Study by Elias Langvad
The strategic role of natural gas has long coloured international relations and as a result, natural gas security has frequently remained a top concern for most governments. Since natural gas has historically been supplied through landbased pipelines, gas-importing countries have often had to rely on a limited number of suppliers. Because of their geographical position and historical past, many Central and Eastern European countries have been heavily dependent on Russia for their natural gas imports which has allowed Russia to use natural gas as a foreign policy tool to assert influence over these countries. The Czech Republic and Hungary, two countries in a similar position of being natural gas import dependent on Russia, are familiar with the problems that may arise when being too reliant on a single supplier. Russia’s decision to turn off the gas to Ukraine, which is an important transit route to the Czech Republic and Hungary, in 2006 and again in 2009 left the two countries without gas imports for a longer period of time, affecting their natural gas situation in various ways. The incidents showed the willingness of Russia to use its natural resources as a tool to assert influence, and revealed the insecurity of relying on a single source for natural gas supply.