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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Beware the Russian bear : the effect of energy insecurity on perceptions of Russia in postcommunist Europe Carter, Ryan


This thesis analyzes the effect energy insecurity has on perceptions of Russian interference in postcommunist Europe. It operationalizes energy insecurity as the level of energy dependence and hypothesizes a positive relationship between this and concerns of Russian interference: the more energy dependent a country is, the more it worries about Russian interference. The first section of this thesis explicates and defines energy insecurity as part of a trilemma wherein a state has unaffordable, unreliable, or undiversified energy prone to domestic and or foreign politicization. The second section tests energy insecurity’s effect on concerns over Russian interference by creating a new metric: ‘net dependence’. This metric goes beyond existing literature to consider energy production and exports in conjunction with Russian imports. However, contrary to the primary hypothesis, the second section finds that the relationship between energy dependence and fears over Russian interference is inverse: the more energy dependent a country is, the less it worries over Russian interference. Macro-level alternative variables find similar results. The third section examines three case studies: Poland, Romania, and Hungary. These cases show the importance of history, contemporary politics, and the legacy of the post-Soviet transition as key to perceptions of Russian threat and the severity of a state’s energy insecurity. Energy insecurity is more complex than previously considered and can be attenuated by domestic production or exacerbated by excessive exportation. Furthermore, its effect on concerns over Russian interference are contextually based.

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