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Countering the Kremlin Playbook in the Black Sea Region


Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the EU’s energy and climate security risks have jumped to their highest level ever, while the Black Sea region remains particularly vulnerable. The swift policy action of EU countries reduced geopolitical risks by 16% year-on-year in 2022 but at the cost of doubling the risks of energy poverty in Europe.

Despite 10 rounds of economic sanctions, Russia remains a major supplier of natural gas to Europe. The short-term political interests of member states and the influence of Russian oligarchic networks in Europe have allowed Russia to continue to sell oil on the world market and to accumulate profits that finance the Russian aggression in Ukraine. Strategic decoupling from Kremlin’s economic and political influence would not be possible without targeting the state capture networks that have enabled strategic partnerships between Russian and European energy companies.

These are some of the key findings from the roundtable on Countering the Kremlin Playbook in the Black Sea Region, that took place in Sofia on 14 June 2023. CSD experts were joined in the discussion by prominent EU and U.S. energy experts, including Melanie Kenderdine, Principal of the Energy Futures Initiative, Dr. Marco Arndt, Head of the Political Education Forum in the German state of Saxony, Ana Otilia Nutu, Head of the Energy Program at the Romanian research center Expert Forum, and Olena Lapenko, Energy Security Expert at the Ukrainian institute DiXi Group.

The participants at the roundtable agreed that the EU should consider expanding the scope of sanctions to include natural gas and secondary sanctions for oil traders, shippers, and insurers enabling Russian oil sales.

Policy Roundtable: Countering the Kremlin Playbook in the Black Sea Region, 14 June, Sofia
(L-R): Victor Jack, Energy Reporter, Politico, Ruslan Stefanov, Program Director, Center for the Study of Democracy and Norbert Beckmann-Dierkes, Director, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Sofia Office
(L-R): Dr. Marco Arndt, Head, Political Education Forum, Saxony, Martin Vladimirov, Director, Energy and Climate Program, Center for the Study of Democracy and Victor Jack, Energy Reporter, Politico
Melanie Kenderdine, Principal, Energy Futures Initiative; former Counselor to the US Secretary of Energy
Ana Otilia Nutu, Head of the Energy Program, Expert Forum, Romania

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