Winter is coming

Hellenic Leaders
4 min readDec 7, 2023

Since the beginning of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, Western policy has been focused on preventing Vladimir Putin’s weaponization of energy. Last winter was mild, so Europe’s preparedness measures for adverse conditions in Ukraine were not tested at their limit. This winter may not bring the same luck.

Alexandroupolis LNG floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) (Source: Svitzer)


For years, particularly since the invasion of Crimea in 2014, Greece has led Europe in moving its infrastructure away from dependence on Russian energy and toward continental interconnectivity. In 2016, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary agreed to begin working on the Vertical Gas Corridor, a system of pipelines allowing bidirectional gas flows between northern and southern Europe.

The Vertical Gas Corridor (source: Energynomics)

On October 1, 2022, a second gas link between Greece and Bulgaria called the IGB began full operation. These are just two networks that have helped bring about serious changes in Europe’s energy landscape. In 2021, 83% of the EU’s gas was imported, and close to half of that gas was Russian. Now, Europe has drastically reduced its dependence on Russian pipelines and has invested in an integrated continental grid.

Expert analysis

If you think of the energy flows of the 2030s and 40s, they will connect the sunny South with the windy North…That North-South interconnection is going to provide a great balance for the European grid.

Nikos Tsafos, The Greek Current, “Greece’s plan to overhaul the EU’s power grid ahead of green transition,” March 23, 2023

Recent developments

In addition to the growing continental infrastructure, liquified natural gas (LNG) has emerged as an energy alternative that offers more freedom regarding delivery and sourcing. Greece has been a major participant in Europe’s LNG buildout. On January 1, 2024, the Alexandroupolis LNG floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) will begin operating. The FSRU will receive liquified natural gas by ship delivery where it will be processed into natural gas and hence contribute to Greece’s energy needs and Europe’s larger energy network. The EU imports almost half of its LNG from the United States and a significant proportion from Qatar, so the development of FSRU facilities like Alexandroupolis only serves to enhance Europe’s capacity to accommodate diverse energy sources. Furthermore, Greece’s regional leadership with this high-capacity FSRU gives its neighbors in the Balkans more options for energy diversification and ultimately facilitates Europe’s divorce from Russian energy.

We see gas and LNG as a key aspect of our shared interest…that’s why the Alexandroupolis project is so important…because that is a truly regional project with both Serbia and North Macedonia being contracted off-takers and a clear intention of all the regional players to leverage the Alexandroupolis FSRU as a mechanism to reduce dependence on Russian gas and develop alternatives looking to global markets.

Former US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt, Remarks at Center for the Study of Democracy, March 28, 2023

Looking forward

  • Greece and the US Agency for International Development have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will integrate the electrical markets of Greece, North Macedonia, Albania, and Kosovo, expanding Europe’s interconnectivity into the western Balkans, which have previously been seen as a bottleneck for European energy integration.
  • COP28, the UN’s conference on climate change, is taking place right now in Dubai, and among the energy options being discussed is the Copelouzos Group’s “Gregy,” a Greece-Egypt interconnector that could further diversify European energy sources and solidify Greece as a regional energy hub and key node in the North-South energy corridor.
Greece-Egypt Interconnector “Gregy” (source: Copelouzos Group)
  • Due to geographic factors, the nations of the eastern Balkans and the Black Sea have historically been locked away from non-Russian energy sources. Increased interconnectivity infrastructure combined with new FSRUs like the one at Alexandroupolis sets Europe on the path to complete decoupling from Russian energy.



Hellenic Leaders

The nation’s fastest-growing Hellenic diaspora organization. Join us at