current affairs energy

Europe’s dependence on Russian energy

In the wake of the MH17 plane crash, Russia is under renewed pressure to pull back its support for rebel separatists in the Ukraine. Yesterday David Cameron warned of further sanctions. “If Putin does not change his approach to Ukraine in this then Europe and the West must fundamentally change our approach to Russia.”

The trouble is, much of Europe is dependent on Russian energy. Freezing assets and travel bans may provide some token sanctions, but as long as Russia controls Europe’s energy, there is little that can be done. It is safer to risk inaction over Ukraine than to jeopardise energy supplies. Russia has shown its willingness to turn off the pipelines before, although it tends to do that to its Eastern clients rather than the more lucrative Western nations.

Russia gas exports

This graph shows gas exports, but it’s worth bearing coal in mind too. 40% of Britain’s electricity is from coal, and half our coal imports are from Russia. We rely on Russian coal to keep the lights on. If you are angry about Russia’s behaviour in Ukraine, that dependency could well be the biggest obstacle to Britain being tougher with Putin’s regime.

If we are to ‘fundamentally change our approach to Russia’, as Cameron suggests, then weaning ourselves off Russian energy ought to be the place to start.


  1. OBAMA PLANS STALLED He pledged in 2008 to end the recession and then build a 21st century, full employment economy. His program was to invest big time in transportation and energy infrastructure. Americans still approve that pledge. Conservatives have blocked every significant plan for investing in jobs and growth since the stimulus. Their plans can be called Conservative austerity or Economic sabotage. Americans need to call it what it is. The Highway Trust Fund is within weeks of going bankrupt and a variety of conservatives have stalled sensible plans to replenish that fund. Already states and localities are stopping highway and transit plans and many have begun laying off workers because of funding uncertainty. Unless a deal is struck soon, 700,000 good jobs could be lost according to the Transportation Department. A group of “right wingers” in Congress is pushing the idea that the funding should be handed off to the states. Other conservatives oppose all Tax Increases. Raising the gas tax which has been the way to pay in the past. 23 leaders of national organizations have sent a letter asking Congress to listen to their constituents and pass legislation to renew robust long term funding for the Highway Trust Fund Democrats have put forth many plans for funding highways, transit systems, energy technology, education and training. WHO has stood in the way of national progress?? The American Society of Civil Engineers said we will fall $3.6 Trillion short of what is needed to put the critical systems, including roads, schools and airports in a good repair. Clarence swinney

  2. We joined up with Ukraine’s Orange Revolution in 2004 after the UK refused our founder leave to enter the UK. In our work as a social enterprise we’ve met many obstacles over our work in Ukraine and it’s difficult not to believe we were stepping on toes. In 2005 our founder had drawn attention to the way in which Ukraine’s economy was being undermined by Russian petroleum prices and how BP were complicit in this assualt on democracy. He nailed the US intentions, drawing attention to the economic hit man who was really betraying a revolution:

  3. Agree with you-most certainly Britain should have considered weaning itself away from dependence on Russia for Gas & Coal supplies long, long ago-but as is so often the case with this nation, it suddenly wakes from its sleepy indolence in time to meet an almost insurmountable situation. I despair of our ineptitude and the continued duplicity practised by our authorities/politicians.

    1. I think part of it is that we forget about coal. We know Russia is a big gas importer, and we look at our gas imports from there and go ‘that’s not so bad’. We’re also terrible at putting two and two together, unfortunately. That’s why we’re currently exporting arms to Russia while wagging our finger at France for doing the same.

      1. Absolutely incomprehensible-however it appears that as long as the EU is controlled by the massive conglomerates/corporations and the Banking Elite, our ‘leaders’ will follow as they directed.

  4. At the moment our coal dependency is falling because a lot of plant is closing, nevertheless its still probably critical. Having said that at the moment (today) its only producing about 17% of our electricity the lowest I’ve ever seen. I would infer this due to about 4-5GWp of solar…

  5. Maybe the UK needs a new energy policy that emphasises efficiency and renewables. That way the Russians can go pound sand and the Brits can stay warm in the winter. 😉

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