The Urengoi Pipeline

Prospects for Soviet Leverage

by John Van Oudenaren


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This report examines the implications for Western security of Soviet energy exports to Western Europe. It considers energy as a potential instrument of leverage against Western Europe. It examines the Soviet record in using economic leverage and Soviet motives for promoting large-scale energy exports to the West, and it outlines several scenarios in which the Soviets might embargo exports or otherwise use energy as an instrument of political pressure. It then examines the European side of the relationship. It analyzes Western Europe's vulnerability and likely responses to two kinds of political pressure: (1) a sudden interruption of energy supplies aimed at forcing political concessions, and (2) a more gradual, long-term effort to encourage political accommodation through economic dependence. It concludes that neither of these kinds of pressure is likely to be used successfully by the Soviets, but that Western Europe's energy vulnerability is nonetheless likely to remain a factor in U.S.-West European relations.

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