Russia has attempted to create a sphere of influence over other former Soviet States through the threat and use not just of military action, but increasingly through the use of foreign policy tools such as energy, says a new report by the British parliament’s Defence Committee.
The report, “Russia: A New Confrontation?”, states that Russia has valid interests in those countries that surround it, but to allow undue Russian influence in these countries would risk increasing Russian assertiveness and possibly compromise the sovereignty of these states.
The report draws attention to the security concerns of Russia’s neighbours that have arisen as a result of Russia’s actions in Georgia. The Committee recommends that NATO maintain a visible military presence in the Baltic States to reassure its Central and Eastern European members.
Noting 80% of Russian oil exports and 60% of its gas exports go to Europe, the report urged the British government to give priority to developing the Nabucco pipeline. The pipeline aims to reduce European dependence on Russian gas by bringing Caspian and Middle Eastern gas to Europe.
“The British government should adopt a hard-headed approach to engagement with Russia, based on the reality of Russia’s foreign policy rather than abstract and misleading notions of shared values,” said James Arbuthnot, Conservative MP and Chairman of the Defence Committee.