The mere threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine is roiling world energy markets. Oil and gas prices are marching upward, hitting levels not seen in years. President Joe Biden is bracing Americans for the ripple effect on their wallets when they fill up their gas tanks. “I will not pretend this will be painless,” Biden said at a White House briefing on Tuesday.
Energy-hungry Europeans, meanwhile, are already facing volatility in their natural-gas markets. They could feel the pain more acutely than others if Russian President Vladimir Putin decides to attack Ukraine, and the Biden administration in turn puts sanctions in place, including a delay in approving a new natural-gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. Preventing the pipeline from going into operation could damage the Russian economy, but also could have negative impacts on Europe. So who stands to lose if the Russian-owned pipeline, known as Nord Stream 2 and which lies under the Baltic Sea, remains idled?
Russia and Germany, primarily, but if Russia took further action to stop other flows into Europe, the effects could be “catastrophic,” says Northeastern’s Julie Garey, assistant teaching professor of political science who specializes in international relations.