Energy, geopolitics and the war in Ukraine

This event examines how the deep history of the politics of energy helps explain the current war in Ukraine.

Research event
22 March 2022 — 8:30AM TO 9:30AM
Chatham House 10 St James’s Square London SW1Y 4LE United Kingdom

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there has been much discussion about the geopolitics of energy as the European Union, United Kingdom and United States have imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia. Since 2014, sanctions have excluded the energy sector, but the United States has now imposed a ban on the import of Russian oil and the EU may now even take significant steps to reduce its dependence on Russian gas – with potentially huge effects for the European and in particular the German economy.

However, as Helen Thompson shows in her new book Disorder: Hard Times in the Twenty-First Century, the centrality of energy to geopolitics is nothing new. Rather, there is a much deeper history that goes back to the transition from coal to oil and the rise of American power in the twentieth century and helps us to understand the current fault lines in international politics – and also the democratic shocks we have experienced during the last decade.

  • How does the history of energy help us understand the war in Ukraine?
  • How feasible is it for Europe to reduce its dependence on Russian gas?
  • How will the increasing dependence of the United States in energy terms change its foreign policy?
  • How will the climate transition change the geopolitics of energy?

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