For much of the past year, and since his invasion of Ukraine last February, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been riding high on his supposed energy omnipotence, holding the global economy hostage to his whims. Since last summer, Putin has choked off natural gas supplies to Europe, hoping that Europeans, shivering and without heat during the winter, would turn on their leaders and make it politically infeasible to continue support for Ukraine.
The threat was potent: In 2021, a whopping 83 percent of Russian gas was exported to Europe. Russia’s total global exports of 7 million barrels of oil a day and 200 billion cubic meters (bcm) of piped gas a year accounted for about half of its federal revenue. Even more importantly, Russia’s commodities exports played a crucial role in global supply chains: Europe was reliant on Russia for 46 percent of its total gas supply, with comparable levels of dependence on other Russian products including metals and fertilizer.