Watch a mightily pissed, snorting and sneering Putin on 'Vesti' TV tonight, commenting on the Russian-Ukrainian gas crisis before the western media. Even the TV presenter looks a bit scared.
Some loosely translated bits:
"I want to emphasize, no matter how drastic this sounds, today's political authority in Ukraine is demonstrating it is incapable of solving economic problems - and today's situation provides evidence of the high degree of criminalization of its structures of authority," fumed Putin.
"Today the situation is such, that the current government of Ukraine is not capable of organizing normal transparent functioning of the economy of Ukraine on market principles, and moreover, by their actions, they are causing great harm to the Ukrainian people and to the prestige of the Ukrainian state".
"This again emphasizes that political collapse inside Ukraine itself is being observed, and speaks of the high degree of corruption in the structures of authority."
"Today in these conditions they are fighting not only about the price of gas, but for the possibility of preserving various intermediaries in order to use the dividends received for personal purposes, personal enrichment and for obtaining the necessary financial resources for future political campaigns."
He also said Ukraine should pay market rates [whatever that means], for gas , and Russia would pay European rates for transit as soon as possible ...
But the kind of language he used 'is not helpful' during conflict resolution - it's all getting rather nasty, and could cause a 'blow-back' in the Ukrainian gas pipe.
Putin also forgot to mention the the monopolistic intermediary which supplies gas to Ukraine, RosUkrEnergo, is 50 per cent owned by Gazprom, through its daughter Swiss-registered Rosgas Holding A.G. and 50 per cent by Swiss-registered Centragas Holding A.G., acting on behalf of the Ukrainians Firtash & Fursin.
This article explains why the stakes are so high both for Ukrainian and Russian politicians. [Putin mentions this year's Ukrainian presidential elections in his interview too.]
Jerome a Paris argues that Putin's closing off of all gas deliveries via Ukraine to Europe was incomprehensible and counterproductive, and may indicate he is losing control over the management of events. Check out the interesting comments to his posting too.
Or maybe his game is "first artificially raising gas prices and then attempting to raise prices even higher by cutting off most gas deliveries in the middle of a freezing winter...to create a panic-driven market in which spot prices for Russian gas would go through the roof."
*to attack someone by kicking them again and again, usually when they are lying on the ground. (British, informal)