Testimony to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
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Energy studies fellow Anna Mikulska delivered this testimony on February 16, 2023, before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for the “Hearing to examine the impact of the Russian Federation’s war in Ukraine on European and global energy security one year after the invasion.” A recording of the hearing is available here.
Energy security has re-entered the conversation surrounding European energy policy in a way that could only be compared with the 1970s oil shocks. At that time Western European nations decided that reliance on crude oil could be attenuated by bringing in Russian natural gas to support European industry and heating needs. Now, half a century later, the EU is facing an energy crisis, much of which is based on the combination of overreliance on Russian energy, underestimation of Russia’s readiness to use gas flows for geopolitical purposes, and general lack of alternatives for immediate and seamless substitution.
The situation unraveled after Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24th , 2022. For almost a year now, to avoid a breakdown of its energy system, Europe has relied on energy efficiency measures, demand curtailment and ability to pay record prices for energy. Critical has been also U.S. support, both via active energy diplomacy and from the U.S. oil and gas industry, which turned out record volumes helping to sustain anti-Russian efforts around the world with flexible and commercially oriented supply.
Europe and especially the EU are often painted with broad brush strokes as a unit, a black box with EU regulation or West European considerations determining the approach to and direction of policies. In the meantime, often multiple European approaches exist. In particular, the approach to energy security distinguishes the Europe’s more developed and generally wealthier “West” from the Eastern bloc of countries, which emerged from Soviet dependance. While Western European countries have pushed energy security considerations to the side, their neighbors to the East have often worked tirelessly to ensure secure energy access. Countries like Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have been particularly concerned about dominance of Russian energy in Europe and often highlighted the need for diversification of both supply sources and supply routes. These efforts helped after Russia invaded Ukraine but could not completely diminish the impact that curtailment of Russian energy flows has had on Europe as a whole.
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