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  • Author: Giedrius Česnakas x
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Energy Resources in Foreign Policy: A Theoretical Approach

This article examines which theory of international relations is best suited for the analysis of energy resources in international relations. The article suggests that realism paradigm theories might provide a useful starting point from a descriptive method in the studies of energy resources in foreign policy. The idealism paradigm downplays the strategic importance of energy resources, and suggests simplified view that statesmen are economically rational actors. Realism suggests that energy resources are power elements included in states' foreign policy when states seek to expand influence abroad. Detailed examination of classical realism, neorealism, defensive realism, offensive realism and neoclassical realism suggests that neoclassical realism allows extend the analysis of energy resources' role in states foreign policy. Interactions and variables in neoclassical realism suggest the broadest explanations and predictions.


The article provides an explanation of how energy resources become instruments in Russia’s foreign policy towards countries-consumers at the same time indicating elements determining the efficiency of energy instruments to reach Russia’s foreign policy goals. The article argues that Russia expanded its state power in energy sector through direct and indirect mobilisation. There are two types of energy instruments - sway and compel. The effectiveness of energy instruments depends on barriers country-consumer has. Instruments may have positive targeted and foreseen as well untargeted and unforeseen negative consequences for Russia and countries-consumers in Post-Soviet space especially focusing on Belarus and Ukraine.


The article argues that technological innovations change war, and pushes to innovate, to rethink strategic, operational and tactical decisions which raise new issues of moral and legal impacts. Small states have to redefine their defence concerning major technological trends. Technological progress will only strengthen the polycentric system in military technology because war is waged in six domains; small states do not have access to all of them, and at the same time they lack financial and industrial capabilities. Artificial intelligence, the increasing role of cyber and informational elements, unmanned systems, 3D printing and changing battlefield force to adapt the defence of small states. Small states have to plan their defence in three periods – peace, attack until full occupation and resistance. Technological innovations for the defence of small states are important, but the most crucial element is preparation of military and society for total resistance with the focus on denying victory for the aggressor. Small states cannot compete with technologically advanced powers (in terms of arms quality and quantity), so they have to adapt by expanding their fighting force, adapt to defend in the areas which decrease technological advantage and increase uncertainty. Small states also have to approach defence more creatively by exploiting non-conventional instruments, focusing on capabilities to fight without clear command and control, investing in personal skills of officers and soldiers, as well as maintaining symbiotic relations with technologically superior allies.


The article analyses how responsible decision makers (Members of the Parliament and employees in the Governmental institutions) adopt their decisions on the issues concerning energy security of Lithuania. The article is based on a constructivist security approach. The article explores what the main challenges and threats to Lithuanian energy security are, as identified by responsible decision makers. The article analyses how the concept of “energy security” is perceived by responsible decision makers. Additionally, the article identifies the groups that most influence the positions of the responsible decision makers. Finally, it is stated that energy nationalism dominates the thinking of responsible decision makers, which is perceived as a way to increase energy security.


Over the past twenty years, the biggest challenge to the national security of the independent states from the Baltic to the Black Sea region has been in the energy sector. The problem has mostly been the failure to secure stable energy resource provisions. This is mostly due to systemic and historical as well as internal political factors. This paper examines the problems related to the energy security of the following three ex-Soviet bloc countries: Lithuanian, Belarus and Ukraine. The main energy problem areas discussed here are oil and natural gas resources. Because the three countries have pursued very different internal and foreign security policies, their energy needs are equally divergent. Therefore, the paper presents case study for each state. Each case study, firstly, identifies a number of possible threats to energy security, secondly, examines the influences that these threats may exact on national as well as foreign policies and, thirdly, discusses how different national and foreign policies influence the resolution of energy security problems.


The article argues that despite the evident link between political environment and security of energy supply, political elements are not sufficiently represented in contemporary scientific literature, namely in indexes that are designed for the assessment of security of energy supply. In an attempt to fill this gap, the article presents an innovative methodology for quantitative assessment of the political vulnerabilities on security of energy supply and applies it to the analysis of the Baltic States.

The proposed index determines the plausibility of the occurrence of threats of a political nature on the security of energy supply and defines it as political vulnerability. The application of index methodology to an analysis of the Baltic States has revealed that the overall political vulnerability on security of energy supply is the highest in Lithuania, considerably lower in Latvia, and the lowest in Estonia. The analysis has shown that political vulnerability has increased in Lithuania due to the closure of Ignalina NPP and an increase in energy import quantities from politically unstable countries, such as Russia. On the contrary, political vulnerabilities on the security of the energy supply have decreased in Latvia and Estonia due to the increase of consumption of indigenous energy. However, preliminary calculations show that political vulnerabilities should decrease considerably in 2015 in Lithuania due to the diversification of the natural gas supply.