Quick reminder: Russia is a petro state

A sign for a BP filling station is pictured in central London on October 30, 2012. BP posted earnings far stronger than expected and hiked its dividend as the British energy giant prepared for a new Russia adventure after being rocked by the devastating Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
A sign for a BP filling station is pictured in central London on October 30, 2012. BP posted earnings far stronger than expected and hiked its dividend as the British energy giant prepared for a new Russia adventure after being rocked by the devastating Gulf of Mexico oil spill. CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images

We don't think of Russia as a petro state in the same category as, say, Saudi Arabia. But we should: Russia is the world's biggest exporter of natural gas, and the second-biggest exporter of oil.

This is worth pointing out at the moment, given the talk of sanctions against Russia in response to the situation in Ukraine.

(Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration/Quoctrung Bui/NPR)

EU countries are major buyers of Russian oil and gas. And, as NPR's Krishnadev Calamur points out today, that means they may not be eager to impose sanctions on Russia.

"It is a matter of simple economics," Alex Melikishvili, senior Europe/CIS Analyst at IHS Country Risk, said in an email.

He noted that the EU is Russia's main trade partner ...

"As a result, forging a coordinated response without harming vital economic interests of EU states who are also, to a large extent, dependent on Russian gas supplies ... is a complicated and time-consuming effort," he said.

And this isn't just a problem for Europe either. As the AP reports:

"Oil prices jumped nearly two dollars a barrel Monday as Russia's military advance into Ukraine raised fears of economic sanctions against one of the world's major energy producers. Natural gas prices surged at the prospect of a decrease in global supplies."

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