Europeans Worries About Reliance on Russian Energy Were Already High

  • January 15, 2009
  • By Erin Carrier-Kretschmer and Katie Holzwart

As Russian and Ukrainian leaders squabbled over gas supplies in late 2008 and early 2009, Eastern Europeans farther down the pipeline went without heat. European Commissioner Jose Manuel Barroso called the dispute "most unacceptable and incredible," although it was clearly not unprecedented. In 2006, just as today, a price and payment dispute between Russia and Ukraine led to gas supplies being cut-off to Ukraine. Both Eastern and Western Europeans are vulnerable to these disputes because they rely heavily on Russian gas supplies, most of which are pumped through Ukraine. In fact, many Eastern European countries now rely on Russia for a majority of their gas supplies while about a quarter of Western European supplies are Russian exports.

Not surprisingly, the Pew Global Attitudes poll found that majorities in a number of Western and Eastern European nations were concerned about their country's reliance on Russian energy. Moreover, worries about Russian energy dependence became more common between 2007 and 2008.

Just as public concern about energy dependence has become widespread, so too have unfavorable views of Russia and increasingly critical views of Russia's current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. And surveys show a clear linkage between concern about energy dependence and unfavorable views of Russia.

Read the full commentary Europeans Worries About Reliance on Russian Energy Were Already High on the Pew Research Center's Web site.