Archive for the ‘pro-western’ Category

Ukraine needlessly pokes Russia

January 16, 2009

As in 2006, many in Europe are again shivering through a dispute between Russia and Ukraine over natural-gas prices. But if only money were at stake, this row would be easily resolved, and gas would be flowing freely to the 18 countries downstream from the pipeline disruption.

Europe receives about 25 percent of its gas from Russia, and most of it travels via Ukraine. Kiev and Moscow will talk again this weekend, but they’ll have to put aside deep political resentments if they are to reach an agreement.

From the Christian Science Monitor

Workers inspect gas tubes in the main gas station in Vodice, ... 
Workers inspect gas tubes in the main gas station in Vodice, Slovenia. Ukraine prepared Friday to host a summit of eastern European chiefs of state ahead of new talks on its gas war with Moscow, as Europe batted aside a Kremlin proposal for a summit in Moscow to resolve a feud that has left millions of Europeans freezing(AFP/Matej Leskovsek)

The gas interruption has gone on for two weeks, but the underlying tensions stretch back further: to Russia’s invasion of neighbor Georgia in August, to Ukraine’s NATO aspirations, and to its “Orange Revolution” in 2004 that set it on a westward democratic course away from Russia.

The crisis tests Russia’s role as a reliable energy supplier and responsible world player. Last week, the Monitor’s View suggested that if Russia held up a mirror, it would see that its own policies exacerbate its economic and energy woes.

If Russia hadn’t spent a gusher on renationalizing its energy sector, for instance, monolith Gazprom wouldn’t be so desperate to raise cash and gas prices. If the hefty bear weren’t so belligerent toward its neighbors, Ukraine might not now have its own hackles up.

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Russia’s Real Gas Pain is Pro-Western Ukraine

January 14, 2009

The feud between Russia and Ukraine over natural gas prices and transit fees has left large swaths of Europe without heat. Yet, what is baffling is that the dispute has always seemed overly technical and easily resolved, if there was the slightest desire on either side. After all, both countries stand to profit from selling fuel to Europe.

By Andrew Kramer
The New York Times

The latest agreement collapsed Tuesday, in a familiar cacophony of complaints and countercomplaints, and again over a seemingly trivial issue. With European Union monitors along the pipeline to make sure that Ukraine did not divert any gas for its own use, Russia agreed to resume shipments to Europe.

But rather than repressuring the Ukrainian pipeline system for exports, Russia’s gas monopoly, Gazprom, ordered a single test shipment to see if it would pass through Ukraine to Europe, through a pipeline that was being used to supply the Ukrainian city of Odessa. Ukrainian authorities refused, saying they did not want to cut supplies to their own people, and Russia again halted shipments — not, some experts believed, reluctantly.

Political experts say that neither side is motivated to settle the dispute, because it has never been about the stated issues. Instead, it has been a proxy for far more fundamental and insoluble matters, particularly Ukraine’s 2004 turn to the West in the “Orange Revolution,” which deeply shook Russia’s nationalists.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin inspects the inside of ... 
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin inspects the inside of the central control room at the Gazprom headquarters in Moscow. EU leaders kept up pressure Wednesday on Russia and Ukraine to resolve their gas dispute after an attempt to resume transit supply failed to deliver gas to European consumers.(AFP/Alexander Nemenov)

“The Russian side is appealing to a lot of technical details to explain why it still wants the conflict to go on,” Vladimir S. Milov, president of the Institute of Energy Policy in Moscow and a former deputy energy minister of Russia, said in a telephone interview.

“It’s very clear to see the desire to pressure the Ukrainian politicians, and pressure them that if they continue to pursue a pro-Western course and not adhere to the rules imposed by Moscow on the post-Soviet space, they will face difficulties,” he said.

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