Twice in the past 10 years, Russia has curtailed gas to the Ukraine and in doing so gas to the Western Europe. This should have been a wake up call to Western European nations. Although some steps have been taken to by-pass the gas pipeline through the Ukraine, there has been no high priority strategic plan to diversify away from excessive dependence on Russia. Europe depends on imports for more half of its energy consumption. Russia provides about 30% of its gas and 35% of its oil.
Liberals in Europe and America may now be reaping the reward of their unwise policies: 1) appeasement of the Russian bear (think of Obama and his ludicrous Russia 'reset') and 2) diminishing of military strength in favor of social spending. And, although they need more alternative energy supplies, much of Western Europe has banned the perfectly safe "fracking" technology that has brought a windfall to the USA. How smart is that in light of current events?
Instead Germany and Western Europe has focused on expensive and uneconomic "Green" energy. I have commented how Germany's electricity costs are 3 times higher than the US average, in part because of solar subsidies. Germany, at 50 degrees North latitude and, having long and cloudy winters, is ill-suited for expensive solar photovoltaic energy, for example. And Germany has partially shut-down many of it's nuclear power plants and has vowed to shut down the rest. Remember, that once a nuclear power plant is built and the capital cost sunk, the cost of power is nearly free!
There is also a natural tendency of Liberals to shrink the military. This is as true for Liberals in America and in Europe. Just the other day, Obama announced that he is reducing our army staffing to 1940 levels and letting our navy shrink through attrition. (I find that odd since Obama has shown no concern regarding US budget deficits whatsoever. It appears that he is just systematically weakening America in every way possible.)
Europe is not much better. As recently as 2010, Robert Gates warned the Europeans of the folly of unwise military spending cuts in a still-dangerous world. From the Guardian in 2010,
Gates told a Washington meeting of Nato officials and security experts "the pacification of Europe" had gone too far.
"The demilitarisation of Europe, where large swaths of the general public and political class are averse to military force and the risks that go with it, has gone from a blessing in the 20th century to an impediment to achieving real security and lasting peace in the 21st." He continued "Not only can real or perceived weakness be a temptation to miscalculation and aggression, but … the resulting funding and capability shortfalls make it difficult to operate and fight together to confront shared threats."Only 4 out of 28 European countries have military budgets greater than 2% of GDP.
In summary, Europe suddenly finds itself with it's "ass in a ringer" with the 'surprise' aggression from Russia. Europe has a substantial reliance on energy from Russia, in part due to their emphasis on pie-in-the-sky "green energy" and the pooh-poohing "fracked" energy supplies. Also there has been a steady movement in W. Europe and America to reduce military expenditures and military preparedness. America's recoil from it's costly wars and retreat to isolationism is probably another factor. Finally, there is little doubt that most enemies of the US view Obama as being weak and naive. All of these trends may have 'encouraged' Russian aggression.