Europe & Eurasia Geopolitics & Energy Security Russia Ukraine


March 14, 2024

Reducing Europe’s reliance on Russian energy imports: Key strategies under five scenarios

By Richard L. Morningstar, András Simonyi, Olga Khakova, and Paddy Ryan

The war in Ukraine is entering a critical phase. The heavy hits to the Russian economy, the country’s diminished energy markets position, and the hundreds of thousands Russian troops dead and wounded have not deterred Russian President Vladimir Putin’s imperialistic agenda. Meanwhile, Ukrainians have continued to confront Russian aggression, bolstered by aid from the West.

That support, however, is being tested. New conflicts around the world are forcing the alliance to become more cognizant of the limits to its resources and of members’ domestic political will. Critically, Russia’s energy war is pressuring electorates’ will to continue support for Ukraine across the West, as energy price inflation remains a persistent risk. Elections in 2024 may become referenda in part on Western publics’ appetites to continue to support Ukraine.


Sign up for PowerPlay, the Atlantic Council’s bimonthly newsletter keeping you up to date on all facets of the energy transition.

The democratic world must take every reasonable step to ensure that Ukraine survives as a sovereign democracy with its internationally recognized territory intact. Secondarily, the forces of democracy must consider the future of energy balances in Europe and Russia’s role in global energy markets. Diversification from Russian flows is not guaranteed in perpetuity without a transatlantic strategy with realistic pathways for implementation.

To better understand how the war’s conclusion—or lack thereof—will impact the options available to transatlantic policymakers, this report analyzes European security across five general scenarios—a Ukrainian victory, a negotiated settlement, a frozen conflict, a protracted conflict, and a Russian victory—and aims to understand the impacts of the war’s potential outcomes on transatlantic energy security, in order to propose strategies for dealing with the unique fallout from each scenario.



The Global Energy Center develops and promotes pragmatic and nonpartisan policy solutions designed to advance global energy security, enhance economic opportunity, and accelerate pathways to net-zero emissions.