Wednesday, 2 April 2008

NATO and Energy Security

Radio Free Europe has published two pieces on the advisability or otherwise of NATO treating energy supplies from Russia as a common defence issue. Here two American analysts, one from the right-wing American Enterprise Institute and the other from the centrist CSIS debate the issue:

In favour: Ida Garibaldi

With Russia aggressively seeking a monopoly on the distribution of natural gas to Europe, the time is ripe for Washington to push NATO into a greater role in European energy security.

Over the last two years, the Kremlin has shown that it values the political influence associated with the ownership of natural resources and their distribution in Europe as much as the economic gains that come with it. Indeed, Russia's recent use of energy to bully Ukraine and Belarus and the consequent disruptions to distribution in Europe indicate that European energy security represents a serious strategic challenge for the trans-Atlantic alliance.

Against: Andrew C. Kuchins

Ever since the Gazprom-Ukrainian gas dispute of January 2006, some have called for engaging NATO in a new mission to promote European energy security.

Even Richard Lugar (Republican, Indiana), one of the Senate's most thoughtful and experienced voices on foreign policy, in 2006 called for NATO to engage Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty in the event of the "manipulation" of the energy supply and its use as a "weapon."

Such policy prescriptions are based on faulty analyses of the problem. Furthermore, it would prove impossible to reach agreement upon, let alone implement, a solution and the process would distract NATO from far more pressing issues.

NATO leaders are due to debate this issue as part of their discussions on NATO transformation on Wednesday morning.

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