Continued from page 1

In 2006, Moscow enacted a law granting Gazprom exclusive rights to export natural gas inside Russia. In 2007, Moscow persuaded BP oil company to sell its stake in its Siberian-owned subsidiary after Russia questioned BP’s rights to sell the gas outside of its borders.

Gazprom’s power throughout Europe is so dominant that the European Commission in 2012 filed an antitrust case against the company. The Brussels-based competition monitor opened proceedings based on “concerns that Gazprom may be abusing its dominant market position in upstream gas supply markets.”

In the ongoing probe, the European Commission is looking into whether Gazprom:

Divided gas markets “by hindering the free flow of gas across [EU] member states.”

Prevented gas supply diversification.

Imposed unfair prices by linking the price of gas to oil prices.

Russia’s energy dominance has made it virtually impossible for some U.S. allies in Western Europe to operate without some level of approval from the Kremlin.

As of 2009, Europe receives natural gas via 12 Russian pipelines, and many importers are key members of NATO including Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic.

In a 2009 European Commission report on the security of gas supplies, several pages are dedicated to setting national emergency measures in case of an energy interruption or gas shortage. Those measures are mostly preventive efforts that would not do much to resolve an immediate crisis if Mr. Putin cuts Russia’s supplies to Europe as he did to Ukraine in 2006 and 2009.

The Kremlin’s power over Europe’s energy supply places the White House in a weakened position at a time when President Obama is reversing Reagan achievements with sweeping military cutbacks and canceling European missile shields.

“This president opened the door to Putin, and Putin knew he had the power when this president made the decision not to follow on his red line on Syria. Putin knew he had him then,” Mr. Eastland said.

Jeffrey Scott Shapiro is a lawyer and investigative journalist currently reporting on the Russian Federation.