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Russian gas cuts - why there is no need to worry

by Jerome a Paris Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 09:19:37 AM EST

Update [2006-1-2 17:50:49 by Jerome a Paris]: I have hidden some of the sub-threads, as the discussion was becoming counter-productive and people were only hurting one another, mostly unvoluntarily, but in very real ways. Let's all cool off and not start this in another thread...

As expected, following its threats in recent weeks (made in order to get an increase in the price Ukraine "pays" for its gas) Russia has somewhat reduced its deliveries of gas to Ukraine, and as expected, Ukraine has retaliated by reducing transit gas to the West, thus reducing supplies to Hungary, Austria, Slovakia and other countries further downstream.

Europe is worried, and newspapers are making big headlines about a new kind of "cold war", or, more ominously, the "first war of the 21 century" (Le Monde, in French).

I have written about this extensively last week (see this diary Ukraine vs Russia: Tales of pipelines and dependence and follow the links from there) and will say it again: THERE IS NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT. Let me tell you my theory on what's going on.

Again, if you are genuinely interested in this topic and have not read it yet, go read the above-linked diary first. It will explain why I think I can write authoritatively on this topic, and it will give you a lot of background on the dispute. Plus, there are great maps!

Here they are again:
250 kb version: http://www.eurotrib.com/...
500 kb: http://www.eurotrib.com/...
Good EIA map of the region: http://www.eurotrib.com/...

Additional links (today's discussions over at Eurotrib):

Now, that said, here are a few more tidbits and some theorising.

Ukraine gets 25 bcm/y (billion cubic meter per year, that's 2.5 bcf/d in US units) from Gazprom, and about 35 bcm/y from Turkmenistan. The price which is being disputed publicly is that on the 25 bcm whereas I think that the dispute is really about who gets paid for the 35 bcm. What is never mentioned anywhere is that these 35 bcm go from Turkmenistan to Ukraine using Gazprom's pipelines, and are thus totally under the control of Gazprom's management. These 35 bcm are paid by Ukrainian consumers - at market rates - to shady companies that act as intermediaries between Ukraine and Turkmenistan but are really controlled by top Gazprom people. These companies collect a lot of money, because, as I said, the Ukrainian consumers are already paying for their gas at "real" prices (not European prices, but higher than in Russia). They are paying because the seller can enforce discipline by threatening to cut off deliveries without fear of retorsion on the transit routes to Europe, as the seller is not Gazprom. That money is split between the Turkmens (who get a smallish slice), the Ukrainians who run the distribution and enforce payments locally, and the Russians.

I suspect that since last year's election in Ukraine, tht business has been disturbed by the arrival on the scene of new players - the new team in power in Kiev. Either some of them wanted to get a slice of the pie, or President Yushenko tried to put a stop to that dirty business. I think (but I have no proof either way, this is just an educated guess) that Iushenko's first prime minister, Yulia Timoshenko was in the first group (remember, she made her fortune in that same business a few years ago, before being kicked out by a new clique, so she may well have wanted to come back in the game), and that Yushenko is in the second category. That may be naive, but I don't see any other reason for the Russians to be making that spat so public and so dangerous to themselves by bringing in Western oversight - they want to teach Yushenko a public lesson so that he will stop meddling.

The reason why the dispute is about the 25 bcm delivered by Gazprom is because these are delivered by Gazprom to the Ukrainian state company at no cost (i.e. the price is equal to the price of transport of Russian exports to Europe and there is no monetary payment) so this is the volume that the Ukrainian public authorities get to "play" with - and to distribute to the population (or friends) at subsidised prices, the rest being delivered at "real" prices. So threatening these 25 bcm is a direct attack on the Ukrainian state. But it can work ONLY if the West gets involved, because Gazprom has no leverage there (they need the export pipes even more than Ukraine needs that gas, and they ABSOLUTELY KNOW that Ukraine will divert volumes from the export quantities if Gazprom cuts off deliveries - that's what's always happened, and it duly did again this time), unless the West is somehow coaxed to blame Ukraine for the mess and puts pressure on Kiev. But this works better if the threat is not enacted, thus the long buildup in pressure over the past 3 weeks, with many public declarations to get Europeans to notice. They did notice, but wisely remained noncommittal. Now, the stakes are much higher, because gas is actually being cut, and the West will have to react.

If Europeans have any backbone, they won't pressure the Ukrainians in any way, but will tell the Russians: we have contracts with you, you deal with it. If you can't, we'll switch the contract point of sale to the Russian border (as opposed to the Czech border today) and deal with Ukrainian transit ourselves. I must say I am pleased with the US reaction which has squarely put the blame on the Russians for these games.

Gazprom is playing a very dangerous game, because they need their exports for more than their usual income (which is by no means small beer, as it represents around 25% of all hard currency income of Russia and about 10% of federal budget income) but also to borrow the funds they absolutely need to invest in their infrastructure. If this crisis lasts, Russia's reliability as a gas supplier will be compromised, and its ability to borrow money from Western banks on future receivables (i.e. the expectation of steady revenues over many years under stable contracts) will be damaged - and they vitally need that ability, and Gazprom knows it. In good times, like today, sure, they can borrow easily, but in troubled times like 1998-2001, it was the ONLY way they borrowed ANYTHING. The gas business is a very long term business, they cannot afford to lose trust for a temporary commercial advantage. And if Europe gets jittery, they may decide to build a few more LNG terminals to import African gas (from Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria or Angola) rather than pay to build another pipeline form Russia like the currently mooted Nordpipe under the Baltic Sea to Germany.

In the end, I expect the usual fudge for public consumption: a compromise whereby gas "prices" will be increased, but a bit less than the Russians asked for; gas transit "fees" through Ukraine will also be increased, but not enough to compensate for the increased price in gas for the Ukrainians, and loans will be provided for the difference - and will never be paid. Thus, as for the past 15 years, Gazprom will deliver 25 bcm of gas to Ukraine at no cash cost but against the ability to use Ukrianian pipelines for their export deals. It's a more than fair deal
for Russia, and they know it well.

An additional point to note is that Yushenko's stand is not necessarily incompatible with wanting market prices. Currently, some customers (those controlled by the Ukrainain/Russian/Turkmenistan clique) pay the full price, and the money leaves the country directly, whereas others pay very little officially - which of course means that they pay the bureaucrats which have the power to allocate them gas. So, the gas business in Ukraine is both very unfair AND totally corrupt. By cleaning up both sides, it is quite likely that most Ukrainians would not pay more for gas than today in practise, the Ukrianian state would see more of the money, but the local oligarchs and their Moscow friends would lose out a lot - and Gazprom would probably win in the process, as they make zero from their deliveries to Ukriane today. This spat in not driven by Gazprom, it is driven by well-placed individuals in Gazprom and the Russian government.

(And as a note to analysts that follow Gazprom, and people that invest in Gazprom shares - I have never understood how that 25 bcm vs transit fees trade was accounted for in Gazprom's annual accounts. For some purposes, it is counted at Western prices (to inflate income, costs and average price), for other purposes it is accounted for a prodution prices (usually for tax purposes - don't ever think that the various branches of the Russian State and Gazprom have an harmonious relationship, the infighting is really ugly). In one case, the gas is worth about $5 billion, in the other, less than $100 million... You can manipulate a lot of ratios and numbers with that kind of flexibility to play with...)

As a general note, what is happening behind the scenes has little to do with what's in the headlines. The West should stay calm, remind the Russians of their contractual obligations, and remind them that they have to be serious if they want to be taken seriously.

A great and thoroughly informative post, as usual...thank you! So really it is more about watching what the players do in response, than the actual gas situation...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 09:36:20 AM EST

The ditorial in Le Monde is now up: La guerre du gaz

The diary is also crossposted on dKos for your kind recommendations: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/1/2/9852/35845

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 09:48:14 AM EST
Is control over the distribution of Central Asian energy reserves.

This is a direct challenge to nascent American hegemony over the area.

For some strange reason, the Asian continental powers take issue with that, and have decided to do something about it, right now.

Winging it, I'd say they saw the Americans committing to a showdown with Iran, and decided to take advantage of it.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 09:53:09 AM EST
There are tow things in Central Asia: gas, and oil.

Oil is being disputed mostly between the West and China (as destinations for the export pipelines). The West scored a big point with the construction of the BTC, but China remains in the game with the Kumkol-China pieline inaugurated last month (not connected yet to the main fields).

On the gas side, Russia has ABSOLUTE control over the resources of the region and this is not goign to change for a long time. BP has a toehold in Azerbaijan (gas to be exported to Turkey), but that's it, and that will be it for the foreseeable future.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 09:57:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]

I've been lurking at DailyKos for the past 1.5 years and never posted a comment there.  I've been lurking here at Eurotrib since its inception as well.  This diary, however, has finally forced me to post a response.

I usually agree with your energy-related analyses, but you have this one completely wrong.  You do not understand the situation in Russia.

According to your point of view, Putin is trying to punish Ukraine for leaning closer to the West.  Specifically, you seem to be saying that he is retaliating in response to the Orange "revolution" - which was an American-sponsored coup, by the way, which has done nothing but harm the Ukrainian economy and people.  We can put this aside, however, because it has nothing to do with the current "crisis".

The real reason for Putin demanding that Ukraine pay market price for Russia's natural gas is that the Russian people are sick and tired of subsidizing countries that continually bad-mouth her in public, yet are more than happy to buy her gas for $50/ 1000 cm and resell it to Hungary, Romania, and Moldavia for $250.  Why should Russia subsidize Ukrainian industries and companies, like steel maker Krivostahl, that are in direct competition with Russian industry?

As to your comment to the effect that "Europe should tell Russia to deal with it", most Russians will answer with the following - "If Europe doesn't like it, they can buy their gas from someone else.  Enough is enough."  You VASTLY overestimate the importance Russia places on gas exports to Europe.  Do you honestly think that they are as important to Putin as the domestic perception within Russia that we are being robbed.  We would rather turn off the spigot altogether than be paid nothing for our natural resources.

I think you, as are most western Europeans, are extremely biased in favor of Ukraine.  You all seem to think that Russia arbitrarily decided to turn off the gas, but we have been conducting negotiations about this with Ukraine since March 2005!  You want to talk about Russia's contractual obligations.  Oh, boy, that's rich!  It is the Ukraine who wants to have her cake and eat it too.  The vast majority of Russians could not be happier that Putin has finally cut off the gravy train for our ingrate neighbors to the east.

by skitalets on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 10:03:17 AM EST
This has nothing to do with the Orange Revolution - or only in so far as the changes amongst the Ukrainians have disturbed the cozy arrangements between the Russian oligarchs and the Ukrainian oligarchs.

Ukraine gets 60 bcm per year from Russia - forget the cosy illusion that more than that comes form Turkmenistan, it's really Russian gas. Ukrainians PAY FOR THAT GAS, partly in transit fee offstes, partly in cash - but Gazprom and the Russian State get nothing of this money because it is kept by a few well place individuals who HAVE to be very near the top of Gazprom and the Kremlin. This is money paid by the Ukrainians and stolen from the Russian population by a combination of Russian, Central Asian and Ukrainian criminals.

Should Yushenko succeed in cleaning up Ukrainian gas market practises, the Russian population (or at least Gazprom, an imperfect proxy) would at least benefit a little bit.

Let me say this again - the Ukrainian gas trade is theft by bandits from Russia, not by Ukrainians from Russia.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 10:14:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What Gazprom suggests is buying directly from Gazprom, but Yushenko keeps talking about imaginary under market prices, so looks like he is covering up the theft.
by blackhawk on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 10:30:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It would be good for Gazprom and for Russia (and probably also for Ukraine) that there be direct buying, but not for Gazprom managers with their hands in the pie, thus it is not happening

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 10:40:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wha? That is exactly what Gazprom suggests.
by blackhawk on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 10:43:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Russia CANNOT afford to cut off gas and be seen by Europe as an unreliable partner in the energy sphere, the only one where it is a serious player.

BTW 75% of Gazprom's profits originate in Western Europe.

Today's diary faces reality of Gazprom (Kremlin) having cut gas supply to Ukraine for failure to meet a new agreement per year's end.  Ukraine as poor man has not been able to pay its bills for gas it got serviced. I personally would cut supplies too when I don't get paid for delivery. I am sure it's mostly politics, complicated by the upcoming Ukrainian parliamentary election in March 2006.

"Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason?
For if it prosper, none dare call it treason."

▼ ▼ ▼ MY DIARY

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 02:35:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course I read what you wrote.  I was not merely responding to this particular diary, but to the innumerable other diaries you have posted all over the internet.

All of a sudden you are an expert on the internal workings of Gazprom.  My uncle was Deputy Minister of Economics during Soviet times and is now a high-level executive at Gazprom and even he admits that he doesn't know what exactly is going on.  Yet Jerome a Paris has proven beyond a doubt that my uncle is a thief who is stealing gas money from the Russian people...  This is why I don't post.

You are very much mistaken if you think Yushenko is cleaning up anything.  He is just trying to get his piece of the pie.  His nationalism will backfire on him, though, when the Ukrainian people realize that he has done nothing but lower their standard of living and sour relations with their neighbor.  Not just a neighbor, however, most people in the east of Ukraine identify more with Russia than with their own country - they speak Russian, their children go to Russian language schools, they watch TV in Russian, etc.

by skitalets on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 10:31:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll be happy to concede that it is very much possible that Yushenko is simply trying to get a piece of the pie. I don't know either way.

As to Gazprom, I did work very closely with several board members for an extended bit of time a few years ago and I know a few things. There are lots of honest, hard working people at Gazprom - I have also written repeatedly that Gazprom is industrially well run and is the backbone of Russia - and that the company held the country together during the 90s, but are you seriously going to tell me that there are no crooks at Gazprom (and the Kremlin), and especially near the top?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 10:44:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gazprom is BIG organization, so definately, there are few bad apples here and there.

But in this case billions are being stolen by the Ukrainian side and what Gazprom proposes will stop this.

by blackhawk on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 10:48:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ukraine gets 25 bcm/y for "free" (i.e. in a trade for the use of vital infrastructure); they cost Gazprom $100 million to produce.

Ukrainians pay a real price on 35 bcm/y of gas sold by mysterious intermediary companies that get full access to Gazprom's "magistrals" (at no cost) - but Gazprom sees not one cent of that money. Who is stealing THAT money? That's what at stake today.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 10:54:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At stake are 7 bcm/y stolen by Ukraine.

Ukrainians pay discount price (1/4th of real) to effectively Ukranian company. Gazprom does get transit fee, although from what I gather at 2/3 of the fee Ukraine charges.

Current Gazprom proposals eliminate this business.

by blackhawk on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 11:26:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do recall that Nash Dom-Rossiya (Our Home is Russia) the Rightwing Political Party that held power for some years in Russia was known to its opponents as 'Nash Dom-Gazprom'.  
by saugatojas on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 05:08:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I just wonder if we have met before? Do you live in New Zealand by any chance, or lived there some time ago? If this is the case, you can reply on my email address right below my comment.

I apologize to other readers, but I didn't find skitalets' contact info.

by aquilon (albaruthenia at gmail dot com) on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 02:20:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There should not be a divide between people across borders of Europe and other continents.

It's difficult to keep in touch with the developments in Russian society, economy and daily life. News items usually don't go beyond a few headlines, with articles written by journalists with Western bias even if they are not on a White House or DoD payroll.

The so-called Orange Revolt in the Ukraine has remained a mystery to me what really happened. USAID and Western NGOs taking part in the election campaign would not be tolerated in reciprocal manner in any U.S. Presidential or Congressional election!

Please keep writing your view, likely easier here at EuroTrib or BooMan's Place, rather that fast track @dKos.

"Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason?
For if it prosper, none dare call it treason."

▼ ▼ ▼ MY DIARY

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 03:41:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am sorry to interfere, but I have a few questions :
When I do not agree, I try to understand and argue, not shy away from the debate for months and then claim the right to have my opinions supported aginst those of somone who has long proved he has a first class insight into the subject ;
Besides, I find it really hard to believe one can just read through during months and not feel eager to join the on-going debates.
It seems you and I have very little in common...
To put it short, I am very eager now to use my trusted user's prerogative, but Sven put it better than me, so I will leave it as it is.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 04:02:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I find it really hard to believe one can just read through during months and not feel eager to join the on-going debates.
I'm sorry, Agnes, but lurking is a very common phenomenon on the Internet, and should be respected. When a lurker exposes him/herself, they should generally be encouraged to express themselves more fully, and should not have their motives questioned. If I remember correctly, you yourself came to ET by invitation of a powerful personality within ET, but most others are likely to have been lurking for a while.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 04:12:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you, Migeru!

I'm not sure I want to "expose myself" in public anymore ;-)

As I said, I usually agreen with Jerome.  In this case of the Russia - Ukraine gas situation, however, I think he is too far away to be able to analyse Russia's motives.  I don't even know if he speaks Russian.  If not, he is getting a very media-biased version -- even worse than his pet case of French bias in British media!

by skitalets on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 04:25:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You may not have followed the link to Ukraine vs Russia: Tales of pipelines and dependence, where Jerome implies that he does at least read Russian and that he has inside knowledge of the way Gazprom operated in 1994:
One reason I have been writing with such bluntness on the Russian-Ukrainian spat is that I was on the ground when this crisis was resolved for the first time, in 1994. I spent 6 months in the Kiev office of GDF (Gaz de France) that year. This was the way I had found to be on the ground as I wrote my PhD dissertation on "the independence of Ukraine", and it turned out to be amazingly useful as the gas negotiations were at the core of what made that independence possible. So I spent a lot of time tracking press reports in the Ukrainian, Russian and international press to try to make sense of all the announcements that were made

Now, I would really be curious to know, for instance, what your perspective as a Russian is of, say, Putin's direct role (or lack thereof) in this crisis or where the political relationships among Russia, Belarus and Ukraine are going. Maybe if you write a couple of diaries you'll reveal your area of expertise and people won't think you're just "some Russian".

Then again, contributions shouldn't be measured on their authors' credentials, but on their own merit.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 04:40:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that I made a mistake when I published this diary with the wrong link to my earlier post on the topic, where I presented my credentials.

I do speak Russian, I did spend 6 months in Kiev in 1994 working specifically on Russian-Ukrainian relations, and several years (1997-2001) when Gazprom was my main client and I managed the relationship of my bank with them at various levels, including board level.

I am happy to be proven wrong, in that today's situation is really different from that in the past few years when the stakes were exactly the same, but I a mskeptical and you'll have to provide tangible arguments.

I am sorry if I was a bit aggressive in my responses to you, but your accusation that I was anti-Russian missed my point, which is not a criticism of Russia, but an attempt to analyse the motivations of individuals in position of power in Russia and Ukraine and how they use their access to levers of power for what are not necessarily the interests of their country.

I am glad that you posted and questioned me, and I hope that you will continue to do so despite the rough welcome I gave you!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 05:12:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I really think we should see a diary from him about re-selling 7 billion cubic meters at $250, possibly with sources. I think you dismiss him on that all too off-hand, these numbers seem to originate somewhere, possibly Gazprom claims - so this is something even you could do as a Russian-speaker, could you look into Gazprom's claims?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 05:19:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i very doubt whether Jerome speaks Russian at all

And what's wrong with lurking??? S'pose loads of Russians may well read these pages without any desire to join in. D'ya know why? If the core community (Jerome, that Polish lass, Migeru and a couple of others) aren't bitching about Russians, they're bitching about USA. That is European Unoin all about, innit? Sad, actually...

by lana on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 08:25:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Next thing you know we'll be bitching about the French, the British and the Austrians. Or the Spanish. If national partisans from everywhere complani that we're being mean to them are we doing our job right?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 08:35:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, i wouldn't be surprised if you're bitching about the British, Colman (are you that man who always calls that froggy Jerome "our leader"?)
I just meant this site has its clique as many others have and that this clique is a) anti-american and b) anti-russian in a rather funny way - you use English language to bitch about the USA and use Russian gas and oil to bitch about Russia.

So... why not be a little more consistent in your hatred (fuelled by your greed and your jealousy and some unlucky events from the past)?

Why not choose another language which everybody in Europe may use, say German (ha!), Polish (ha-bloody-ha!) or even French (burst of laughter)? Why not stop using our natural resources like, say, Americans managed to ignore the Olimpic Games in 1980 in Moscow?

My questions are rhetorical but if the bulk of Europeans have the same views as Jerome at al... hmm... i don't think the European Union has a very bright future, you can't build anything which will work reliably on the unstable full-of-hatred full-of-enemies ground. The Soviet Union's past has already proved this.

by lana on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 12:47:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(are you that man who always calls that froggy Jerome "our leader"?)

How about you show a little respect, or else, f**k off yourself?

The world's northernmost desert wind.

by Sirocco (sirocco2005ATgmail.com) on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 01:11:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was just ignoring this nonsense - no point feeding the troll.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 01:13:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasn't aware that anyone here has been anti-Russian. I speak some Russian, have a Russian/Latvian grandmother, but I'm French. This means that on a daily basis I love my French culture, I love criticizing France, and I love singing Na Sopkakh Manchurii real loud, like that guy does in the movie Urga. In fact I'd say that Russia is a country that fascinates me.
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 01:44:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Привет, Лана!

I am beginning to lose all respect for Jerome based on this comment on DailyKos:

"As to who can tolerate this situation longer than the other, i would not bet on Russia myself. They are much weaker than they like to pretend. it's only bluster and our own cowardice that lets them get away with so much. If the game becomes hardball/war, they will stop very quickly: because Europe can do the old African routine: deny access to Paris and London to the girlfriends of all the Russian big bosses, and you'll see how long they last..."

Jerome made this ridiculous post in this diary.

I would like you to know, Jerome, that now when we go to Paris and London, we are suprised that they are not up to the level of Moscow.  I am not joking.  You have not been there since 2001, no?  You should go and see what I mean.

by skitalets on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 07:38:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Privyet Skitalyets,

I am beginning to lose all respect for Jerome based on this comment on DailyKos

I think that's because you may be reading it from a Nationalistic point of view, when it should be read from a Political/Realpolitik(al) point of view, no? Jérôme isn't targetting Russia, he's targetting one action by the Russian government concerning one industry sector.

It's like the difference between saying France is shit and Chirac is shit, or Americans suck and America sucks.

If you say France is shit, I might get offended if I think you're talking about the inhabitants (but I doubt it, I have some experience in that field which I mention elsewhere in this thread). If you say Chirac is shit, I'll agree!! Now if you talk about France in some geo-political context, I know you won't be talking about the people ... and so I will then either agree or disagree, depending on the context.

It does seem pretty clear that when Jérôme says Russia, he means the government, and he means it only in this particular context. His comment on the old African routine and girlfriends, I read to be about cultural isolation, not about the types of goods found in luxury shops nor about how clean the sidewalks are. i.e. this is regardless of how slick and modern Moscow sidewalks are, and how much dog shit there is on Paris sidewalks.

Now let me reach for my guitar and sing one of my favourite songs ...

Plachyet maladyena jeeeeeeena, plachyet vsyo, kak adin chelyavek ... plink plonk tsoinggg

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 08:14:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way, my expression => "cultural isolation" is not about Culture. I'd never say such a thing about Culture! (ie. Moscow is a cultural hotspot, the opera is awesome, the movie industry is good, theatre is on etc etc). My expression is about access to other cultures, as in other countries. Political isolation if you prefer.
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 08:20:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the involved parties having agreed that we all got carried away. So I will not respond to your post. Have just one genuine question though as your English sounds better than mine : what does "lass" mean ?

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 08:59:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
according to my Scottish mates lass means girl for those British folk living ooop north
by lana on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 12:13:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's something very odd about someone from Russia using words like "lass" and "mates," and Deep-South terms (terms?  quasi-words?) like "innit".  My cousin from Georgia says "innit".  People from St. Petersburg don't (unless they're from St. Petersburg, Florida).

If it's all about bashing America -- or so you think -- then perhaps I might point out that I'm an American, as are (I believe) DowneastDem, slaboymni, Robert (rdf), and Chris.  Migeru earned his PhD from the University of California, if I'm not mistaken.  Jerome is a big name at Daily Kos (the largest American political blog on the web).  Where is the anti-Americanism?  I'd like to think that, as an American who loves what his country is supposed to stand for, I can decide for myself what anti-Americanism looks like, thank you.

And who is "that Polish lass"?

And am I the only one who thought Jerome's comment, about London and Paris being off-limits to the girlfriends of Russian big bosses, was incredibly funny?  So this is what Rifkin meant by "waging peace" in The European Dream.

I'm not going to jump into a fight over London, Paris and Moscow, except to say that, if you want to get into a debate on which cities are on a higher level than others, you may want to avoid bringing up Moscow, where the murder rate is three times that of London.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2006 at 12:40:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
May "the Polish lass" point out that she has a US Green Card? So much for the anti-americanism. I have pledged no longer to respond to subversive threads, anb slaboymni's joining is great timing.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed Jan 4th, 2006 at 01:38:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suggest we all chill off. Am not questioning lurking, yet silence can me easily misinterpreted, as I just did. However the human voice is the only sound that can be heard over gunfires, even when it's a whisper.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 04:37:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is no Turkmen gas in the beginning of 2006 and after 2007 for Ukraine.
by blackhawk on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 10:24:46 AM EST
thorough, informed and opinionated!

as for not worrying, i think we're all too blase and sanguine about the energy scene in general, with exception of the few like yourself.

an hour ago i heard debate about this on rai 3, and i found myself paradoxically grateful at the amount of concern in some of the speakers' voices.

the writing is on the wall, and denial is becoming daily much less of an option, meanwhile italy lags behind in biodiesel and solar development, and the eu slides on the token kyoto.

what, me worry?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 10:29:36 AM EST
Congrats for your post on DKos and the title, in particular, "how to thank your cabal". You've already starting outdoing yourself so early in the year.
The only pb is I launched a print and 3 people here at the office wonder why the color printer is busy... :-))

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 11:25:04 AM EST
The first link in your article is to a completely different item on dkos.

Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other. -- Dr Johnson
by melvin (melvingladys at or near yahoo.com) on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 11:28:05 AM EST
but this gave me the opportunity to see what DKos looks like. I never dared go and get in, I am not feeling up to Eurotribe standards yet so prefer to focus on ET.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 11:37:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes wrong link to the other gas diaries (too bad would have liked to maps). But I agree with Agnes sometimes stumbling on something by mistake can reveal a hidden treasure. In this case a interesting insiders view of Daily Kos which I had visited a few times before but found too overwhelming. The cabala of Daily Kos is now revealed. Thanks.

As for the gas crisis analysis - yet another reason to come back to Eurotrib after a holiday hiatus. Great analysis and lively back & forth. Nice read!

And Happy New Year to everyone at Eurotrib!

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 12:07:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now corrected.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 12:06:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm gonna be a plagiarist for once (at least I hope) but I would really likle to extract some quotes from the DKos praise list thread.
"You were the first diarist I subscribed to". Hey ! I was going to say that, kd texan took the words out of my mouth.
"My heart belongs to Jérôme" hum. Is there a woman behind the nickname pasadena beggar?
You also have someone anxious to belong to your French groupie group. I strongly oppose this. The place is already taken.
"All this group e-hugging makes me miss reading about looming financial disasters". That was irony for sure, but I support e-hugging. We should set up a monthly e-hugging thread.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 11:35:16 AM EST
Fascinating diary (even if I did have to read it twice to get the whos and whats straight). Thank you.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 12:51:33 PM EST
We can argue about the real motives of Gazprom's decision to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine. Given the fact that Russia is not a genuine market economy yet, even Italian or French style, is crystal clear to me that it was made at the very top level of the government. I actually hoped that Russia would show more common sense. Now, on the one hand, its reputation as a reliable trade partner is on the line. On the other, if Russia backs off, which seems likely, that will be more damaging to Mr Putin's image with the Russians.
by aquilon (albaruthenia at gmail dot com) on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 01:52:02 PM EST

You are absolutely right.  If Putin backs off, he will lose a massive amount of support from the Russian people.  Expect to see big demonstrations in the street.

By the way, did you know that official rumour has it that Putin will have himself installed as president of Gazprom when his 2nd (and last) term is over?  Kind of reminds you of that "market economy" called Germany - with Schroeder taking the plum job after leaving goverment - doesn't it?

We in Russia see what a "genuine market economy" does for USA - with Katrina response, tax cuts for poor, etc. - and we don't want it!!!

by skitalets on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 05:31:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The only reason I said that Russia is still far from being a market economy was to make a point that government officials there have almost unlimited control over companies. They have the ultimate power to make a business soar, or strangle it. Just remember what happened to Yukos.

I am not sure that the type of economy determines how the government responds to emergencies. Did the Soviet government do any better after Chernobyl disaster than the U.S. administration after hurricane Katrina?

by aquilon (albaruthenia at gmail dot com) on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 08:39:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Natural gas dilemma in Ukraine

MOSCOW (Energy Bulletin) Nov. 8, 2005 -- The Russian gas monopoly "Gazprom" is considering raising prices for Ukraine three-fold to 170-180 dollars per 1000 cubic meters in contrast to the current price of 50 dollars per 1000 cubic meters. Turkmenistan is also considering raising the natural gas price for Ukraine.

Turkmenistan is discontented with the current level of payments and wants Kiyiv [Ukraine] to pay full price for imported gas. After the last visit of Ukrainian Prime Minister Jurij Jehanurov there were even rumours that Ashgabat, the biggest supplier of natural gas to Ukraine (50%), will stop gas supplies to Ukraine in 2006.

    "It is difficult to offer any proof but one gets the impression that Ukraine would keep dragging its feet until it fully explores two possibilities and makes up its mind about either or both:
    (1) Prospects of laying a pipeline between Iran and Ukraine and buying most of its gas requirements from Iran, and
    (2) Wait and see whether the United States can revive the long-shelved Trans-Caspian pipeline that would run parallel to the BTC."

Turkmenistan has an opportunity to feed South Asia's growing gas demand: reserves are huge but these await certification; Turkmenistan's Karakum Desert is rich with gas fields that lie beneath the sand.

The simultaneous price hikes by Russia and Ashgabat allow us to conclude that their actions are fully or partly coordinated. The situation is aggravated by a bilateral agreement between Gazprom and Uzbekistan signed in late September about the use of the transit capacities of Uzbek gas pipelines (50 billion m3 of natural gas per year). The agreement means that Ukraine is fully cut off from the Turkmenistan natural gas supply. Gazprom and the Kremlin can celebrate their triumph over Ukraine.

Ukraine Stole 100 mln m³ of Natural Gas on New Year's Day --
EU countries react to dispute and cut in gas delivery

Gazprom Agreement Azerbaijan - 2004
Caspian Sea Region: USAID report 2002-2004 (pdf file)

"Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason?
For if it prosper, none dare call it treason."

▼ ▼ ▼ MY DIARY

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 02:02:17 PM EST
Russia Will Send Extra 95mln m³ a Day to End Shortage

France, Italy, Germany, Hungary and Poland were among those reporting falling volumes.  

Hungary says normal gas supplies
have now been restored

Russia says it will pump more gas to Europe after various countries said their supplies had fallen by up to 40% after Moscow cut Ukraine's provision.

Russia said it was sending an extra 95 million cubic metres a day, to make up for gas "stolen" by Ukraine.

Ukraine denies it has siphoned off $25m (£15m) worth of gas from a pipeline crossing its territory after Russia cut off its supply in a price dispute.

My diary @BooMan's ::
Russia Vows to End Gas Shortage to Europe

"Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason?
For if it prosper, none dare call it treason."

▼ ▼ ▼ MY DIARY

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 07:16:16 PM EST
Not sure what it is worth but here's a few highlights from an interview with Prof.  Ołeksij Haran, a 'prominent political scientist' and 'vice president of the American (NGO), Eurasia Foundation'

"I believe that in the end both sides will have to compromise. Ukraine is ready to pay more, but what Russia is proposing [...] seems to be political pressure. Such a [sudden and] large increase does not seem to have any economic justification.

A lot will depend on the stance of the European countries. I constantly watch Russian TV and all the channels are propagating the idea that Ukraine is not ready for any compromise, but rather is stealing gas from the pipelines, which threatens to cause an energy crisis in the entire EU. If the West comes to believe that, it will be very bad.

The legal arguments are on our side - Russia signed a long term agreement with Ukraine on gas delivery before the Orange Revolution. It is true that that agreement was extremely advantageous for us [...] but no one abrogated it. If we were to insist on arbitration at the Stockholm Tribunal - which is seriously being considered in Kiev - we should win the case. The problem is that the proceedings will take months or even years.

The other issue is that it is Russia that is obliged to provide gas to the western countries, not us. Yet Moscow has still not established any agreement with us on the conditions of the transit of gas through the Ukraine for this year. Starting Jan. 1, Moscow is sending gas through the Ukraine illegally. That's not just our problem, but the problem of Moscow's relations with European countries.


What do you expect from the West?

Zachód może albo się w ogóle nie wtrącać, albo zachęcać obie strony do rozumnego kompromisu. Moim zdaniem ta druga postawa jest oczywiście lepsza. Z wielką nadzieją patrzę na środowe spotkanie Unii Europejskiej w Brukseli w sprawie tego kryzysu.
The West can either stay out of it completely, or urge both sides to a compromise. IMO the latter option is better. [...]

How will this crisis affect the political situation in Ukraine? Could it change the result of the March parliamentary elections?

That will depend on the course of events, primarily on whether the government will manage to maintain a more or less stable gas prise. The government claims there shouldn't be a problem in the first quarter, but that's debatable. Part of the electorate will vote for the pro-Russian Regional Party of ex PM Janukowycz as a result of the crisis. On the other hand it was Janukowycz who signed the gas agreement with Russia in 2004. If it was such a good one why does Russia wish to change it? [I assume the good prof is engaging in a bit of snarkiness here]

Radykalne działania Rosji mogą wywołać negatywną reakcję części elektoratu, który na co dzień jest raczej prorosyjski. Dyplomacja rosyjska nie zmieniła, niestety, swojego podejścia do Ukrainy z czasów pomarańczowej rewolucji. A wtedy Rosja swoim zachowaniem bardzo dużo straciła w oczach przeciętnych Ukraińców. Niewykluczone, że teraz będzie podobnie. Ludzie nie są głupi, by uwierzyć, że trzykrotna podwyżka cen gazu nie ma podtekstu politycznego. W dodatku podwyżce towarzyszy antyukraińska kampania w mediach rosyjskich. To wszystko nie sprzyja stabilnym i przyjaznym stosunkom między naszymi krajami.
The radical actions by Russia could cause a negative reaction among the generally pro-Russian part of the electorate. Russian diplomacy has unfortunately not changed its approach to Ukraine from the times of the Orange Revolution. Back then Russia's actions cost it a lot of support among ordinary Ukrainians. It may be the same this time round. [...] All of this does not help the chances for a stable and friendly relationship with the two countries.

Interview with Prof. Haran

by MarekNYC on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 12:32:13 AM EST
This Ukrainian prof. has a real future in the White House.  He has nothing on Karl Rove for disinformation.  Ukraine did "abrogate the deal", to Russia's great amazement.  Following is a link to an article in eXile, a Russian english-language web magazine ->
eXile article on gas row

Here is the main quote I want you to see ->
"One of these anti-Russian nationalists was then-Deputy Prime Minister for energy policy Alexiy Ivchenko (since then demoted to a lesser-job as a chief of the NaftaGas consortium). When he visited Russia for crucial talks back in March of 2005, he brought with him a Russian-Ukrainian translator. Since some 95% of Ukrainians speak fluent (if accented) Russian - and those who don't are overwhelmingly village hicks from Galicia - so the decision to only speak to his Russian counterpart through a translator had the main effect of pissing off the counterparty right from the start. But this was only the beginning. Claiming to "break the Russian shackles" and bring in a new, more pragmatic era in joint relations, Ivchenko declared that the Ukraine want to scrap the previous arrangements on gas deliveries, based on barter trade and reduced prices.

Since the previous agreement, valid until at least 2009, was in fact hugely favorable to Ukraine, Russians could not believe their luck. "Are you sure you want to do this?" they asked Ivchenko.

"Of course we do, we're a proud, independent Ukraine," was the essence of Ivchenko's reply.

"Then so be it, we'll start market-pricing gas exports and transit through the Ukraine." The details of the new "realistic" terms remained vague and the issue was shelved - until a couple of months ago, when Gazprom announced a big price hike for the gas supplies to Ukraine, though still well below the European prices."

And here's what Jerome had to say about veracity of eXile's work in a DailyKos comment ->
"That sounds (none / 0)

very much possible, and the exile has often been well informed about such tidbits.

In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

by Jerome a Paris on Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 11:24:27 AM PDT"

Link for above Jerome comment -> Jerome   DKos comment in this diary

Jerome - Why don't you mention this here?

by skitalets on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 06:43:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yesterday's thread in rebuttal got way too personal for me, and is not contributing for an open discourse on the EuroTrib blog. There is no need to get personal when you add a comment with useful information, nor is it a goal to get the right on your side. We all try to offer some information to learn from one another. Your insight from within the Russian Federation can be very enlightening, please don't make it a personal issue. Thanks.

BTW your English grammar is near perfect, where have you mastered the language?


Name: Кристофер Тессон
Website: blog (english)
Location: Carbondale IL, Russian Federation
Birthdate: 1982-06-26

"Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason?
For if it prosper, none dare call it treason."


'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 07:03:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder if the word skitalets isn't something about travelling. Let me see ... yes, definitely! I found by looking at google's first response, a website for tourists and travels (poutechestvenikov is one of the first words I learned)

Скиталец you are most probably a well-travelled person, like many of us here!

And skitalets, your opinion is interesting. I would tend to favour Jérôme's opinion for him being experienced in this field, but I dare say that it's possible that both of you, correction all of us, are way over our heads in this Gazprom matter, and that it's important that we stick around and talk even if sometimes we don't like some things said (for example I usually get goose bumps when people start saying that the French unemployment rate is high, I puff and huff and quickly say "it's been the same for 20 years, you punks", then I slowly start reaching for my gun, which gives ample time for people to retract their comment).

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 08:34:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Alex, do you have advice for me to learn to reach SLOWLY for my gun ? I tend to react too quickly when I have goose flesh, and forget than blogging is writing and words stay engraved, while I feel like I am speaking when I write.

My own response to myself : grow up ! You people on ET are so moderate in your comments, not over-reacting and all that stuff, I'll start to believe you are old middle-aged people (ie above their thirties). Snark

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill

by Agnes a Paris on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 08:39:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To reach for it slowly, you have to put the gun in a place where it's difficult to reach, for example inside the offender's skull. Oh man I overdid it, sorry! I guess I unconsciously wanted to show that violence can be hidden in the most trivial comments.

Well about how to learn control on such issues as "someone else's understanding of your country", I was just lucky to be a member of the original fuckfrance.com when it started, shortly around the beginning of the war in Iraq. I first went there by curiosity, but ended up fighting verbally with the most conservative republican pricks in the world. Ex-marine officers who hated arabs and French people. Average joe schmoes who didn't hate anyone in particular but still believed that France was evil. French people who agreed that France was evil and who were totally pro-Bush.

To fight them I had to turn into them, it was very ugly. But one day, bam! I managed to make peace with some of them, and that day I started liking the place.

(but shortly after that a new wave of idiots joined and started harrassing again and at that point I left, too tired to have to go through the same stuff over and over again).

One thing I learned over there, is how to get people annoyed and angry. It's actually very easy to get people on the defensive. You, for example, can 1) gang up. This consists of teaming up with another person or two and start claiming that "you just owned the other guy haha what an idiot we really got him haha", when in fact the person you're attacking has been carefully arguing, documenting his claims. this gets carefully debating people very angry, particularly when you on the other hand have just been superficial and insulting. Or 2) claim that you've already been through this and that the person in question is boring and invite him/her to re-read everything on the forum. etc etc

And learning all of this, makes you more prepared for it.

I don't recommend this website, if it still exists, for people who are nice, gentle and who think that all of humanity can just get along. It's not full of harmless people. Some people over there really hated our guts and were ready to bomb the shit out of France. Some French people there hated America so much they were ready to go all-out nuclear with them too. A really ugly website. But a good place to learn how to take it easy.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 09:01:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Being overly sensitive those days, I guess I will first use less radical means than that website. But thank you indeed for taking the time to respond so thoroughly.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 09:12:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I also would never connect to that website when I was feeling a bit down or tired. It would have been hurtful (some of these people were nazi-like extremists => not the kind of people you want to talk to when you're feeling sensitive).
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 09:14:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I forgot to precise this one thing. Even when you had decided to be super cool, super calm, you'd be attacked for being "a chicken", ready to surrender to all of their attacks without defending yourself.

So in essence, you were screwed. Either you retaliated and were no better than them. Or you tried being calm and you were a French surrender monkey.

It took me a few months to find the middle path. Which consisted of ignoring the ones in it for a fight, and trying to settle differences, in a calm manner, with those not in it for a fight. But like I said, I eventually quit because the ones looking for a fight kept on coming, and coming and coming ... endless masses of adversaries. Way too much to handle. The ratio was like 1 Frenchman against 10 Conservative Republicans, and in such circumstances it quickly gets too tedious.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 09:12:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So this is how you got to be so Zen. I keep trying to get you to bust a gut but there's no way.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 10:49:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
hehehe afew, here's a pointer: try saying that France's unemployment rate is too high. I'll load a 30 round magazine in my AK-47 and wait for ya!

disclaimer: I'm not zen at all, I'm just beginning to get good at knowing how to avoid getting into trouble.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 01:48:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, I remember hinting something like this 2 months ago and did not get any retaliatory response. my newcomer status I guess. Hope you did not spare me criticism because of the dearth of female diarists :-)) refrence being made to poemless's question in tonight's open thread

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 04:11:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I had my earplugs on, I didn't hear what you were saying to me about French unemployment, dear female diarist ;) But I'm sure it was something very positive about it, hum hum hum. Something like: "unemployment is cool" or "we are all unemployed" or "Santa I want an unemployed dog for Christmas"
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 04:35:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't always crosspost every comment between dKos and eurotrib, it would become unamanageable (especially with the usual size of the dKos diaries, which often run to 100+ comments).

The link to the dKos thread is near the top of this thread.

That Ukrainian guy does indeed sound especialyl stupid, but the Russians had no reason to want to change the terms of the deal, as it is, despite appearances, advantageous to them. You may not believe me when I write this (and it is true that it becomes slightly less advantageous as prices for gas inrease, but it is still a good deal for Gazprom), but I really believe it and I have no agenda in this. I don't work with Russian clients anymore, I have not been in Ukraine in more than 10 years. I am just providing what I think is a reasonably well informed opinion (information on Ukriane, and information on how pipelines tariffs are set elsewhare in the world).

As I said, I'd love to learn from you if you are in a position to comment with insider-y information or simply your Russian perspective. That's what this site is about - everybody can provide information and opinion, and if it's interesting or useful, it is noticed and acknowledged. I certainly don't hold the sole source of wisdom on this site.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 08:23:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
what caught my eye is the fact that the extract was in Polish. Marek, I was wondering whether you knew of Polish press websites we could use to make an addition to our press info database. There is a lot going around related to Poland on this site, and we have very valuable contributors posting on the issues(Chris and yourself) hence the suggestion. I am happy to offer translation services if needed. Same would apply to Russian press if skilates is supportive.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 08:50:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 08:51:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
another try : sorry I misspelled your nickname skitalets.
There are people discussing cross-default swaps in a mix of French and English right next to my desk so I find it difficult to concentrate.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 08:52:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Be careful!
Being the native Ukrainian I couldn’t read normally these blackmail words.
Yes , eXile beweek Internet magazine really exist! Furthermore it was an independent magazine some years ago, but now? What is the question!
The article “Gas Attack! The Ukraine...” written by Kirill Pankratov is the fictive blackmail produced by Russian FSB! The arguments are as follows:
Kirill Pankratov is the real man(former Russian. Now lived in the USA) has site page:
“ Just briefly: I am a graduate ('88) of PhysTech, Moscow, ( Dept. Atmospheric and Space Research) and have a Ph.D. degree ('94) in Physical Oceanography at MIT - Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric and and Planetary Sciences, today work at CRI Inc. - a small but smart high-tech enterprise, specializing in unique technology of tunable optical filters and medical imaging.”

Furthermore, he used to write some exercises on politics, but knowing his words about Putin’s election:
“ Since the old tune about “wild bears prowling snow-covered streets of Moscow” is getting a bit stale and little harder to believe these days, a new spin cycle was uniformly adopted by journalistic corps. OK, perhaps Moscow is booming, but if you ever dare to go beyond the Ring Road [insert gloomy and menacing sound-effects here…], there is absolutely nothing but abject poverty and alcohol fumes, and total hopelessness - which, of course, signifies a complete failure of Evil Putin’s resurgent KGB-inspired policies. You might think it is some kind of Sierra-Leone out there – only with much colder climate.”

So, I couldn’t believe that he wrote this paper “Gas Attack! The Ukraine...» Then who wrote this paper? It is evidently that the grandsons of KGB. The text of it is about the same as in the former Soviet newspapers (before Afghanistan aggression in 1979).
Knowing Russian, you can see the forums in the electronic version of the main former Soviet gazette “Izvestiya”. The new FSB tactics in Russian is to provocate normal people, using indignant words etc. in forums and desinformations.

PS: Sorry for pigeon English.

Per aspera ad astra

by olexy on Wed Jan 4th, 2006 at 08:27:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your analysis and commentary are interesting and incisive, as usual (per my more usual readings over at dkos), and certainly open to debate.

It seems to me that your thinking is generally slanted toward economic imperatives at the expense of political ones.  Moreover, your argument in this post -- essentially that the gas dispute is a rather secretive financial affair among various Slavic bully boys, is in my opinion a bit off the mark.

In this case, the POV of Kremlin insiders would seem to take precedence -- such as Andrei Illarionov, Putin's hand-picked top economic adviser.  Excerpts from an AP report via Forbes:

    Russia's state-owned gas monopoly, OAO Gazprom, has threatened to cut supplies to Ukraine Sunday morning if Kiev does not agree to pay $230 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas - more than four times the current price.

    The company has said the price hike marks a long-overdue transfer to free-market price mechanisms.

    However, Andrei Illarionov, a former economic adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin, said the increase instead was a political move signaling the rise of neo-imperialist trends in Kremlin policy.

    Illarionov said the Kremlin had asked him to help cast the price hike as a free-market measure, but that he resigned this week because the move "had no relation not only to liberal economic policy, but to economic policy at all."

    Illarionov said that in August 2004, Gazprom signed a deal with Ukraine's gas company that envisaged five years of gas supplies at $50 per 1,000 cubic meters - part of the Kremlin's efforts to support presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych, who lost a tense race last fall to the Western-leaning Yushchenko.

    "When the political situation changed, they remembered about subsidies," said Illarionov, who long had been a dissenter in the Kremlin, which is dominated by Putin's fellow veterans of the Soviet spy agency KGB.

    Illarionov likened Russia's price hike for Ukraine to Nazi and Soviet ultimatums issued to Eastern European nations before their annexation on the eve of the World War II, and urged the Kremlin to step away "from the brink of a precipice that we are approaching so blindly and quickly."

Illiarnov's opinions are hardly singular.   Ukrainian media, as well as braver Russian media, broadly see the gas-price attack for what it is: bullying and blackmail, Kremlin-style.  (See also Ukrayinska Pravda, one of Ukraine's widest read and most influential publications.)  Putin intends to punish Ukraine for deviating to the West.  There is hardly more to it than that.  The usual suspects rake in their cash along the way.

Yes, certain shady characters along the revenue stream are benefiting hugely, but that's nothing new.  This new development is mainly about politics of control via energy supplies, the same game the US is playing.

Putin is playing brinksmanship, insisting on the collapse of Ukraine's new democracy back into Russia's orbit and brutal control.  Ukrainians for the most part want OUT and to have a chance for freedom and prosperity -- the central messages of the Orange Revolution.  Further, he's warning Europe that Ukraine needs to fall in order for Europe to retain Russian energy supplies.

Bear in mind that Putin is not the sharpest knife in the kitchen, and his new attack against Ukraine and indirectly against Europe may very well prove to be far too ill-conceived and too blunt (stupid, in other words) to be credible as more than another fist or boot in Ukraine's face.  It's an old Russian habit towards Ukraine and Ukrainians.  Russia's economy would implode without energy exports, and Putin is just dumb enough to try cutting those off if he doesn't get what he wants, that being in this case the return of Ukraine to Kremlin subservience.

(Opining from eastern Urkaine.)



The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.
W. Churchill

by US expat Ukraine on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 06:32:01 PM EST
US expat xoxol,

At least we agree that Jerome does not understand the situation.

We, obviously, do not agree about Ukraine's motives.  "freedom and prosperity -- the central messages of the Orange Revolution"?  For whom?  As long as you are from western Ukraine and not the Russian-speaking eastern part where all of the industry is located.  The U.S. State Dept. spent $65 million financing this "revolution".

Meanwhile, we have Ukraine creating monuments to Nazi soldiers.  They have this in common with the baltic states  You would think that Germany, at least, would speak up against such behavior.  But they are too busy voting for baltic states in EU and NATO.  Europe has learned nothing.  Russia must always save her, as when  she stopped the mongolians from taking over Europe.  All while Europeans look down their nose at Russia and Ukrainians help the enemy.

by skitalets on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 07:25:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm absolutely sure I'd like to sit with you and slam down some vodka.  So don't take this wrong.

I'm not saying that Jerome doesn't understand the situation.  Not at all.  His economic viewpoint, engendered by his scholarly economic emphasis, leaves a small but not insignificant blind spot regarding the political arena.  Jerome's take on the issues at hand are quite plausible, insofar as they go.  I argue only that his tendency to interpret things in terms of economics is in this case at the expense of interpreting them polically -- economics and political science both being worthwhile and respectable social sciences.  (I'm a behavioral scientist myself, a slightly distinct breed of social scientist....)

Anticipating that you'd likely be among the first to respond, I'm relieved that you attributed only $65 million to the US side (or was it just US State, with other US players to be mentioned later?)  Common wisdom and estimates in Ukraine, and in the West, were that Russia had invested around half a billion dollars in pumping Yanukovich into office over Yushchenko.  Eight times more, and it still didn't work.

Your last paragraph lost me.  Europe et al. may or may not look down their noses at Russia, but notions such that Russia must save Europe somehow is quite out of sync with what the overwhelming majority of Europeans think -- unless I've missed something.  If so, I stand to be corrected.



The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.
W. Churchill

by US expat Ukraine on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 08:02:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I try to say that Russia already saved Europe twice - from mongol invasion and from Nazi Germany.  For this we get nothing but the back of Europe's hand and our neighbors turn against us after we save them...  I also know for a fact that western Europe look down their nose at us.
by skitalets on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 08:26:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Russia is half the land surface of the moon, man! How can anyone look down on you ???
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 08:31:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll tell you one thing though, you can drop the "we saved you from the Mongols" stuff. What happened 800 years ago is nothing anyone alive is responsible for. And even for contemporary events we can't be held responsible -- we vote for people who don't always get elected ... why should we be blamed for what governments do, when we didn't vote for them?

If we start going down the this and that and me and you path, then we'll end up arguing that Charles-Martel saved Russia, but not really because anyhow the King of Russia near then was half-German, or maybe part-Italian, and anyways we owe it all to Kenya since we're all Africans.

You have to stop orienting your thoughts along those lines, skitalets. Imagine if Bush opponents in the USA (half the country) had no chance of being recognized as existing, just because all of the USA could be swept as being "a bunch of Bush-electing fanatics". Wouldn't that be a little sad?

If you're pissed off with Jérôme, let it remain because you disagree with his geo-political arguments in the energy sector, not because you don't like what you think he may have said to your neighbour about your sister who happened to save the life of a Portuguese sailor in the 16th century.

And I know what I'm talking about, I've been cured from overreacting to attacks on my country ever since I visited fuckfrance.com. Now, I know how to differenciate between people and government, and I leave the past in the past. I suggest you try to do the same, it will only make you feel better anyways ... countries are just administrative bits of paper ... it's cultures that are interesting, not countries. And the Russian culture is fascinating to me. To the point where I started taking Russian lessons, I read a lot of classics, watched movies such as "Another day in the life of Oblomov" ... all this having nothing to do with Putin or the Mongols.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 08:44:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We're entering into long-differing ideologies here.

Russia saved Russia from Mongol invasions, and with limited success (my dear Russian girlfriend/econ professor from Siberia has very distinctive, though lovely, Mongol features for one example.)

Russia saved Russia from Nazi Germany.

If Europe or anyplace else benefited in either case, it was an accident.  Russia never set out to do anything more than protect Russia.

Moreover, by the time Stalin finished (died) and less psychotic minds took over the former USSR, the whole notion of "protection" coming out of Russia sent Sicilian mafia chills down the spine of a West trying to resist Nazi/Communist control.  Which was worse, Nazis or Stalinist-bred Communists, is debatable primarily on the basis of video recordings and known mass graves.  Be sure to consider the Ukrainian Holodomor, where Stalin intentionally starved to death seven million Ukrainians who dared resist his collective farming enterprise.  Or was is six million, as in the Jewish Holocaust at the hands of Nazis?  Or was it eight million?

Russia has never, ever intentionally saved Europe or anyone else.  Russia has a hard time saving her own people, and as you surely know very well Russia has a long and inglorious history of destroying her own people.

If by any chance Europe is looking down its nose at Russia, I respectfully suggest that it may very well be due to some Russians audacious and self-serving claims that Russians have ever even pretended to care about anyone other than Russians -- and not doing a very good job in that latter case.



The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.
W. Churchill

by US expat Ukraine on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 09:20:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bludy KATZAP! (sorry for the other people)

Now we have the tupical post KGB insuniations and provocations on the topic!

Yes! Petlura and Bandera are bustards. But they are Ukrainien (ours) bustartds. And only ukranian people could change their attitude for them!

Per aspera ad astra

by olexy on Wed Jan 4th, 2006 at 09:47:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not downplaying the geopolitical aspects - they are certainly contributing to this sorry game. But that is obviously discussed a lot more in the press and the blogs, and I was trying to bring out other aspects which are much less discussed.

How the people in the know "package" their decision to the public, and how they bring politicians on board, is another topic...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 4th, 2006 at 04:31:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and where, I ask, does the Western name 'Russia' come from?

Why, from the Rus - a scandinavian tribe (Vikings, if you will)  that settled the Don and created such a wonderful organized society that all came to ask "Can you do the same for us, please' (this was before Cyril and his alphabet BTW)

They also got to nowadays Iraq, but that is another historical story of no relevance to today.

Except for Enoch - he who walked with God - who they brought back.

reading apochryphal history is an excellent antidote to nationalism.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jan 3rd, 2006 at 09:24:40 PM EST
In the time of Ancient Rus we have two regions with the same name. Inside : Rus is meaning three regions - Kyiv , Chernigiv and Pereyaslav. Outside - Rus is meaning Kyiv, Novgorod, Tmutarakan and other kingdoms.
Some centures before we had ancient town RODEN on the Ross river (near contemprorary Kaniv) with ROSS tribe.

Per aspera ad astra
by olexy on Wed Jan 4th, 2006 at 10:05:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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