A chance to ensure energy security

After the formal ending of gas conflict between Russia and Ukraine each party has begun to speak about its own victory, though it seems to me there is a clear understanding in these two countries that the conflict hasn’t winners, only losers. Russia has lost its reputation as reliable gas supplier to Europe, and Ukraine has lost its name of blameless transit country for Russian gas. In addition, economies of these countries have suffered enormous losses running into billions of US dollars.
However at the moment neither V.Putin nor Y.Timoshenko worries about it. They have achieved their goals: Putin has fulfilled his promise to punish Ukraine in the person of Yuschenko for support of Georgia in Russian-Georgian conflict in August 2008, and Timoshenko has received Putin’s support as a candidate for the Ukrainian presidency.
Can Europe realize that it will possibly have to work with this tandem in the nearest feature? Can it in proper time perceive the threats for itself this tandem brings? Has Europe any guarantee that it will not become the next “victim” of Putin because EU’s position in Russian-Georgian conflict didn’t differ from that of Ukraine? Or the fear of Russia and EU internal differences will again bring grist to Putin’s mill. European carelessness has already led to situation when citizens of some EU countries became the main victim of the gas conflict. Russia and Ukraine had not such serious problems with gas as, for example, Bulgaria.
Nowadays EU has the real chances to disentangle from this situation with dignity and profitably for perspectives of its energy security. In the long run, now it depends exactly on EU position whether Russia will pay a real price for the gas conflict it has initiated.
To my opinion, Europe has all preconditions for that. Donald Tusk, Polish premier-minister has recently stated that nowadays European energy security obviously depends on European ability to diversify not the energy sources, but the routes of energy supply. In this connection I should remind that now Europe has three global gas pipeline projects: Nabucco that should provide Europe with the gas as alternative to Russian South Stream project and joint Russian-German North Stream project which is seen by the Kremlin as its main achievement (V.Putin proclaimed Russia energy super-power after signing that very agreement). Nevertheless, if EU vetoes the construction of North Stream and decides to speed up the construction of Nabucco pipeline that will mean a failure of Putin’s gas strategy and may be a failure of its regime. Russia understands this clearly, and it will do all in its power to urge EU member-countries to support North Stream project – the articles in support of this project will appear in European media. We should also expect some statements from influential European lobbyist of Russia, particularly, from Gerhard Schroeder etc.
Budapest meeting of 27 January will show whether Russian lobby win in Europe. During this meeting the perspectives of Nabucco project, as the main component of European energy security, will be on the agenda. In this connection there was interesting statement of Angela Merkel about attractiveness of Algeria as an alternative energy supplier.
Also, it should be noted that no matter how Russia opposes, this gas conflict gives Europe an important argument for the idea that all gas transportation routes must be under transnational control.
Moreover, the critical financial situation of Gazprom which deeply needs cash resources is advantageous for major European energy companies. Under these circumstances Russia will have to open its own resource market and that will inevitably mean the failure of its current strategy i.e. to use resources for geopolitical purposes.
At the same time – in addition to problems of Gazprom – Russia faces the challenge not to be able to provide balance of gas. It is obvious for today that Russia and Gazprom does not cope with the role of general gas exporter. With the domestic gasification, Russia really can not guarantee execution of contracts it and Gazprom signed. That’s why Russia needs access to new sources of gas in Arctic, Iran and Central Asia but it has not necessary resources and that means it will be seeking partners. Major European energy companies can be such partners.
Thus, it is very important for the EU leadership to realize that this gas conflict was not between Russia and Ukraine but between Russia and Europe. Such understanding will help not only to take right position but what is more important to take the common position in energy area. In this connection political signals coming from the European Parliament, particularly from European People's party, seem to be rather encouraging. They believe it is necessary to put pressure on EU leadership and member states so that they take consolidated position.

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Karl Mayer says ... on Sunday, Jan 25 at 3:07 PM

Now Europe has a chance to ensure its energy security http://www.eupedia.com/forum/showthread.php?t=25197

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