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Rogue states have long plagued the modern world. From Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan before and during World War Two to North Korea and Syria in the modern-day, these countries have always existed and will continue to exist. However, the world has been able to deal with these countries through diplomatic isolation, economic sanctions, and sometimes even military intervention. But how would the world respond to a rogue state capable of ending the world? It is currently answering this question in its response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The strongest responses have come from NATO members and other countries closely aligned with the US, consisting of sending military equipment to Ukraine, closing airspace, and imposing economic sanctions. But this response from Europe was due eight years ago when Russia annexed Ukraine, and now Europe is paying the price for its complicity in Russia’s aggression.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Europe has seen Russia commit atrocities, violate the sovereignty of multiple countries, and support murderous autocratic regimes; but instead of responding forcefully, Europe has repeatedly turned a blind eye. The West saw Russia massacre Chechnian civilians and turn Grozny into rubble but did nothing. The West saw Russia invade Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014 but did nothing. The West saw Russia kill thousands of civilians in Syria in support of a brutal dictator and crush pro-democracy protests in Kazakhstan, killing hundreds of protesters, but once again did nothing. Prompting this inaction is the European dependence on Russian natural gas and oil.

According to the EU, 45 percent of its natural gas and 25 percent of its oil come from Russia. If Europe were to take an excessively antagonistic position on Russia’s actions, their precious gas and oil could disappear. These nations still condemned Russia’s actions. For example, the West strongly condemned the destruction of Grozny and their general treatment of civilians during the 2nd Chechen war, but the West did not actually DO anything; they continued to buy Russian gas and oil. The same thing happened in both 2008, during the Russian invasion of Georgia, and in 2014, during the annexation of Crimea. The West strongly condemned Russia but took no meaningful action to wean themselves off Russian energy dependence. Since the invasion of Ukraine, European NATO nations have sent about 1.5 billion dollars of military equipment to Ukraine but have paid Russia over 25 billion dollars for energy imports during the invasion. That money directly funds the Russian military. Until Europe frees itself from its dependence on Russian energy, its condemnations and actions mean nothing.

For years the West has known Russia is a state that consistently breaches international law, murders civilians, and violates the territorial integrity of its neighbors, yet the EU pays Russia 110 billion dollars a year for their gas. Only when Europe is fully energy independent from Russia can it truly stand against Russia in a meaningful way.