Last year, the Kremlin depended on this single company for 15 per cent of its tax revenues. Gazprom, in turn, depended on gas sales to Europe for most of its export earnings, which totalled $72.4bn last year, while supplies to the world beyond the former Soviet Union accounted for $52.8bn.
Meanwhile, a string of European countries, particularly the Kremlin’s former satellite states, depend on Gazprom for between 80 and 100 per cent of their natural gas imports. Just as the Russian energy giant must sell its wares, so these countries have nowhere else to turn if they are to keep their lights on. Mutual interdependence locks together Gazprom, the Russian state and European gas consumers.