SAB believes there is high probability of Russian decision to completely halt supply of energy resources to European countries

  • 2023-03-01
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - In the assessment of the Constitutional Protection Bureau (SAB), there is a high probability that Russia may decide to completely halt all supplies of energy resources to European countries in order to punish them for supporting Ukraine.

Such a scenario is most likely to occur in a situation where energy resource reserves of European countries are low and there is a high local demand. Then Russia's energy blackmail against European countries would potentially have the greatest effect.

SAB information shows that in the view of Vladimir Putin's regime, a new "cold war" has entered between Russia and the West. For this reason, Russia wants to review the previous foreign policy and adapt it to the current geopolitical conditions.

The new Russian foreign policy perspective is reflected in the foreign policy concept formulated last year. In it, Russia has decided to completely turn away from the West and instead focus on the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. In this way, Russia hopes to overcome the negative consequences for its economy and international role caused by the ever-increasing distancing from the Western countries. Russia particularly relies on China and India as potential markets for Russian goods and products, especially in the energy sector.

One of the ways Russia wants to find new international partners in Asia, Africa and Latin America is to exploit the anti-Western sentiments existing in these regions to form joint anti-Western coalitions.

In SAB's assessment, such Russian activities can be crowned with success, taking into account the low awareness of the countries of these regions about the threats posed by Russia and their receptivity to the propaganda messages spread by Russia.

This creates a beneficial environment for Russia to discredit the West and spread propaganda about the West's supposedly neo-colonial policies towards other regions of the world, thereby manipulatively diverting attention from Russia's aggression against its neighbors. It is almost certain that Russia will use this approach already in the summer of 2023 at the upcoming Russia-Africa Forum, when the leaders of several African countries will gather in St. Petersburg, SAB concluded.

However, it should be taken into account that the adjustment of Russia's foreign policy strategy - a turn from the West to other regions of the world - will be a long-term process and Russia will not be able to implement it in the short term. The adjustment of this foreign policy will be hindered not only by Russia's weakened diplomatic positions, but also by the caution of other countries to directly support Russia, fearing the possible application of Western sanctions.

Despite Russia's statements about its strategic partnership with China, in the context of the Russia-Ukraine war, China has chosen to maintain a neutral position and expands cooperation with Russia only where it is beneficial for itself, for example, by purchasing Russian energy resources.

The search for new global partners will not change Russia's confrontational and aggressive policy towards Western countries, which still aims to divide the West's unity against Russia. After the invasion of Ukraine, the belief that the West is an external enemy and the main threat to the existence of the regime has only strengthened among Putin and those close to him.

SAB's observations show that Russian institutions and their coordinated influence organizations are already trying to adjust their activities to operate under the current restrictions, but so far without significant progress.

It is very likely that Russia will increasingly rely on influence activities from its territory in the future. Russia's approach to the West is currently characterized by the Kremlin's assumption that in the long term the societies of the Western countries will not be able to withstand the economic problems caused by the confrontation and the Western countries will be forced to reduce sanctions against Russia.

One example of this Russian approach is its current energy policy. Russia has been reducing the supply of energy products to European countries for quite a while, thus creating an energy crisis, high prices of gas and oil products and general concerns about a possible shortage of energy resources.

Russia has turned energy into a weapon that allows direct economic damage to European countries. There are also negative consequences for Russia itself, which loses the European market in this way, but Putin's regime is ready to suffer economic losses in the name of geopolitical goals.