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A gas issue
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-01-06 11:04:55
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So what really happens with the new Russia-Ukraine dispute over the gas pipes? I think the easiet answer is that Russia pays in a very weird way the cost of being the centre of the USSR and worst Russia pays the cost of not accepting the fact that not all former Soviet republics, despite the fact that they still need Russia critically, don’t show equal gratitude.

At the same time with the prices of oil getting higher all the time, Europe becomes more dependent on natural gas and in extent from the biggest supplier in the neighbourhood, Russia. And the big question is if Russia uses gas as a political tool or whether we just misunderstand Russia. Well oddly all the theories are correct always and you just have to pick the one that suits you best.

In an open market with capitalist rules it is natural that price depends on demand and natural gas especially the last years with all the unstable situation in the Arab countries and the feeling that oil is gradually draining has become the next best element for energy so why shouldn’t the producer country follow the well learned example of the oil producers. Till now natural gas it is the cheaper solution and as Russia played the game in the beginning to attract customers to a very cheap alternative for many nations. Of course things are getting more expensive and gas had to follow.

The second thing has to do with the former USSR, when they established the natural gas market there was still the strong and united Soviet Union, all one land all working for the common good so Russia didn’t have to pay any special fees for using Ukrainian land and of course any hint of objection was dismissed from the leadership of the Union. Now Ukraine is an independent country with every right to demand a fee and every right to try to make profit, you see the leadership of the USSR had miscalculate that this day might come and that USSR would disappear in one night, literally!

Then Russia was from the beginning trying to make damage control instead of following any kind of aggressive policy and they paid the fee to the Ukrainians by giving them a very favourable price, one so good price that gave to Ukrainians the opportunity to commerce part of the natural gas they were getting from Russia with other countries with a very good profit. You just have to see the numbers to understand what I mean, the European states pay more than $400 for each thousand cubic meters of gas they gets from Russia while the price applying for Ukraine is just $179, I suppose the difference is scandalous and it is natural if the European countries complain and they don’t want to show any more understanding in the situation.

As I said before the same time things are getting more expensive, including the expenses Russia has over retaining the whole system working well and all that adds to the Russian owners, Gazprom in this case to ask for a bit more, well no so bit since they want to raise the price to $250 but still much cheaper compared to $400 the European have to spent, a price that gives plenty of space to the Ukrainians to maneuver in a capitalist environment. And saying capitalism we are coming to the final point.

Politics, of course politics. Most of the Russians including politicians and probably President Medvedev and emperor Putin themselves consider Ukraine part of Russia and they are bitter about the whole thing especially the Orange Revolution that made Ukraine stand on the other side. Russians can accept that Ukraine is independent country but they are expecting Ukraine to act as a satellite just like the good old times. But Mr. Yushchenko has crossed all the acceptable lines for the Kremlin, he didn’t only lead the Orange Revolution but he wants to lead the country inside the NATO arms making Ukraine the most faithful satellite of the American interests and that is the red line. The man is dreaming for Ukraine to become the fifty-first star of the American flag and he considers George W. Bush his god! It sounds like a joke I know but it is partly serious.

Mr. Yushchenko has crossed a lot of lines with his anti-Russian feelings, you see one more leader of a former Soviet republic just like in Estonia, Latvia or even Poland confuses the Soviet era with Russia to such level that they are able even to harm their own country and it can explained only with the help of a psychiatrist.

Perhaps what came last week for the mouth of President Medvedev has a lot of truth that answers all the above theories, "The question is can we rely on a transit country like Ukraine? Obviously there is no positive answer to this question. This is why we believe it is necessary to develop, as soon as possible, alternative transit routes. We hope that Europe takes the necessary steps to support this." But then again this needs time, a lot of time and in the meantime the problem is still there as the questions on how political the whole thing is because you see the Soviet bear has used us in political agendas hiding behind all kid of actions and is not easy to teach a dog new tricks!

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Emanuel Paparella2009-01-06 14:56:57
Indeed, present day Russia is not the former Soviet Union, on the other hand when one hears Putin and his likes wax nostalgic about the good old days when Russia (that, is the Soviet Union) was respected and as a superpower and coult throw its weight around, one begins to wonder if he too may not be in need of psychiatrist. Ah, the intricacies of the "will to power" substituting the "will to truth" in the 20th century West! It appears that such an heritage is still with us.

Emanuel Paparella2009-01-06 15:00:20
Errata: coult = could. In need of a psychiatrist.

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