Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I believe less fuss about the latest Gazprom actions can be explained, in part, by the diminished demand for energy on the global scale.

On the other note, I lived in the former USSR for a good chunk of my life, and I absolutely agree that the executive branch of power in each post-soviet nation has much more control over the economy (and the other branches as well) than it is realized by the Westerners. Power equals money there, so there is a permanent struggle between veterans and newcomers for influence where it really matters.

Anyway, in the recent TV interview Alexander Medvedev, the Director-General of Gazprom Export, said that the EC should seriously consider investing in alternative gas pipelines, since Ukraine was no longer a reliable transit route, from the Kremlin point of view. If this is the case, why Russia and Gazprom aren't trying to re-negotiate the contracts with their EU partners, to guarantee delivery to the Ukrainian border, and let the Europeans to deal with Ukraine?

by aquilon (albaruthenia at gmail dot com) on Sat Jan 3rd, 2009 at 02:45:35 PM EST
If this is the case, why Russia and Gazprom aren't trying to re-negotiate the contracts with their EU partners, to guarantee delivery to the Ukrainian border, and let the Europeans to deal with Ukraine?

If Jerome's third point is correct, both Gazprom and Ukraine would be reluctant to pass on such a source of grey cash. I, however, personally believe that EU, or rather individual companies-importers of gas, are much more comfortable pushing all Ukrainian non-payment and siphoning risks onto convenient scapegoats - Russians.

Today's reaction of Vondra, Czech vice-premier and the point-man of Czech EU presidency, is very telling: he said that if gas problems between Russia and Ukraine continue, EU could use either north or south route of getting it. In the north, he meant North Stream, in the south Central Asia and Middle East countries. Gazprom proposes finishing North Stream and utilizing South Stream to the full at this point.

by Sargon on Sat Jan 3rd, 2009 at 03:14:55 PM EST
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The coverage of Nord Stream in Sweden is absolutely fascinating. Obviously, there's no coverage of any kind of the real situation, like the one Jerome presents above.

Instead, the media view is that the notorious Russians are up to something evil, though there is no clear idea exactly what this might be. Everything from spying (the compressor tower off Gotland should allegedly be used, and the poor flailing Gazprom people panickly promised that it would be crewed only by Germans, and that we could inspect it whenever we liked, total farce!), preparing an invasion of Sweden (Gazprom is upgrading a harbour on Gotland to support the pipe laying, clearly a ruse for making it able to accept roro ships full of tanks...) to undermining the independence of the Baltic nations or the democratic (TM) Ukraine is proposed, and not only by crackpots but in official reports from the military, government institutions to green NGO's who think the pipeline will disturb WWII vintage chemical weapons on the sea floor (unlike all those telecommunication lines, or the gaspipes and powerlines in the Western Baltic?) etc etc.

It's all fantastically stupid, and the media people are so bloody incompetent that they can't see they are being played by a number of domestic special interests, like the military (the pipe is just a cover for increasing the Russian naval presence in the Baltic!), the pro-Baltic hawks, the biofuel industry and the power industry.

And the scary thing is that everyone believes these things, even smart and politically very aware people. I don't know about the senior politicians, but I wouldn't be surprised if they also believe the above.

The actions of the current and former Swedish governments speaks for themselves on this issue: while they have not formally opposed it on geostrategic grounds or anything like that, they have slowed it and obstructed as much as they can by showering the poor Russians with environmental reviews, planning permissions, demanding they cinsider alternate routes (like through the Ukraine and Poleand!), returning the papers saying they weren't good enough because of all kinds of formal bureaucratic resaons, and to top it off the government has repeatedly said that this is not a political issue but a strictly legal one, blah blah blah.


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sat Jan 3rd, 2009 at 10:10:05 PM EST
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