As the crisis in Crimea continues to heat up, four European nations are worried that Russia will cut off supplies to natural gas. On March 8, Reuters reported that many in the region worry about access to natural gas since Gazprom, a Russian state gas company controls access for several Central European countries.
Many are calling for natural gas relief from the United States. They want the gas imported so that a Russian gas embargo won't mean lights out for the Ukraine as well as Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia.
A good amount (more than 50%) of Russian natural gas exports flow through the Ukraine, leading other countries to worry about access to the much needed resource. In 2009, a similar issue plagued Russia and the Ukraine regarding natural gas that led to Russia cutting off the supply for a short time.
Gazprom's biggest European customers are Germany and the Ukraine. Russia produces as much as 60% of the natural gas used in the Ukraine and is a large supplier for other parts of Europe as well. If the United States chooses to export natural gas into the region, this could weaken Russia's hold over much of Europe. Many countries rely on Russia for natural gas and if given another option, Russia would lose a good amount of power.
Although Russia is threatening to stop shipping gas to the Ukraine under the guise of unpaid bills, there is certainly more to the story. In a defiant act against the United Nations, Russia invaded Crimea, a region of the Ukraine, recently. Although many countries including the United States have condemned the act, the region of Crimea seems to be voting to move to Russian rule.