NATO must be prepared to confront a new challenge, the manipulation of energy as a weapon, Senator Richard Lugar, R-Ind., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Tuesday at NATO's annual summit in Riga, Latvia.
The energy wars Russia is waging against NATO members should be equated to an armed attack and given an adequate response, he said.
But Russian experts do not think Lugar's appeal will be heeded, because it would be economically unprofitable for the West to fight such "wars" against Russia.
According to Lugar, "its recent actions to temporarily reduce gas supplies to the West, confiscate some foreign energy investments, and create further barriers to new investment are undermining confidence in Moscow's reliability." Therefore, NATO should "adopt energy security as a mission" in order to repel any attempt at energy intervention.
These militant statements have not alarmed Russian experts.
Sergei Markov, director of the Moscow-based Institute for Political Studies, said Russia was not waging energy wars but was only trying to streamline its trade.
"In the past, we could hope to create an economic alliance with the CIS countries, but the West, alarmed by the idea, has convinced some of them not to form a new USSR by promising them a life of bliss with cheap energy. But now that Russia is raising its energy prices, the West is again alarmed and is threatening to respond accordingly," Markov said.
Agvan Mikaelyan, deputy director general of the FinEkspertiza auditing and consulting group, said Russia is only protecting its national interests.
"Such relations can be compared to marketing wars, but there is no political undercurrent, only the principle of competition, which is part of any market economy," he said.
Referring to NATO's possible response, Mikaelyan said that there would be no political or economic sanctions against Russia. Moreover, he said that the European Union should be viewed as a potential ally of Russia, because the EU is interested in exchanging money and technology for energy.