My College Thesis Was Right About Russia and Natural Gas
- Jan 24, 2022 7:55 pm GMT
It was about 16 years ago that I wrote my college thesis. The topic: why natural gas will make Russia a force to be reckoned with. While I was confident in my thesis's chief conclusion, I never imagined the extent to which it would prove true. Alas, with Russia becoming increasingly more threatening to its neighbors, near and afar, and countries such as Germany becoming more reliant on it, one thing is clear: as long as Russia is a major natural-gas exporter, it will be a force to be reckoned with.
Today, such a conclusion doesn't seem daring in the slightest: natural gas is becoming an ever more important energy source on the backdrop of the shuttering of nuclear and coal power plants and the increasing reliance on intermittent solar and wind energy. Hindsight, however, tells a different story. Back in the mid-2000s, Russia had yet to make any aggressive foreign policy moves, and overall Western interest in Russia was very low. In fact, many were those who found bizarre my infatuation with the Russian language and profound interest in the country's political and economic systems. To me, writing Russia off was a big mistake. Still, the lion's share of people's interest in foreign affairs went increasingly to the Middle East and Asia. Namely, places where military and economic activity were much greater.
What has taken place in subsequent years, however, not only supports what I wrote many years ago, but does so to a much greater extent that I could have imagined: some European countries, led by Germany, have worked tirelessly both at home and abroad to undermine nuclear energy, the one clean, inexpensive energy source that can properly defend against Russia's ability to use natural gas as a political weapon. Despite its efforts resulting in Europe's most expensive electricity and fuel prices, increasing dependence on Gazprom, and resorting more and more to coal, it is truly surreal to watch Germany continue its dogmatic crusade against nuclear energy, all to the benefit of Russia and to the detriment of Western security.
The Biden administration hasn't exactly helped. The decision to allow the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to be completed was shockingly naive. The US, in all seriousness, warned Moscow not to use the pipeline for political purposes. While the results could not have been more predictable, democrats continue to stress the importance of not irking Germany, of maintaining good relations with it. How much fealty does Germany have to demonstrate to Russia before reality is in fact recognized?
So, as the latest conflict between Russia and the West unfolds, it would behoove the West to keep in mind what my thesis concluded many years ago: if you are reliant on Russian natural gas, Russia will remain a force to be reckoned with. Add on that if you crusade with foam at the mouth against nuclear - the only energy source that can minimize Russian natural gas's influence - you can expect that baggage to get only heavier.
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