Despite Europe being Russia’s biggest trading partner, the bloc of countries seem unable to leverage its position to end the gas crisis. The EU has been struggling with an energy crisis since a global shortage of natural gas earlier this year.
The economic bloc – whose largest supplier of gas is Russia – had been hampered by a reduced supply.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has faced accusations that he was engineering the crisis, using the monopoly on gas in Europe to drive up prices.
Economically, however, Europe does have one major leverage over Putin.
As Russia biggest trading partner by a considerable margin, the EU is indispensable to Putin.
The bloc makes up about 40 percent of Russia’s exports, making a big part of the Russian economy dependant on their ability to sell to the EU.
According to POLITICO: “When NATO or Biden threaten economic sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine, they are actually talking about the EU reducing its trade with Russia (either by stopping gas giant Gazprom or some other means).”
However, despite what appears to be a massive bargaining chip, European countries find themselves “unable” to impose “seriously tough sanctions” on Russia.
Even for a relatively small country like Belarus, the EU delayed imposing sanctions after Cyprus blocked the plan citing the lack of EU action against Turkey.
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In 2019, when former US President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei, his office and those closely affiliated with his access to key financial resources, all major EU companies complied.
Firms like Airbus, Renault and Deutsche Bank immediately stopped conducting business in Iran, regardless of what their European governments said.
To Mr Putin, this is an indication that in order to achieve its political and economical goals in Europe, it will need to negotiate with Washington, not Paris or Berlin.
But Putin has appeared to show he is ready to defy even the US.