Economics/Class Relations

Russia’s Pipeline Gambit

By Peter Zeihan on March 24, 2022

A mix of punitive sanctions and market forces is working to keep Russian energy exports out of global refineries and power plants, and ultimately in the ground as Moscow will have fewer markets willing (or able) to take deliveries.

Russia’s network of export pipelines to Europe – the world’s largest – and the dependency they engendered has long been a key part of Moscow’s diplomatic tool kit. Germany’s import dependence in particular gets a lot of attention, as it rightly should. As Europe’s largest economy and the ostensible leader of the European Union, one could argue that Berlin’s purchase power gives it significant leverage vis-à-vis Russia. But Germany’s long-standing reticence in challenging Russian aggression (and its current slow-walking of energy sanctions against Russia) is based on equal parts of economic reality and fear. No one knows this better than the Russians.

It’s no accident. There is no other power on the Northern European Plain that can boast Germany’s capital generation potential–capital that Germany has repeatedly used to build and arm a military that threatens Russian security. Few countries along Russia’s Western flank can match Germany’s repeated, historic threats to Russian ambitions and security. Except for Turkey.

It’s therefore no surprise that the two countries with direct pipeline access to Russian energy supplies are the wealthiest European member of NATO – Germany – and the second largest military after the United States – Turkey. Add in the fact that Ankara controls what flows in and out of the Black Sea (home to Russia’s only warm water ports) and you can see the incentive for Russia to incentivize Germany and Turkey to see things its way.

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