Date of Award

Spring 5-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science & Geography


Graduate Program in International Studies

Committee Director

Regina Karp

Committee Member

Austin T. Jersild

Committee Member

Arnold C. Dupuy


Energy Security will continue to remain as one of the top security concerns for Europe. Depleting reserves and growing energy demand have increased European dependence on external energy resources. Today, Russia is by far the largest supplier of oil, coal and the natural gas to Europe. Oil and natural gas revenues have played a vital role to rebound the Russian economy and have supported Putin’s ambitions to reestablish Russia as a great power, increasing its influence over the former Soviet space. This complex energy relationship has increasingly been a cause of concern.

The main question this study seeks to answer is to what extent Russia could use natural gas/energy supplies to leverage political outcomes. The study finds that the Soviet Union, then Russia, have used energy relations as a natural extension of their foreign policy. Energy subsidies were used to reward Russia’s allies, while price manipulation, cut off threats and coercion were used against others. The study also finds that Russia has used energy relations to create a wedge amongst European countries that are members of the EU and NATO. Construction of natural gas pipelines, Nord Stream I and II, and Turk Stream has reduced Russia’s reliance on the Soviet legacy pipeline network that runs through Ukraine. While the Nord Stream II pipeline appears at the heart of the crisis in Ukraine, the new pipeline networks have allowed Russia to manipulate energy flow and to weaponize energy to achieve political outcomes.

Russia is also concerned to maintain its market share and reputation as a reliable supplier of energy to Western Europe, as fossil fuel revenues are critical to support its government’s budget. While using every instrument of national power, diplomacy, military, and information, Russia has not threatened cutting energy supplies to Western Europe. This might change in the future as Russian exports are diversified to Asian markets. In case of a disruption, while increased Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) imports provide a short-term relief, to reduce dependence on Russia over the mid-long term, Central Asia and Caucasus energy resources could be a viable alternative enabling Europe to diversify its energy sources.


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Copyright, 2022, by Mehmet Kınacı, All Rights Reserved.