Monday, December 26, 2005

A change in the blog

I am thinking about making a change here in the next few weeks. I want to make this a co-blogger affair. There are any number of people out there who have made comments on the site who have some good insights into Ukraine and into this area of the world. It is those kind of insights I think would be something to offer readers on a more consistent basis.

There is a lot going on around here and I don't have all that much time to track it all. This is not only true for Ukraine but also for Central Asia and for Russia. These are all neighbors and for some of them, the effects of the Orange Revolution are still being felt, if not in imminent revolution, then in a certain paranoia that is influencing policy still. And Europe is an issue too since Ukraine is moving in that direction. All of these countries are places of interest for this humble little blog.

If you would prefer anonymity, that is a possibility too. We could work up s pseudonym for you to work under.

So anyway, if you have any interest, let me know. I am looking for from 2 to 4 others. Email me at foreignnotes at hotmail dot com.

1 comment:

LEvko said...

An interesting piece entitled 'The great gas crisis: Ukraine as a proving ground for Russia's conversion into 'a Eurasian Nigeria', has appeared in today’s UkrPravda. The authors are from the grandly named 'National Strategy of Ukraine Institute'.

Some of its main points are:

This crisis does not pose a major threat to Ukrainian economy - Ukraine should survive it relatively smoothly.

Control over the gas transportation system of Ukraine lies at the heart of the gas crisis.

Kremlin has decided that Russia's mission in years to come is to be a stable supplier of gas and oil to Europe and beyond. Western finance and involvement may be necessary for development of further gas projects and infrastructure. This will help Russia, with its declining population, long borders and dodgy neighbours, to maintain territorial integrity.

Control of transit systems is vital to this plan, and will maximize control of competitors’ supply routes too.

Ukraine no longer figures as a strategic political ally.

Agreement on joint ownership of transit system not possible with Yushchenko in power, but may be possible with Tymoshenko and/or Yanukovych at the helm - today's closure of criminal investigations in Russia involving Tymoshenko is not a coincidence.

When Putin goes in '08 he will be one of richest men in Europe [with possibly $15bn in piggy bank?].

Putin, together with his buddies including former German chancellor Schroeder, wants to run a gas transit consortium as a private company for their own benefit, rather than permitting pipelines to be controlled by the Russian state. This consortium is to include the North European Gas Pipeline Company which is already registered in Switzerland - they are already constructing the Baltic sea gas pipeline to Germany. But he needs a Ukrainian partner. Together they will control gas supply pipelines to Europe and beyond.

Although Gazprom is demanding $230 per 1000 cu.m. of gas from Ukrainians in this gas crisis, final agreement will be $140-155 per 1000 cu.m., and transit tariff will be set at around $1.75/1000 cu.m./100 km both for transit of Turmen gas destined for Ukraine passing through Russia, and Russian gas passing through Ukraine to European countries. Gazprom will maneouver the politics so that will appear that the final deal is achieved thanks to Tymo and Yanuk, and not Yuschenkites.
Tomorrow [27th Dec] Yulia T’s bloc will present their solution to the gas problem. Several days ago Yulia stated that one of the reasons for the crisis is that, annually, 5 bn cu.m of gas purchased at $50/1000 cu.m from Gazprom, is being skimmed off by an intermediate company, RosUkrEnergo, whose shareholders are probably highly placed Russian and Ukrainian officials, of both the former and current government. This gas is then sold on for £200/1000 cu.m Plugging this scheme, would solve many problems according to Tymoshenko. [As a participant in similar schemes, she should know, as should disgraced former Naftogaz Ukrainy chairman Igor Bakai. They made billions from such schemes. When she was Deputy PM to Yushchenko, Bakai’s schemes were one of the first shut down by her. He now lives in Moscow, despite being sought by Ukrainian law enforcement agencies. Rumour has it that his surrender to Ukraine was prevented several months ago by Putin himself].

Meanwhile today, even Yanuk declared, ‘An increase in gas prices by Russia will be a blow below the belt’. Having spent three and a half years in prison for serious assault charges, he would be an authority in these matters.