Russian gas and Ukraine transit on the verge of winter: Do the Baltic States and Central Eastern Europe have genuine cause for concern?
13 November 2014, 5 - 8 PM CET
TUSIAD Avenue des Gaulois, 13, Brussels 1040
As Europe prepares for the heating season, the chill is once again in the air. However, in the present day and age, Europeans are becoming more accustomed to such chills resulting from turbulent winds emanating in the Russian neighborhood, rather than from a downward drop in the temperature nearer to home. Indeed, 2014 has been one of the more testing years in our relationship with Russia in recent memory, with "big questions" being asked about European energy security. Russian intervention in Ukraine and the political crisis which that country continues to face translates into another winter of uncertainty for European energy consumers. While Gazprom and Naftogaz appear to be making traction on a new supply agreement, sources close to the ground suggest that "all options are still on the table" and further disruption of supply during the winter simply cannot be ruled out.
It is a clear testimony to the importance of having a fruitful outcome in the Russia-Ukraine gas talks that the EU Energy Commissioner has recently found himself right in the middle of the negotiation process. Further, the whole equation remains dependent on the fragile cease-fire in Ukraine's east — if Donetsk explodes once more an energy security crisis in Europe may erupt like a volcano. While the European Commission assures us that the EU is much better prepared for a fresh round of gas supply cut-offs, the truth of the matter is that today much of the continent remains in an extremely vulnerable state. The Baltic States, as well as much of Central Eastern Europe, remain too heavily dependent on Russian gas, despite honest attempts to diversify and build genuine energy independence.
What steps are these countries currently taking to protect themselves from possible gas shortages this winter? Is the risk of a gas supply shut down perceived to be substantial in this part of the EU? Are these states satisfied that Brussels is doing enough to sure up their interests vis a vis supply risk to the east? What sort of "shuttle diplomacy" is taking place behind the scenes in order to prevent another crisis? These are just some of the vexing questions that Matthew Bryza addressed during a presentation at the Brussels Energy Club on November 13.
Having served as a key figure in the construction of US energy policy towards Eurasia for the entire post-Cold War era, Ambassador Bryza is extremely well placed to look at Europe"s energy security in a holistic manner. In his remarks during this BREC session, Ambassador Bryza not only provided us with valuable information on how the Baltic States and Central Eastern Europe are preparing for possible energy security fallout this winter, but offered us genuine insights into the diplomatic as well as commercial processes that underscore energy relations between east and west.
Welcoming remarks by Dr Bahadir Kaleagasi, Chairman, Brussels Energy Club
Setting out the debate by Dr Marat Terterov, Executive Director, Brussels Energy Club
Presentation by Ambassador Matthew Bryza
Reflections and remarks by members and guests of the Brussels Energy Club, leading into Q/A session (NB: all discussions during the session will take place under the Chatham House Rule).
Buffet supper reception and networking opportunities with the speaker
Director of the International Centre
for Defence Studies, Tallinn,
Former-US Ambassador to Azerbaijan