Given Russia's annexation of Crimea and continued aggression in eastern Ukraine, Europe must reassess its approach to a regional security environment previously thought to be stable and relatively benign. This report analyzes the vulnerability of European states to possible forms of Russian influence, pressure, and intimidation and examines four areas of potential European vulnerability: military, trade and investment, energy, and politics.
Russia and the West After the Ukrainian Crisis
European Vulnerabilities to Russian Pressures
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روسيا والغرب بعد الأزمة الأوكرانية
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- How are NATO and EU countries vulnerable to Russian military pressures?
- How are NATO and EU countries vulnerable to Russian economic pressures?
- How are NATO and EU countries vulnerable to Russian influences on their domestic politics?
In the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea and continued aggression in eastern Ukraine, the rest of Europe has been forced to reassess its approach to a regional security environment previously thought to be stable and relatively benign. This report analyzes the vulnerability of European states to various possible forms of Russian influence, pressure, and intimidation and examines four areas of potential European vulnerability: military, trade and investment, energy, and politics. We find that European countries differ widely in their vulnerability to possible Russian actions. Whereas the states in southern or western parts of Europe have some economic vulnerability, Northern and Central European states have greater exposure to Russian actions due to their proximity to Russia, their history of recent domination by the Soviet Union, and, in some cases, the continuing legacies of the Soviet empire. Energy represents a lesser source of vulnerability for Europe than is generally perceived. If Russia were to halt oil exports to Europe, Europe could easily import oil from other suppliers. European countries could also find alternative measures if Russia were to interrupt flows of gas, although a few smaller economies would be less resilient than larger ones. Finally, Russia could try to exploit the political vulnerabilities of a number of countries, from Russian minorities issues in the Baltic states to the rise of populist parties in the rest of Europe.
Russian Military Action and the Imbalance of Forces Have Made Its Neighbors Nervous
- Russia could threaten the sovereignty of the Baltic states, but any attempt to control Baltic territory would likely provoke NATO counteraction.
Europe and the United States Remain Vulnerable to Russian Nuclear Forces, as Russia does to American, French, and British Nuclear Forces. Europe's Vulnerability to Disruptions in Energy, Trade, or Financial Flows Is, Overall, Limited
- European needs in almost all sectors can be readily covered by other suppliers.
- Europe relies on Russia for a not-insignificant share of its energy, but Russia relies on Western European technology and capital for its oil exploration and extraction industries. Although Russia provides a high percentage of European oil supplies, Russia's oil exports provide it with little leverage, as Europe could tap into alternative sources.
- While the smaller economies of southeastern, central, and northeastern Europe are disproportionately vulnerable to a cutoff in Russian natural gas supplies, overall, substitution measures could compensate for a permanent cutoff in Russian gas.
European Domestic Politics May Provide Russia an Opportunity to Foster Instability
- Some countries have disaffected russophone minorities that could be manipulated, while others are in severe economic difficulty that could be exploited. While fragile, EU sanctions have held so far.
- Right-wing extremist parties are on the rise in Europe, and some enjoy Russian support. None of them, however, enjoys enough domestic popularity to gain control over foreign policy.
Table of Contents
Trade and Financial Vulnerabilities
European Energy Vulnerabilities