Why Putin won’t suffer any serious consequences

Because Europe is just too dependent on Russian gas and oil.  Here’s a map/infographic from Vox:


And Slate’s Daniel Gross on the issue:

But a look inside the trade numbers reveals that Europe’s ability and willingness to punish Russia economically is severely compromised. Simply put, Russia is Europe’s gas station. If you refuse to patronize the gas station, you’ll certainly inflict some pain on the owner. But then you wouldn’t be able to get to work or drive to the mall or get your kids to school…

In fact, the trade between Europe and Russia largely consists of fuels. In 2013, the EU imported 166.3 billion euros of fuels from Russia, accounting for about 80 percent of Russia’s total exports to the EU. In 2011, Netherlands—which has the most reason to be angry at Russia—imported virtually all the petroleum it used, and about one-third of that oil came from Russia. The Netherlands also runs the largest trade deficit with Russia of any EU country.

And I love this conclusion:

Taking serious steps to reduce purchases of Russian energy would require European leaders to show both moral courage and an overt willingness to inflict financial pain on large and well-connected companies. But both of these things are in short supply—just like natural gas and oil.

Again, just amazing what your country can get away with if you have enough gas and oil.  Pretty depressing.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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