A meter shows zero level pressure in a Hungarian oil pipeline after Russia stopped shipments in 2007.
Laszlo Balogh / Courtesy Reuters

Earlier this month, as Europeans watched Russian soldiers move into Crimea, they shuddered at the thought of the cold months remaining before spring, fearful that the crisis would cause pipeline gas deliveries from Russia -- on which many European countries depend and which mostly transit through Ukraine -- to stop. Foremost in their minds was the 2009 Ukraine gas crisis, when a disagreement between Russia and Ukraine over payments disrupted gas supplies in many European countries and left scores without heat in the middle of winter.

Since then, European countries have made progress securing their gas supplies, including by improving pipeline infrastructure within Europe so that gas can flow more easily among European states. But Europe remains vulnerable. Supply has something to do with that, but even more challenging in the long run are Europe’s unhelpful energy policies, defaulting utilities, and rising coal consumption. They explain why Europe does not

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  • BRENDA SHAFFER is a Visiting Researcher at the Center for Eurasian, Russian, and Eastern European Studies at Georgetown University.
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