In a new article in the Wall Street Journal, Zenyo Baran and Robert A. Smith of the Hudson Institute explain how Gazprom has pushed the economically astronomically expensive South Stream pipeline to defeat two competing European proposals designed to increase energy security. Until energy security is viewed as a hard security issue, they argue, Europe will be outmaneuvered by Russia:
Many European nations are simply afraid of angering Russia. In the late 1990s the U.S., along with Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia, took the lead in building oil and gas pipelines from the Caspian Sea to Turkey. Moscow fiercely opposed these projects. At the time, Europeans claimed the projects weren’t feasible and did little to support them. Yet today, the EU recognizes that these pipelines are vital to its energy security and that without them its dependence on Russia would be even greater. Strong U.S. support was sufficient to counter Russian opposition and European reluctance in the 1990s. But it won’t be enough today. Thanks to the high energy prices, Moscow is much stronger and more assertive now than it was in the 1990s. What’s more, the EU lacks the resolve to challenge Russia’s monopoly pressure. Perhaps it is time for energy security to be more firmly integrated in the NATO treaty, as U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar suggested at the organization’s November 2006 summit. That way, when energy is used as a political weapon to pressure a NATO member, the alliance would stand together in support of the beleaguered state. It may also be time to introduce energy into the NATO-Russia dialogue. These are topics that leaders must discuss at the NATO summit in Bucharest this April.