November 18, 2008, 9:00 - 10:30 AM - Hudson Institute, Washington, D.C. Headquarters
Hudson Institute's Center for Eurasian Policy
Energy, New Russian Imperialism and the Next U.S. Administration
DR. ANITA ORBÁN
Executive Director, Constellation Energy Institute
Senior Fellow and Director of Center for Eurasian Policy
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
As news of Barack Obama's election spread widely on the evening of November 4, the world's leaders paused to recognize the historic moment—with one exception. Even before most of the victory celebrations had ended, President Medvedev greeted the new administration with an unprecedented direct challenge. By announcing the installation of nuclear missile bases in its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, Russia intends to test not only the resolve of the incoming administration, but also of the EU and NATO.
While the deployment of nuclear arms to an area surrounded by EU/NATO member states represents an escalation from the conventional attack on non-NATO Georgia in August, the scope of the Russian challenge is not limited to the military arena. Thanks to its hydrocarbon reserves and to European dependence, it is energy that has been the principal instrument used by Moscow to advance its broader geopolitical goals. Although the outgoing US administration has sought to provide some leadership in the effort to develop alternatives to Russian supplies of oil and natural gas, Russia's leverage over individual European countries has thus far prevented the emergence of any common EU position on either security or commercial relations with its large eastern neighbor.
To foster informed discussion of what will likely be a primary occupation of US and EU policy for the length of the next administration, Center for Eurasian Policy director Zeyno Baran hosted Dr. Anita Orbán, Executive Director of the Constellation Energy Institute in Budapest, and the author of the recently published book Power, Energy, and the New Russian Imperialism (Praeger, 2008). Orbán examined the nature of Russian energy and foreign policy both before and during the presidency of Vladimir Putin, with an eye towards determining how it will be used in the short- to medium-term future. Baran, who is the author of a recent European Parliament-commissioned study on the Russian South Stream pipeline and a frequently-cited analyst of Russian foreign policy in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, framed this discussion in light of recent political developments in both Brussels and Washington. On an issue for which the incoming administration does not even benefit from the traditional "honeymoon" in which to formulate its foreign policy priorities, both speakers will suggest ways for the United States to respond to Russia's challenge.
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