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Buzz Barometer: Russia Unsheathing Energy Weapon - FP
February 25, 2015 19:44

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 If you look up the headlines of The Foreign Policy, you are most certain to find a report on Russia, or its defiant actions against the West, to be more precise.
This time again, the FP speculates on the almost imminent gas supply disruption that Moscow has in store for Ukraine.
“Russia is unsheathing its energy weapon once again”
“The move marks the second time Russian strongman Vladimir Putin has thumbed his nose at the West in recent days”
“The latest gambit seems part of a multi-pronged campaign to force Washington and its allies to accede to Moscow’s landgrab
“Russia is upping the ante for the West. They are basically saying, back off over Ukraine, or we will raise the stakes in the Iran talks, as we know you need us to broker a solution,” The FP quotes Sijbren de Jong, an analyst at the Hague Center for Strategic Studies, as saying. “It all fits together. Russia knows like no other how to play one power off against the other.”
“Gazprom boss Alexei Miller warned that a disruption in gas supplies to Ukraine
could also have “serious” consequences for the rest of Europe, since Europe gets about 15 percent of its natural gas from Russia via pipelines in Ukraine.
The FP reminds its readers that the two sides have squabbled for years over contract terms. In 2006 and 2009, Moscow shut the taps entirely, which led to disruptions in gas supplies in Europe.
According to The FP, “separatist fighters had damaged several natural gas pipelines there and refused to let Ukraine’s gas company repair them. In response, Russia immediately began shipping natural gas directly to the rebel-held areas — and charging Kiev for the “humanitarian” deliveries.”
“We got the impression that they first ruined the gas infrastructure, and then decided to supply gas to [eastern] Ukraine,” Andriy Kobolyev, the chairman of the board of Ukraine’s Naftogaz, was quoted by The FP as saying.
“If the two sides can’t reach an agreement on gas supplies, and Russia does cut off Ukraine again, it would deal a sharp blow to the already wobbly Ukrainian economy. Ukrainian officials expect the economy to shrink about 5.5 percent this year; on Monday, Ukraine’s currency hit a new low against the dollar. Foreign currency reserves are rapidly dwindling. Prominent economists warn the country faces an economic “meltdown,” reads the article.
Some in Europe are nervous about their own gas supplies but this time the spring is in the air, which means Europe will no longer need much gas for heating.


Author: Mikhail Vesely

Tags: Buzz Barometer Russia International    

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