In the wake of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, no sane European wants Russia to have the free cash flow that its hydrocarbon exports currently provide. And the European Union, the United States and their allies are already well on their way to removing this major source of the Kremlin’s geopolitical influence.
WASHINGTON/KYIV – Russia occupies an important place in world energy markets. It supplies 40% of the gas consumed in the European Union, and it is a particularly important economic issue for Germany, Italy and Austria. But Russia’s global energy footprint is largely oil. It is the second largest exporter of crude, behind Saudi Arabia, averaging around five million barrels per day. Russia also exports some 2.85 million barrels of refined products, such as diesel and aviation fuel.
These fossil fuel exports enabled Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its extreme violence against unarmed civilians and civilian infrastructure. Russian President Vladimir Putin apparently believes no one can stand up to him because of the naked power he can wield in energy markets. If the Europeans resist too much, he will cut off their gas. If the rest of the world reduces its purchases from Russia, the price of oil will rise, causing economic hardship everywhere.
But Putin underestimated the horror and fear his invasion would create, especially in Europe. Worse still for him, the United States, Europe and their allies have all the tools necessary to end Russia’s energy leverage. Importers around the world shun Russian oil and gas. Europe, certainly, will never again risk its national security on Russian energy imports. As a result, Russia will soon no longer be a major player in world energy markets.
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