Energy security is one of the most significant geopolitical challenges in our age of time. Dependence on foreign energy is a broader challenge that – when push comes to shove, as in the case of Ukraine – can have very tangible consequences for millions of Europeans.
On March 4, the head of Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled natural gas monopoly, announced that it would no longer sell to Ukraine at a discount, because Russia’s southwestern neighbor had “violated its agreements.”
The gas business involves a particularly complex interplay of conflicting interests so that the need to reduce payments to Moscow (including by developing domestic nonconventional sources) somewhat contradicts Ukraine’s self-presentation as the shortest and most reliable transit route. The desire to keep control over the domestic gas transmission system also exacerbates the lack of funds for their modernisation. Another key challenge was the high price level for imported Russian gas which pressed down on margins in Ukraine’s main export industries.
Over the past five years, as Ukraine has updated or closed down many of its creaky factories and mining operations, its natural gas consumption has fallen by nearly 40 percent and its gas imports from Russia have dropped by half.
From the broader strategic point of view, Ukraine is the main transit country for Russian gas supplies to the European Union. As far as the gas supplies to Europe are concerned, that supply contracts are between European companies and Gazprom. It therefore continues to be Gazprom’s responsibility to ensure the deliveries of the required volumes as agreed in the supply contracts.
- The European Union has repeatedly stated that EU expect commercial operators on all sides to continue respecting their contractual obligations and commitments.
Disruptions in energy supply can have far-ranging consequences for consumers and businesses, and they are, as such, a very effective political tool. Gazprom supplies well over half of Ukraine’s natural gas, and Ukraine is faced with a 37% increase in the price of Russian natural gas after Gazprom recently cancelled a discount.
As supplies to the European Union and supplies to Ukraine are closely related, EU are willing to discuss with all parties concerned how these contractual obligations are to be met on the basis of market prices, rules and international law, as it is the case in the European Union, and how to ensure that transit through Ukraine, storage of gas in Ukraine and supply to Ukraine are done in a transparent and reliable manner.
Ukraine is also a large and important European state as well as an important market for natural gas in its own right. How Ukraine tackles its energy security challenges will, in any event, have an impact on EU affairs. In this context it seems vital to re-assess the state of Russo-Ukrainian energy relations with a particular focus on developments within Ukraine.
It is therefore extraordinarily significant that the EU heads of state and government to sign the political part of the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine. This sends a strong signal, not least to Russia. “A matter of basic principles that are important for the security of Europe as a whole.”
In an Europeanvoice article: The foreign ministers of Denmark and Sweden say decisions by EU leaders next week will shape our climate, energy and industry landscapes in the years to come. They should heed the lessons from Ukraine’s crisis.
Ukraine now using support from an international fund, to which the governments of Denmark and Sweden are among the main contributors. Ukraine is implementing some of the difficult but necessary reforms, for example, reducing energy subsidies and re-organising the sector to attract investments.
Denmark and Sweden will remain committed, said foreign ministers, to this important assistance in the energy field and we will look to enhance it further to help eastern neighbours to choose freely the direction of their societies, without being directed by undue pressure.
For the EU leaders, one theme to consider is the concern about high energy prices, the vulnerability to price shocks, and the increasing natural gas and oil import dependency.
The latter has increased over the past two decades. It is now expected (in a business-as-usual scenario) to increase to more than 80% in oil and natural gas before 2035. In contrast, recent analysis points to a clear downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices in markets with a high percentage of renewable energy.
The most efficient tool to foster competitive energy prices and ensure energy independence has proven to be a well-functioning internal market, clever investments in domestic production, energy efficiency and sufficient infrastructure.
According to The foreign ministers of Denmark and Sweden recent article in europeanvoice. The European Union must take action and show leadership. We must increase our efforts to reduce Europe’s high energy-dependency rates.
- It is high time to recognise that our policy towards the eastern neighbourhood and our discussions on energy supply in the EU are inextricably interlinked.
It is against this backdrop that the European Council this week will both set the course for the European Union’s energy and climate policy in the years to come and address the challenging situation in Ukraine.
There are few dimensions of international life that have undergone such dramatic changes in the past several years as that of the production, transport, and import of energy. In response, the United States and much of the rest of the international community will have to adjust their own foreign, defence, trade and economic policies in ways that will be necessarily costly to all concerned, most of all to Russia itself.
Europe can build on its recent successes on trade and Iran to play an active role in world affairs. The United States and Europe can also work together to better deal with Russia over Ukraine and engage emerging powers, especially now, to better integrate them into the international order.
After the end of the Cold War, the United States substantially reduced the number of American troops stationed abroad, particularly those intended for the defense of West Germany against a massive invasion by the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. During the first half of the 1990s the United States withdrew nearly 300,000 military personnel from abroad and closed or turned over to host governments some 60 percent of its overseas military installations.
The transatlantic partnership has been the foundation of global security for over two generations (and may still do), at least for now making available for mixing-and-matching with others. US has about fifty long-term military assistance programs with other countries and that having one with Ukraine would be prudent. Also US senators believe that events in Ukraine are vital to the transatlantic relationship.
A substantial presence of U.S. ground forces in Europe as well as East Asia would continue to be required to give credibility to the U.S. commitment to its traditional allies in those theaters and to undergird regional stability. Of the “strategic realities of our era,” the global threat of radical Islamist-inspired terrorism of course holds center stage. This threat in particular suggests a global basing or presence infrastructure quite different from that of the Cold War era—one more highly distributed and emphasizing new capabilities
In other respects, however, the responsibility does not lie with the West alone. Ultimately, how China and Iran acts will be at least as consequential in determining whether or not the regional order will be stable or not. It is worth reflecting on at least one thing—Iran’s policy in Ukraine should not be such that it sends the wrong message to the West on the verge of the current détente attempts.
Iran should instead focus on the existing political-societal and economic realities, on good governance matters in Ukraine, and should oppose Russian military actions in Crimea, which can endanger the country’s territorial integrity. Subsequently, Iran can take advantage of the emerged opportunity to institutionalize its relations with the EU in areas such as energy transfer and regional political-security cooperation, taking some steps toward establishing confidence-building which are necessary for lifting sanctions.
Iran should follow polices that primarily preserve the state’s geopolitical interests and ideological values. As Kayhan Barzegar, Middle East Strategic and a former research fellow at Harvard University, wrote; Iran weighs ‘active neutrality’ in Ukraine. Good choice
This policy, should be based on “active neutrality,” Orienting Iran toward the West in favor of Iran’s interests. According to which the prospective tensions and rivalries between major powers involved in the crisis are equated in favor of Iran’s relative security and national interests. The choices made by state and non-state actors alike in the Middle East will be equally decisive there.
Elsewhere, other states have a role to play. Australia’s leadership can help restore confidence in the G-20, and countries like Australia can innovate on naval crisis management arrangements and energy security. The greatest challenge Australia must confront in coming decades will be maintaining a secure strategic position in the Asia-Pacific region. None of this is to suggest that the international community give up— serious efforts to prevent a crisis are more important than ever—but rather to underscore the seriousness of the challenge. And this is before we factor in the complex challenge of climate change.
It is striking that this very significant upgrade to the U.S.–Australian security relationship, which extends to other measures, such as increased joint exercises and greater access for U.S. aircraft to Australian air bases, passed without a great deal of comment in the United States; yet it is hardly surprising. While they have identified Asia as the most important region to the United States since 2011, Americans have long taken for granted the global network of military bases and facilities of all kinds that the United States acquired following World War II and has largely if not completely retained ever since.
The “forward basing” or “forward presence” of American military forces around the world has become accepted by them as a natural and legitimate expression of America’s geographical situation as well as its long-established role as the world’s chief security provider.
Today’s leaders have an historic opportunity to apply a fresh approach to Euro-Atlantic security. Recognizing that differences will continue in some form for some time, the common interests of nations in the Euro-Atlantic region are more aligned today than at any point in modern history.
As the crisis in Ukraine shows that security in the Euro-Atlantic area cannot be taken for granted, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen will discuss NATO’s essential role in an unpredictable world. On March 19, at the Center on the United States and Europe (CUSE) Statesman’s Forum address on the importance of the transatlantic alliance and how the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is evolving to address new common security challenges.
The world has become more interconnected—a trend that is likely to intensify in the longer term Energy security, Cyber security and geopolitical position of the political debate are some of the recent developments that have changed world leaders approach toward energy and security.
We are facing threats from non-state actors who have no regard for boundaries or for laws, no respect for civilized behavior or humanity. “We’re in an epic battle” say FM Julie Bishop. The Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop has made the fight against global terrorism and homegrown terrorism one of her platforms as foreign minister.
However, Australia’s anti-terror work also has a global bent. Last November she used her address at the United Nations Security Council, which Australia then headed, to speak on terror threats and the need for international cooperation.There is a worry. The Australian foreign minister said during her hour-long discussion with the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani : “If Afghanistan is able to create a functioning nation … then that will be a significant breakthrough in the fight against global terrorism.