Russia runs out of options to use energy supplies as leverage
Before the invasion of Ukraine, Russia had reduced its export of natural gas to Europe in an effort to increase tensions in the energy sector. After invading Ukraine, Russia continued to manipulate the supply of natural gas. Following instructions from the Kremlin, Gazprom unilaterally ordered its customers in EU member states to pay for natural gas in Russian roubles, cutting off the supply to the countries that refused to accept the new terms. Before the Nord Stream gas pipeline incidents, the corporation had reduced the supply of natural gas to the EU, allegedly due to technical problems.
Since Lithuania is capable of securing the supply of natural gas independently from Gazprom, it makes Lithuania immune from Russia’s manipulations. In the near term, Russia will be increasingly running out of options to use energy supplies as leverage in pursuit of political goals with regard to other EU countries. They systematically reduce their dependence on Russian natural gas by implementing new sustainable energy projects and strengthening their liquefied natural gas infrastructure.
The export of natural gas to the EU used to generate a considerable share of Russia’s national budget, whereas Russia’s ability to redirect these exports to other markets is limited by lack of infrastructure and by international sanctions.
We assess that it is possible that Gazprom will try to regain part of the Baltic and EU market by employing natural gas trading intermediaries it has already collaborated with in the past or whose representatives have influential connections in Gazprom structures.