The Merging of Energy Security and Security: The Russia-Urkaine Disputes and the In Americas Attack

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GR:EEN Policy Brief 35
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Energy security and security issues seem to be increasingly inter-twined in today’s international relations.  How  are global and  European discourses  on wider  as  well  as  more  traditional security  and  energy inter-linked?  Which challenges  are  policy-makers  faced  with in  dealing  with  this? Central  to  the  emergence  of energy  on  the  security  agenda  are  the  debates  about  shifting  global  power  patterns.  Rising  or emerging powers  (especially  the BRICS:  Brazil,  Russia,  India,  China and South  Africa)  are  improving their  status internationally - hence the label ‘rising’ powers - through a  combination  of  fast-growing  economies, resources  and a certain degree of acceptance of the liberal order  (China and Russia, however, are already substantial  military  powers and  oppose  the liberal  order). In  Europe,  this  debate  has  been particularly focused on the return of Russia as an aspiring great power, a status that is in part a result of increased state revenue from its vast  energy resources. The discursive linking of energy security and ‘realist’ power politics also has contributed to empowering Russia and its return as a regional and global actor, some argue. The past months’ crisis between Russia and Ukraine, also indirectly involving  Europe  and  the  West,   definitely has put the issue of energy security on the international and European agenda.

Seeking to address how energy and security have been connected in discourse and practical policy, two cases stand out as particularly illustrative: the Russia - Ukraine gas  crises , which have recently acquired a  more  traditional security  dimension ,  and the  2013  attack on  the   Statoil  facility in Algeria, linking energy extraction, energy security and terrorism. Whereas the former is an example  where  energy  is  being used, strategically  to  put  political pressure  on  another  country and to demonstrate  power internationally ,  the latter  is  an  example  of  how  petroleum  extraction is a  high  profile  business  engagement  and a potential target for terrorism, especially in  high-risk’ areas. Both cases are likely to have direct impact on future energy flows to Europe as well as on EU energy policy in the long - and in the short -term and are therefore interesting in any discussion on how energy, energy security , and wider as well as ‘hard’ security concerns are interlinked .