and Paltseva, P. (2008). Ascertaining Security and External Supplies in the EU. Retrieved From:
Scott, M. (Jan 6th 2009). Russian-Ukrainian Conflict Besets Europe: Business Week. Retrieved From: http://184.108.40.206/search?q=cache:MM8_mTzwy2QJ:www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/blog/europeinsight/archives/2009/01/russia-ukraine.html+HOW+THE+GAS+CONFLICT+IN+RUSSIA+AND+NEAR+COUNTRIES+AFFECTED+EUROPE&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ke
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