Europe is in the midst of a natural gas crisis as prices spike. The European Commission (EC) is examining claims by some EU countries that Russia is using its “position as a major supplier to propel the soaring price of gas in Europe, the bloc’s energy policy chief said on Tuesday,” according to Reuters. Meanwhile in Moscow, the state news outlet TASS has run numerous articles making light of the situation, hinting at Russia’s glee and involvement in the crisis. 

This matters because, over the last decades, Russia has been accused of using energy needs as a weapon against countries in Europe and in the former Soviet Union. For instance, friendly countries like Belarus may get what they need from Moscow, but other states like Ukraine can become victims.
Europe as a whole is a huge market for Russia, and while some European countries have tended to want to work with or appease Moscow, especially Germany, others want a stronger stance against Russia. After the UK left the European Union, the bloc has been in more disarray. 

The overall context is not just about gas and energy. It is about rising authoritarian regimes and their economic clout. Russia, China, Turkey, Iran and other states want to work together. They can do so via the Belt and Road Initiative or the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. They all see economic policy and energy as part of national defense and diplomatic policy.
This is in contrast to Western countries that often act in a more compartmentalized way, with diplomats doing one thing, generals another and economic leaders doing something else. In short, the West is weak when it comes to dealing with important issues like energy.  
What are the Europeans saying? Reuters notes that “Russian supplier Gazprom has been fulfilling its sales obligations under long-term contracts but not adding more. That has drawn accusations by European Union lawmakers that it is pushing up gas prices in Europe, which have surged to record highs amid tight supply and other factors.” European Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson says this is a very serious matter and he is working closely with  
EC executive vice president Margrethe Vestager. Some EU countries want a coordinated response. READ MORE

Russia’s media, Europe’s gas crisis and the Mediterranean - analysis

Josh Toupos

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