As the crisis between Russia and Ukraine moves to open war, most are assuming that NATO is preparing a counter attack. Russian President Vladimir Putin has made sure that there is very little NATO can do.
So how has Putin cornered NATO without firing a shot?
The EU, which is the largest force driving NATO policy, has grown addicted to Russian gas as it depends on a third of it for a third of their electricity. Putin has carefully used this over the years to hold German and France back from taking action against many of his moves. While the USA, Canada, and Britain have more wiggle room, Germany and France do not.
So where does Western Europe’s gas flow through? The answer is not surprising – Ukraine. This addiction has effectively turned Ukraine into an offering for Putin on the altar of the EU’s energy policy. As long as Putin’s Russia remains the EU’s single largest energy supplier, there is little NATO can do to protect Ukraine.
The energy pipelines running through Ukraine have been there since the 1960s and since the break up of the Soviet Union, Russia and Ukraine have argued over the ownership of the pipeline, which remain central to Russia’s energy sector and dominance.
Russia is building the NORD STREAM 2 pipeline which takes northern route to the EU through the Baltic sea. However, without approval from the EU, Ukraine remains the most important transit point
This War is About Energy Control
While NATO moving troops and weapons closer to Russia has always been a concern, Russian desire for complete control of the transit ways of its energy into European markets is a the key reason for the growing crisis. As long as the EU does not approve NORD STREAM 2, it increases Putin’s desire to take Ukraine to ensure a smooth delivery of its oil and gas to the EU.
As far as Western Europe is concerned, Ukraine is expendable as long as it keeps the gas and oil flowing from Russia. However, once Putin has Ukraine he will be on NATO member Poland’s doorstep and that is a recipe for all out war – potentially nuclear.