Kremlin’s Energy Policy as a Channel of Influence. A comparative assessment.

Case studies from Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Romania and Hungary


The EU has been increasingly caught up in its own internal struggles over the past years – migration, populism, Brexit – and is facing fundamental challenges to its core principles and values from problematic member states such as Poland, Hungary or Romania. Russia stands only to benefit from such internal divisions. As usual, Moscow has three main instruments to exert significant political influence in its “near abroad”, but also to expand it in the formerly communist Central Europe and further towards the West.

Its main weapons to do so are (i) direct military intervention and conflict fueling in ex-USSR states; (ii) “hybrid war” methods such as cyberattacks, disinformation, trolls, covert financing of extremist parties and the like; and (iii) its energy leverage.

As we noted in the previous edition of our report, the EU itself has been much more vulnerable in the early 2000s than it is today to Russia’s energy leverage. Two gas crises (2006, 2009) and the military aggression in Ukraine (2014) gave the Union a strong impetus to accelerate the integration of its energy market and push for the implementation of the Third Energy Package, a process that would have been probably much slower without this sense of urgency. Interconnections and solidarity mechanisms against energy crises were also enhanced after the EC’s timely energy security stress tests in 2014, followed shortly by the adoption of the energy security strategy.

In our report, we find strong indications of Russian abusive behavior and strong similarity across Moldova, Hungary, Romania, Georgia and Ukraine, many of which are only partly understood in the West, as well as recommendations for EU institutions.


Read the report here:


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The report was launched in Brussels on the 11th of April 2019 at the at 16.30 at the Permanent Representation of the Czech Republic to the EU (Rue Caroly 15, 1050 Brussels) in the context of  the EaP CSF Brussels Public Event Series marking 10 years anniversary of Eastern Partnership.

More information about the event can be found here.


About the authors:




Olena Pavlenko is DiXi Group’s President. Candidate of Political Science, founder of Ukrainian Energy website. She has been working in the energy sector for more than 10 years. Deputy Chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) implementation, member of the PWYP Steering Committee representing Eurasia.



Roman Nitsovych is Research Director with DiXi Group. He has a Master’s Degree in the area of political science granted by the National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” and Friedrich Schiller University (Germany), from which he graduated in 2010. Besides, in 2006 he successfully completed Prometheus Program on Transition Studies at the University of Tartu (Estonia).


As Senior Expert in Legal Issues, Denys Nazarenko takes part in numerous projects of DiXi Group. Holding B.A. in International Law from Kyiv International University (2009) and LL.M in Energy Law and Policy from University of Dundee, Scotland (2016), within DiXi Group is engaged with Ukraine’s European integration programs and collaboration with the Energy Comunity




Anastasiia Synytsia is a regional studies student at the Institute of International Relations Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. As Junior Analyst with DiXi Group, she contributes to the analytical team and takes lead in some projects, mainly those on foreign relations and security issues.




Oleksandr Yaroshchuk (StopFake) is a journalist at the Ukrainian fact-checking initiative StopFake. He is also a PhD Candidate at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.







Denis Cenușa is a Researcher at Institut für Politikwissenschaft and PhD candidate at Justus-Liebig-Universität, Germany.He is affiliated to the Independent Economic Think-tank “Expert-Grup” from Moldova, and he is a weekly contributor at the “Info-Prim” Moldovan News Agency. Denis authored and co-authored numerous analytical articles, papers, and reports. His latest co-edited books are the “Deepening EU-Moldova relations: What, Why and How?” 1st and 2nd editions, and The Struggle for Good Governance in Eastern Europe, published between 2016-2018, under the coordination of Michael Emerson, Associate Senior Researcher Fellow, CEPS.








Murman Margvelashvili is an energy sector specialist with more than 20 years of experience in regulation and governance, tariff setting, operation of distribution companies, feasibility studies and project assessment, privatization, energy sector planning, project management, training, and related fields. He is a founder and director of energy studies at WEG from 2006.




Giorgi Mukhigulishvili has been working as a lead researcher in energy and sustainability studies at WEG since 2010. His research area focuses on energy security policy and strategy analysis, energy system modeling, planning, sustainability studies, economic and financial analysis of energy projects.



Tutana Kvaratskhelia is a Senior Analyst at WEG with 5 years of experience in energy policy research and analysis. Her research is mainly focused on Good governance and transparency in Georgian energy sector, Energy Poverty, role and functions of energy sector regulator and etc.








András Deák is Head of Research Group “Economics of Globalization” at the Institute of World Economics, HAS CERS, Budapest. He received his Diploma (MA) and his Doctorate (Ph.D.) in International Relations, in 1997 and 2003, respectively, both from the University of Economic Sciences, Hungary. His research fields cover economic processes in the Post-Soviet space, integration into the world economy and energy policy in particular. He has authored 70 publications and participates around 20-30 international academic and policy conferences, workshops. He edited 6 study books primarily on current Russian economic trends and its integration into world economy. András Deák also holds courses in different Hungarian Universities on Contemporary Russian History and Post-Soviet Regional Studies. His activities include foreign and energy policy analysis, political and corporate consultancy on Hungarian and some civil activities in energy conservation.


Sandor Lederer is co-founder and director of K-Monitor, a watchdog NGO for public funds in Hungary. K-Monitor was founded in 2007 with the aim of raising awareness about the issues of corruption and to bring a new level of transparency in the field of governance for the purpose of fostering democracy and the rule of law in Hungary. K-Monitor runs technology projects, conducts research and advocates for legal reform. Sandor Lederer worked as the local research country correspondent for the EC’s anti-corruption report, is a GMF alumnus and an Obama fellow. He is member of the international advisory board of Fundacja ePanstwo (Poland). Sandor holds an MA in International Studies from the Budapest Corvinus University.


Since 2014 Dániel Bartha is the director of the Budapest based non-profit and non-partisan think tank Centre for Euro-Atlantic Integration and Democracy. He has a background in democracy assistance and foreign and security policy. From 2006 until 2012 he worked at the International Centre for Democratic Transition (ICDT) in various positions, among others as a Programme Manager and Director for Development. After leaving the Center for Democracy Public Foundation where Dániel held the position of the Vice President for Strategy, he joined in 2012 the Bratislava based Central European Policy Institute (now: GLOBSEC Policy Institute). There he worked as an Executive Director until 2014. He holds an MA on International Relations from Corvinus University of Budapest. Currently he is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pécs. Dániel Bartha is a regular lecturer and speaker on Central European foreign and security policy.






Ana Otilia Nuțu is a policy analyst on energy and infrastructure, state-owned companies, regulators. She is a founding member at EFOR and works on energy-related projects: she organizes debates on market liberalization and corruption, monitors the quality of regulations and the governance of the regulator and the corporate governance of state-owned companies. She often appears in media with analyses and commentaries on energy. Otilia coordinates EFOR’s energy sector projects in several countries in the region (Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, Hungary, Georgia). She is the EU coordinator of WG3 – Energy and environment of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum and a member of the Steering Committee. She graduated Finance and Banking at the Academy of Economic Sciences (Bucharest) and has a Master’s Degree in Public Policy at the Central European University.



Sorin Ioniță is an expert in public administration reform, development and local affairs; consultant with the Council of Europe, World Bank and UNDP on Eastern Europe and the Balkans; former representative of Romania in the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), sections Transport-Energy and Environment-Agriculture; associate lecturer at the Maastrict School of Management (MSM). He graduated from the Bucharest Polytechnic Institute (IPB); Bucharest University; has a Master from Central European University, Budapest; former Fulbright fellow at Georgetown University, Washington DC.




Sergiu Tofilat is a senior policy analyst in energy and banking. Sergiu is a former banker and is currently the president of the NGO “Community Watchdog.md”. His key areas of specialization are money laundering and energy security. Sergiu has researched in detail corruption schemes in the energy sector in Moldova and the region. In this report, he has contributed insights in the cryptocurrency production in separatist regions in Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia and provided initial inputs for a detailed journalistic investigation in the cryptocurrency scheme in Transnistria.




Alexandru Săndulescu is a senior electrical engineer and energy policy specialist, specialized in large power systems. After thirteen years in research, he headed for more than six years the Energy Market Development Department in the Romanian Energy Regulatory Authority. For the following seven years he headed the Energy Policy Department in the Romanian Ministry of Economy / Ministry of Energy. He was EU High Level Adviser on Energy for Republic of Moldova between 2016 – 2018. Currently he is working on technical assistance projects in energy in Eastern Partnership countries. He graduated the Polytechnical University of Bucharest, Faculty of Energy.




Project financed through a grant by the National Endowment for Democracy


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