The tug of war. Russia's response to changes on the European gas market
Russia, being aware of the evolution of the EU gas market and the fluctuations in trends that accompany it, and in an attempt to maintain its position on the European gas market, is sticking to a dichotomous strategy. On the one hand, Moscow has taken an offensive approach: it continues its traditionally critical rhetoric with regard to the legal and institutional changes; by negating the legitimacy of the new rules, it has been making efforts to undermine them by employing legal and political measures; Russia has used such traditional economic means as investments in assets and pushing through the implementation of new gas pipeline construction projects. On the other hand, the evolution of the EU gas market has forced Russia to take steps to adapt to a certain extent: partial changes in the operation of the internal gas sector; promises to further curb Gazprom’s dominant position; the concessions made in trade negotiations with European partners; partial adjustments to the EU’s so called third energy package regulations.
Hoping that the unfolding situation on the gas markets will contribute to slowing down the recent liberalisation tendencies in the EU and that EU member states won’t make progress in decreasing their dependence on Russian gas, Moscow is thus preparing itself for the ‘long game’ in gas with its European partners.