Saturday, December 31, 2005

Russia prepares to turn off gas to Ukraine?

So is it official? --Russia prepares to turn off gas to Ukraine. Come 10 a.m. tomorrow Russia will shut off the gas supplies to Ukraine? And it will be televised?

It would be hard to know how they can shut it off. I guess they could just refuse to send any gas through the Ukrainian pipeline but that would affect the end-user Europeans. Or they could subtract, I guess, the amount of gas to be supplied to Ukraine from the total. But Ukraine says it has rights to 15% to pay the transit fee. And more could be siphoned off and not all of it would be with the approval of the government. That is how it has happened before.

It just astounds me though how the Kremlin can risk upsetting the Europeans like this. It can't possibly help either with its diplomatic relations or with its commercial relations. Its a damn them all strategy in effect, though they may think that pointing a finger at Ukraine is enough to remove any responsibility. It isn't. Russia has to be a dependable supplier for Europe or they will look at alternatives. And there is already some indication that Europeans are doing just that.

How about this for a resolution? Russia says it turns off the gas and there is an agreement in the next day or two for less than what Russia demands. The Kremlin talks it up as in the best interests of all parties to have a deal and thereby avoids a black eye--in their view. But that would be the view of an isolated Kremlin that sees the world in stark us-vs.-them terms. The damage has already been done.

Who knows though if such a result will take place. The Kremlin--I don't think the term "Russians" describes really the interests behind all of this--has signed a deal for Turkmen gas that will leave very little for Ukraine to be able to purchase. They are closing the noose a bit tighter it looks like.

I think it's clear that when it comes to Ukraine the Kremlin has lost its mind.

Of course, others who support Kremlin interests think differently about this. They argue that Ukraine has stiffed them at every turn in everything that they have done. Of course, they figure this only from the point of the Orange Revolution. What happened before that was just alright with them. But that shows what really sticks in their craw--freedom and independence for Ukraine.

1 comment:

Mortimer said...

Not the first time russia has tried to shut down the country of Ukraine, as I recall Joe Stallin did the same when he shut down all food food production in Ukraine... Is this the same scenario??? I don't know but it does remind one of the former atrocity... Hope things shape up, but if history repeats itself, it may get very cold and hungry in Ukraine before the russians march in to occupy a weakend population.