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Pipeline Politics between Europe and Russia: A Historical Review from the Cold War to the Post-Cold War
The Korean Journal of International Studies 14-1 (April 2016), 105-29
Published online April 30, 2016
© 2016 The Korean Association of International Studies.

Jae-Seung Lee and Daniel Connolly [Bio-Data]
Correspondence to: Jae-Seung Lee(corresponding author;
Daniel Connolly(first author;
Received October 27, 2015; Revised December 14, 2015; Accepted January 5, 2016.
This work was supported by a research grant from KU-KIEP-SBS EU Centre at Korea University, which was funded by the European Union.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
This paper conducts a historical survey of bilateral energy transactions during the Cold War and the early years of the post-Cold War period to uncover the origins of today’s pipeline politics between Europe and Russia. Gas pipelines from Russia to Europe are doubly perceived as a symbol of Russia’s status as an energy superpower and Europe’s dependence on Russian supply. Fears of a Soviet/Russian ‘energy weapon’ date back to the beginning of East-West energy transactions, but the concept always has been of limited utility. A historical analysis of East-West energy transactions reveals that Russia’s energy weapon is a complicated and multifaceted phenomenon. Cold War pipeline projects were institutions reflecting the aligned economic interests of Soviet and European policymakers, as well as their shared norms on how international energy flows should be organized and maintained. The post-Cold War period was marked by continuity as well as divergence. Western technology and capital remained a crucial factor in sustaining and expanding Russian energy infrastructure, but the new geopolitical landscape unleashed deeprooted issues of pricing, transit, and ownership among former CMEA countries. Attempts to reprogram pipeline governance on the basis of the Energy Charter Treaty have not been successful. Pipeline politics will continue to be tumultuous but are expected to remain bounded by historically-rooted interdependencies. Both sides can profit from their ongoing relationship, even though they respectively complain about a lack of energy security or demand security. Furthermore, the mutual dependencies conferred by their historical energy relationship would restrict the maneuverability both sides have when it comes to choosing more extreme measures.
Keywords : Europe, Russia, Soviet Union, Pipeline, Energy, Cold War

17-1 (April 2019)