EDITORIAL: Now, its Russia’s Turn for the Chills

EDITORIAL

Now, its Russia’s Turn for the Chills

Last winter, Russia sent chills down the spines of Europe’s huddled masses by turning off the spigots for the region’s heating gas, using a conflict with Ukraine as pretext.  Though Russia may have felt powerful in the short term, in the long term this may have been the single most costly of Vladimir Putin’s innumerable policy errors.

That’s because the result was the announcement last week of a deal between a group of major European nations, signed in Turkey, to build a brand new gas pipleline called Nabucco (after an opera by Verdi) which will circumvent Russia and allow Europe to draw on the stocks of Central Asia. In a final cruel cut, the Nabucco line will begin pumping gas in 2014, the same year Russia expects to host the winter Olympic games in Sochi.

And that wasn’t the end of Russia’s nightmare.

A few days later, Turkmenistan announced that it was hitching its wagon to the Nabucco train as well, giving the cartel a direct like to the most powerful Central Asian producer, a country Russia has relentlessly tried to monopolize.  Whereas a short time ago many Russophiles were talking about Russian power in Central Asia, now it appears Russia’s influence in the region has collapsed. First Kyrgyztan repudiated Russia’s efforts to drive out the Amerrican militar base it hosts, and now Turkmenistan’s crucial gas fields are being moved into European hands.  Azerbaijan also came on board, making it seem as if the entire region was toppling like dominos.

Just months ago, the Nabucco project was literally a pipe dream.  Now, it is reality.  Did Russia realize this would happen when it tried to bomb Georgian children into oblivion and attempted to freeze Ukrainian children in their beds?  Are Russia’s frenzied imperial desires regarding these two small countries really worth having its energy market in Europe shut down, the entire continent polarized against Russia for all time?

No rational person could think so. Russia’s entire domestic economy, already brutalized by a massive and unprecedented crisis and facing double-digit unemploment and inflation, depends utterly on sales of gas and oil.  The Kremlin’s crazed behavior has created a situation which can only reduce the price customers are willing to pay for Russian gas, the exact opposite of the policy Russia should be pursuing. The Kremlin’s ham-handed, shortsighted mismanagment of Russia’s foreign policy has left the country standing on the brink of absolute disaster.

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75 responses to “EDITORIAL: Now, its Russia’s Turn for the Chills

  1. Putler made a big, big mistake when deciding to leave Europe without gas in January 2009.

    The Nabucco pipeline is a great thing for all free and democratic EU-countries. Actually, we should thank Putler for his stupidity.

  2. Russia will very likely put an end to the Nabucco project later this year, launching a new assault on Georgia and occupying her territory. Sad, but true… Only after a regime change has taken place in Iran the Nabucco pipeline can become reality, running through Iranian territory, instead of traversing Georgia.

    Yesterday, Merkel met Medvedev in Munich. Did Munich 2009 produce a new Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with secret protocols (a “Version2.0″) ? Nord Stream pipeline is very obviously a russian neo-colonialist project, with an intention to subordinate Europe politically and economically under Russian dominion. Please say NO to Nord Stream: http://www.balticsea.lt/en . Please spread the word about this appeal in social networks such like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Orkut etc.

  3. Nabucco will remain a pipe-dream without Iranian gas.

    Detente with Iran is critical for that project to go forward. a) there is not enough gas outside Iran and CA to fill the pipeline b) without Iran, there is no way to get CA gas to the pipeline without crossing Russian territory.

    So, unless Obama makes a deal with the Iranians, Nabucco will remain nothing but a joke.

    • Wrong Karma (as usual)
      The Turkomen want to use Nabucco to bypass the highly unreliable transit country Russia.

      And there is also Iraq.

  4. And how, my dear geographically challenged friend, will they do so without a) crossing through Iran, or b) the Caspian?

    And as for b) it is not currently legally possible to build the pipeline, as the status of Caspian is undecided, and there is no agreement among the littoral states as to how it would be divided.

  5. Guess again.

    The recent change of leadership in Turkmenistan re-opens the prospect of that country’s joining the trans-Caspian gas project, as a major potential supplier to Europe through the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey route. One interim solution under consideration would not have to link mainland Turkmenistan with mainland Azerbaijan. The pipeline could, instead, connect Turkmenistan’s offshore gas field, Block One, with Azerbaijan’s offshore platforms at the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil fields. Both locations are situated far out at sea, thus obviating the need for a coast-to-coast pipeline and making it very difficult for Russia to resist on “legal” grounds. Malaysia-based Petronas is developing Turkmenistan’s Block One, which holds reserves estimated at up to 1 trillion cubic meters of gas.

    Kazakhstan is discussing with EU and U.S. officials the possibility of participating in a trans-Caspian pipeline that would connect with Nabucco in Turkey via Azerbaijan and Georgia (see EDM, March 2, April 5). Once the infrastructure is in place at Turkmenistan’s Block One to connect with Azerbaijan’s offshore fields, Kazakhstan could link up with that system through a pipeline to Turkmenistan that would not belong in the legal category of “trans-Caspian” either. These proposals are being considered as part of a wider range of non-Russian options for supplying Europe through the Nabucco project, long-term. Azerbaijan is an ample source for the short to medium term.

    http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=32732

  6. If your opinion is widely shared in the West, the main beneficiaries of Nabucco will be Iran or Russia. :)

    But, keep on dreaming.

  7. But, still answer me this:
    Is there any indication that the Transcaspian pipeline will be build anytime soon?

    It’s a legal problem, my dear geographically and internationally law challenged friend.

  8. Did you read the article my intelectually challenged friend?

    • I did, Andrew, but it says nary about the outstanding legal issues regarding the status of the Caspian, and their impact on the Trans-Caspian.
      But, stick your fingers in your ears, and close your eyes. Iranian or Russian laughter, however, may still get through to you in about, say…. five years time.

  9. http://peakoil.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=49841

    The leaders of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, both major producers of natural gas in the Caspian region, have given assurances that their respective countries stand ready to serve as suppliers to the Nabucco gas pipeline, which is being backed by the US and the European Union.
    Azerbaijan’s gas reserves are sufficient to supply more than one pipeline project, according to Rovnag Abdullayev, the head of State Oil Co. of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR).

    “Turkmenistan, consistent with the principles of diversifying its energy transport network on world markets, is considering all existing possibilities to participate in major international projects, as for example the Nabucco project,” Berdymukhamedov said.

    The upbeat statements by the two Caspian leaders came just ahead of the July 13 meeting in Ankara where the prime ministers of Turkey, Austria, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary are scheduled to sign an intergovernmental deal to allow the pipeline to pass their territory.

    Although the US is not a party to the Nabucco treaty, it has been a strong advocate for the pipeline, saying it would diversify Europe’s energy supply, benefiting the energy security of Washington’s NATO allies and easing the strategic energy threats to all hydrocarbon consuming nations

    • “Azerbaijan’s gas reserves are sufficient to supply more than one pipeline project, according to Rovnag Abdullayev, the head of State Oil Co. of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR).”

      That’s actually funny.

  10. Of course, a lot of your arguments rely on Iran retaining a pro-Russian government. Check this out:

    • Wow. Dozens of people standing around in a parking lot! Clearly this is the most successful pro-American and anti-Putin action in the history of the Middle East and Iran since 1980.

      Lets’ just run our pipeline through that parking lot, financed by US taxpayers, as always.

      If this doesn’t work – the only victims will be the US taxpayers. So, who cares?

      • Well, since most news sources are reporting the numbers at the July 17 protests in the tens of thousands, that’s a lot of dozens. Of course, this is only one small protest among them, and not every one was screaming “Death to Russia” and “Death to China” at the things but many were, largely for the first time in the Green Movement, and furthermore in response to an Iranian Government counterprotest (Rafsanjani if I remember correctly), trying and failing to get his people to chant “Death to America.”

  11. No, my argument relies on Iran and the US being at loggerheads. Iran never has been, nor is, nor will be Pro-Russia.
    Russia, however, likes Iran and the US being at loggerheads. That’s my point.

    • Karma,

      You should learn from LR, Andrew and Penny how to think! Grow a brain! Your silly argument that the pipeline would need Iran’s apporval relies on the false idea that we have to ask Iran for approval. What we can do to Iran is exactly what we have successfully done to Iraq, that’s all.

      Isn’t a war against Iran a small and affordable price to pay for the visceral pleasure of further irritating Putin a bit? No biggie. We can just take out another $2 trillion loan from China to finance yet another successful war. It’s not like we shall ever have to repay these loans.

      Another idea: Iran lies in the way of the Nabucco pipeline only on the globe in current use. We can just manufacture and sell at Walmart another globe of Earth, where Iran is no longer in the way.

  12. If Nabucco ever worked, the biggest losers of all would be USA’s closest allies – the European transit countries of Ukraine and Poland, while the biggest winner would be an abominable enemy – Iran.

    But what is new here? USA has always been ready and willing to hurt friends and reward worst enemies for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Exxon, Chevron and BP.

    Who contributes more to US politicians’ election coffers? Ukraine or Exxon? So tell Ukraine to eat cake!

  13. First Nabucco will have a maximum capacity of 31 billion cubic metres a year. That’s less than 10% possibly as low as 5% of Europe’s gas and that’s only when the pipeline is at maximum capacity in 2019. Europe’s domestic production of gas is falling yet demand rising, yet Nabucco will not even meet this demand never mind reduce Russia’s 20% supply (hardly a monopoly). As for supply, Russia has already secured 500 million cubic meters of gas and will still be the largest transporter of central asian gas. This is even set to increase not just with the south stream and nord streams but also a likely link to the nabucco pipeline itself. Nabucco is likely to provide a free outlet for Russia to lower eastern Europe.

  14. “That’s because the result was the announcement last week of a deal between a group of major European nations, signed in Turkey, to build a brand new gas pipleline called Nabucco”

    Brand new?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nabucco_pipeline

    Preparations for this project started in February 2002. On 28 June 2005, the Joint Venture Agreement was signed by five Nabucco Partners.

    Iran has also proposed to supply gas to Nabucco pipeline and this was backed by Turkey; however, due the political conditions this is rejected by the EU and the United States.[2][3][35][36][37] There is also an option, that Nabucco could be fed with Russian natural gas through the Blue Stream pipeline.[28][37]

    —————-

    Oh yeh, every dictator and oil company CEO will be happy, except for those poor Ukrainian people.

    How much is this scam going to cost US taxpayers?

    • U.S. taxpayers don’t build oil/gas pipelines, that money comes from investors and oil/gas companies. I’m sure there are plenty of obstacles for building the new pipeline, but if Putin shuts things down and plays games with the gas again this next winter, we could see things getting done much faster than any nitwit russophobe could imagine. Then I guess the only option for Putler would be to covertly disrupt/blow-up the pipeline, similar to what happened earlier this year with one of his suppliers. Anyone doing business with the Russians these days is a fool. Their only goal is to seperate you from your money, no matter what the method. After screwing over BP and Shell, now Putin is begging them to come back, because the worthless Russian oil companies couldn’t find there ass even if they were sitting on both hands. Hopefully the western oil companies will give the Rooshans the middle finger.

      • “U.S. taxpayers don’t build oil/gas pipelines, that money comes from investors and oil/gas companies. ”

        Just as U.S. taxpayers don’t build AIG and General Motors. They just pay for them out of their pockets.

        • That’s right, the U.S. taxpayers did not BUILD AIG or GM. Show me where the U.S. government is building pipelines? Probably can’t find that in your KGB handbook. Do the world a favor and get a frontal lobotomy, you’ll be a better Putin butt-boy that way.

          • I am tired of my taxpayer money going to bail out AIG, GM and help Exxon and BP build their empires. I don’t see why my money should be taken away from me and given as bonuses to Goldman-Sachs leaches.

            I have much better use for my money: to educate my own children and to proived them with good healthcare.

            I know that Exxon, BP, Halliburton, Lokheed, AIG and GM own our politicians through their contribution to their re-election funds, but I want to live in a free-market democracy, where my money is spent on me, not on corporate billionnairs. If they fail – let them go belly up. Our econ0omic system is not free-market. It is communsm for the wealthy investors, funded by the sweat of average taxpayers.

            • russophobes,
              Move your happy ass to Russia then, it’s so much more respectable and free of corruption. You will still be free to bash the U.S., probably get paid by Putin too. If you were a real American, you wouldn’t expect anything from your government, just to be left alone. Most big corporations give money to both parties, the real crooks are the trial lawyers, environmentalist and unions who own the democratic party, and they happen to be in charge at the moment. If you think healthcare is expensive now, just wait until it’s free :-)

          • “Show me where the U.S. government is building pipelines?”

            Taxpayers don’t build pipelines. We are suckers and herds milked by Big Oil. We just sacrifice their hard-earned money to subsidise the welfare for oil companies:

            http://www.reuters.com/article/OILPRD/idUSN0832413720090608

            US bill to raise Alaska gas pipeline loan guarantee

            WASHINGTON, June 8 (Reuters) – Key U.S. lawmakers have reached a deal on legislation that would boost the federal government’s loan guarantee for building a massive pipeline that would transport Alaska’s huge natural gas reserves to the lower 48 States. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee have agreed to a measure that would raise the 2004 loan guarantee program for the pipeline project to $30 billion from $18 billion.

            http://www.cacianalyst.org/?q=node/4113

            THE BAKU-TBILISI-CEYHAN PIPELINE: A RETROSPECTIVE AND A LOOK AT THE FUTURE

            In addition, U.S. government agencies, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and Export-Import Bank provided financing and, in the case of OPIC, political risk insurance for the project. Funding in the form of loans was also made available by the World Bank

            http://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/art-83226

            The World Bank’s board of directors have recently approved an investment guarantee for the US$590 million West Africa gas pipeline (WAGP)

            Who, if not US taxpayers, fund much of the World Bank? Why can’t Exxon and BP provide their own guarantees, without putting US taxpayers on the hook? Surely, Exxon and Halliburton own more spending money than the embattled US taxpayers. We have already spent all our money on securing Iraqi oil for them. Enough is enough.

            • I’m sure Nancy Pelosi loves you. Let’s all mindlessly bash oil companies, throw in the big drug companies too. The government won’t lose any money giving loan guarantees for major projects. The government did fund the Hoover Dam, was that bad? Energy projects benefit the whole economy, I have no more to discuss with you.

              • Why are you such an anti-free-market and anti-Jeffersonian communist? Why should the government (read: taxpayers) fund private corporations? Let the free market sort things out. The fall of the Soviet Union attests to the advantages of the free market over government economies.

                Some loans, underwritten by the US taxpayers, worked out fine and never defaulted. But lots of such loans blew up, leaving the taxpayers to foot the bill.

                If the project is going to be profitable – why should US taxpayers be forced to provide guarantees? If the project is good, it will attract enough funds without forcing taxpayers’ guarantees. The fact that a project cannot attact enough investors **without** taxpayer guarantees – proves that the investors don’t trust it. Then why should taxpayers? We have nothing to win and everything to lose from this scam.

  15. http://www.globalinsight.com/SDA/SDADetail16317.htm.

    EU is simultaneously looking to support new gas pipeline projects that would reduce reliance on Ukraine for transit, the fact that 80% of Europe’s gas imports from Russia flow via Ukraine…

    Tymoshenko argued that an investment in the modernisation and expansion of Ukraine’s GTS, even at US$5.5 billion, would be far cheaper than the cost of construction of alternative pipelines to supply Europe.

  16. This whole battle of pipelines is nothing more than a competition between Gazprom and Exxon for profits. A lot of US taxpayers own more Gazprom and Lukoil shares than Exxon shares. Why should we help Exxon shareholders defeat Gazprom sharehoilders?

    Is US a free-market country or a welfare ssytem for certain Big Oil shareholders?

  17. “Putler made a big, big mistake when deciding to leave Europe without gas in January 2009. ”

    Putin did no such thing. He kept on sending exactly the same amount of gas to Europe as always and as contracted for. It was Yuschenko who decided to syphon off this Europe-bound gas. He managed to do so because Russian gas, destined for Europe, has to transit through Ukraine; and thus Ukraine can cut Europe from gas any time it wants.

    The solution is to send Russian gas to civilised European countries directly, without any intermediaries.

    • So that explains why he went on TV and ordered the head of gazprom to cut off the gas (including that to europe)?

      The correct and legal proceedure would have been to take Ukraine to the international court of arbitration (that is what it is for after all), but of course as Russians have no respect for laws, they viloated their contracts by cutting off the gas.

      Ukraine did not cut off the gas, the Russians did.

      Get it right.

  18. “So that explains why he went on TV and ordered the head of gazprom to cut off the gas (including that to europe)?”

    He did no such thing. Gazprom kept on pushing gas in the volumes at least as high as those contracted with Europe.

    Putin cut off gas only to Ukriane, because of non-payment. If I refuse to pay my gas bill, my gas company will cut me off too.

    • No, the Russians cut off sufficient gas to cause the pressure in the pipes to fall below the level at which gas could be pumped.

      EU observers blamed Russia for the cut off not Ukraine.

      As for your legal example, unfortunately that does not wash.

      Russia had a deal to supply EU states with a set amount of gas, problems with an intermediary do not remove the requirement to supply as per contract.

      Of course we can all see Russiam contempt for law (international and otherwise) with its actions that caused an explosion in the Turkmenistan-Russia pipeline (in order to try and avoid having to pay Turkmenistan for gas)

  19. “The correct and legal proceedure would have been to take Ukraine to the international court.”

    If I don’t pay my gas bill, my gas company is not going to go to court first. It will just cut me off, and wait for **me** to take them to court if I want to claim that it was a mistake.

  20. “The Turkomen want to use Nabucco to bypass the highly unreliable transit country Russia.”

    Why do you say that? Has Gazprom/Russia ever create problems with the transit of Turkmen gas?

    The fact is that not only Russia, but its predecessor, USSR, have been extremely concerned about their image as a reliable supplier of oil/gas that they never break any contracts.

    If EU is worried that Russia is a risky supplier – let them switch to Arab/Iranian oil and see what the reeal political blackmail feels like. Who in USA can ever forget how USA’s Arab “allies” like Saudi Arabia have used oil as a weapon against USA in the horrible oil embargo in 1973. Who can forget those mile-long lines to gas stations? And they will again use oil as a weapon in the next Arab-Israeli struggle. Yet, nobody in USA or EU is worried about that, or are they? We, Americans, still import most of our oil from hateful Arabs and from Hugo Chavez’ Venezuela. And a lot of our money goes directly to Bin Laden and his family. Is funding Bin Laden and Iran’s nuke-crazy mullahs better than funding Putin?

    So I say – let Europeans foreswear Russian gas and import Arab oil instead, like we do. Let them suffer!

    • Well obviously you are poorly informed.

      MOSCOW: Russia and Turkmenistan may turn to international courts if negotiations fail over how to deal with the aftermath of a controversial gas

      pipeline explosion, a Turkmen official said on Friday, RIA-Novosti reported.

      “Turkmenistan blames Russia for blowing up the pipeline, which delivers Turkmen gas partly destined for Europe, by lowering the pressure without enough warning.”

      http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/World/Europe/Russia-Turkmen-may-go-to-court-if-gas-talks-fail/articleshow/4594223.cms

      “Turkmenistan threatened to take Russia to court over last month’s gas pipeline explosion, RIA news agency reported, escalating a dispute that has severed a vital energy link through Russia to Europe.
      Turkmenistan blames Russia for blowing up the pipeline, which carries more than half of its most valuable export, by cutting the gas flows without enough warning.

      “When you shut off the flows, you get what is called a vacuum-bomb effect,” Odek Odekov, head of Turkmen state geological institute Turkmengeologia, told reporters during an energy conference in Paris, RIA reported.

      “The system has to be prepared for a shut-off three days in advance, and Russia did it in the course of one day,” he said.

      Russia’s gas export monopoly Gazprom denies any wrongdoing and it has said it hopes to resolve the issue through talks. The company has avoided making detailed public statements on the matter.

      The two sides are now discussing the payment of damages for the incident and may take the case to international courts of arbitration if they cannot settle it on their own, the news agency reported Odekov as saying, without giving a direct quote.

      Gazprom, which controls the trunk pipelines, declined to comment on Odekov’s remarks. Turkmen government officials in Ashgabat declined to elaborate.

      Odekov said Turkmenistan has been forced to shut off 195 gas production fields as 92 percent of its exports to Russia remained suspended, Platts news agency reported. The rest is flowing through another link via Kazakhstan to Russia.

      Every month, Turkmenistan is therefore losing between $800 million and $1 billion per month in export revenues, said Mikhail Korchemkin, director of East European Gas Analysis. “Turkmenistan has every right to demand this money,” he said.”

      http://www.javno.com/en-world/turkmen-may-sue-russia-for-vacuum-bomb-explosion_261741

      • Sounds good to me. Let the courts decide. As long as Russia abides by the upcoming court decision, Tukemnia will have nothing to complain about.

        • Thats funny, you were previously stating that Russia should ignore the courts and cut off gas to Ukraine and the EU.

          Russia has an extremely poor record of compliance with international law and the international courts.

          Just look at its lack of compliance with the European Court of Human Rights (to which Russia is subject as a member of the OSCE before you start asking about its jurisdiction).

          I am sure that Robert (who is fairly expert with this issue) can give you an education.

          • Andrew said: “Thats funny, you were previously stating that Russia should ignore the courts and cut off gas to Ukraine and the EU.”

            Where did I say that?! You are a pathological liar, Sir.

            • “The correct and legal proceedure would have been to take Ukraine to the international court.”

              If I don’t pay my gas bill, my gas company is not going to go to court first. It will just cut me off, and wait for **me** to take them to court if I want to claim that it was a mistake.

              Even in cases of force majeure, there are legal proceedures, and force majeure is only applicable when the event was unforseen (this had been coming for months) and the party in question does not have a hand in the “act of God”

              Now considering that the Russians were actively involved in pressuring the Ukrainians (who had enough warning to build up a considerable stockpile of gas), and then cutting off the gas in 2 stages (1st to Ukraine, and 2nd to most of Russia’s customers in the EU), force majeure is not applicable.

              This was not an “act of God” by defenition of FM unless you care to admit the Russians were wageing an economic war (which does not count anyway) against Ukraine?

          • Turkmenistan can make whatever threats she wants, but in the end one cannot really prevail in a breach of contract action against a sovereign country. Russia can simply ignore this, and even if there should be a judgement against her, it would be unenforceable anyway. Russophobes above got it right: “as long as Russia abides…”

            Only political considerations may make her (and really, any other country) “abide.” European Court of Human Rights is not a true court of law, it’s more or less a political entity; the most this court can do is to issue a statement or declaration saying that Russia is in violation, that’s all. In any event it has no sheriff who would go and serve a writ of execution on Russia

            • I agree with you on that one, as is shown by Russia’s total contempt for the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and its rulings regards Russian crimes in the Caucasus.

            • Exactly. If and when Russia doesn’t abide by the ruling of the international cotract arbitration courts on this matter, I will have to change my position.

              Moreover, the responsible legal party here is not Russia but the Gazprom Corporation, which owns the pipeline, so the ” sovereign rights” don’t apply.

  21. “If you were a real American, you wouldn’t expect anything from your government..”

    I am a libertarian. I expect nothing from my government except freedom, physical security and law-enforcement. But why should we pay taxes to the Big Brother government for anything else, especially if even you admit that we can’t expect anything good to come out from government?

    “just to be left alone. ”

    Exactly. Just leave taxpayers alone and don’t tax us to death, using our hard-earned money to enrich irresponsible Wall Street traders.

    No wonder libertarians’ favourite paraphrase saying is: “Ask not what the government can do for you. Ask what it can do **to** you.”

    • Taxes is the price we pay for having civilization, which comprises more than just freedom, physical security and law enforcement. So, don’t be silly. Every single developed and civilized country in the world has high taxes (and of them, ours are probably the lowest), and every third world stinking hole has low taxes, including Russia.

      However, not many people from the West want to move based on this. Taxes is not everything.

  22. “Russia had a deal to supply EU states with a set amount of gas, problems with an intermediary do not remove the requirement to supply as per contract.”

    Sure they do. Every business contract has a number of “force majeure” clauses:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Force_majeure

    Force Majeure is a common clause in contracts which essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under the contract.

    For example, if I have a contract with Netflix to deliver 5 movies per month to me, and the Post Office, FedEx and UPS go on strike for 2 months (as happens in Europe), then Netflix cannot deliver those movies to me.

    The same here. If Ukraine refused to trnasition Russian gas to Europe – how could Russia deliver it? Via UPS? :-)

    Surely, if Russia had broken the contract with Europe, the latter would have taken Russia to court for damages, as Turkmenia is doing.

    Your argument is that for eliminating Ukraine and Belarus from the gas transit equation.

    • But Ukraine did not refuse to transit Russian gas to the EU.

      Ukraine was transiting the gas when RUSSIA cut it off.

      This is the reason the EU is looking for alternatives to Russian gas.

      BTW the name of the country you refer to as “Turkmenia” is actually “Turkmenistan”

  23. “Ukraine was transiting the gas when RUSSIA cut it off.”

    But Russia didn’t cut off the gas. It always pumped more than enough gas to satisfy the EU demand. How come there was a lot of gas going into Ukraine and none coming out of it? Is it a black box or a black hole? Where did that gas go? Evaporate?

  24. No, according to all balanced (non Russian) accounts, the Russians turned the gas off.

    The Russians refused to supply the EU observers sent to monitor the situation with evidence of Ukraines supposed theft of gas, whereas the Ukrainians were most cooperative with the EU

    The only drop in gas pressure caused by Ukraine was the use of some of the gas for technical purposes (to power the pumping stations), a miniscule amount allowed for under the terms of the transit agreement.

    Of course Russia accused Ukraine of “stealing” gas to which it seems it was entitled by the transit contract.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/07/world/europe/07gazprom.html

    Seriously, if you believe anything the Russian government has to say you need your head read.

    They are currently rehabilitating Stalin of all people.

  25. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/news/2009/01/mil-090108-rferl01.htm

    Twenty-one million cubic meters (mcm) of gas needs to be added to volume daily in order to keep gas moving through the pipeline.

    Heinz Hilbrecht, the European Commission’s director in charge of energy-supply security, said on January 8 that Gazprom’s and Naftohaz’s transit contract stipulates that responsibility for providing the 21 mcm falls to Ukraine.

    Hilbrecht said Naftohaz thus appears to be in violation of its contractual agreement by diverting the 21 mcm it was obliged to contribute to the pipeline volume.

  26. My mistake.

    However he also stated:

    “Hilbrecht also noted that Gazprom is content to supply other transit countries — such as the Czech Republic and Slovakia — with the extra gas needed to keep transit volumes flowing.

    “We would expect that Gazprom as a reliable partner for European companies shows goodwill,” he said, suggesting the Russian company should back down on this issue.”

    http://www.rferl.org/content/Russia_Ukraine_Hold_Gas_Dispute_Talks_In_Moscow/1367662.html

  27. Yes, his message to Russia was: “Sure, you are right from the legal point of view. But you are more mature and should let your little brother play with your toys. Just give Yuschenko some free gas so that he will allow your gas to flow to EU again”

  28. russophobes ,
    Moscovite accusations of Ukraine ” stealing ”
    gas destined for EU , is typical of their usual
    tactic ; clamoring loudly and blaming the
    other guy . They feel that if they make enough
    noise , this will make it right . This , together
    with support from appeasers like the cowardly
    germans and french , permits the moscovites
    to hold the rest of the EU customers hostage ,
    while shifting the blame on Ukraine . Only the
    naive or downright ignorant are not able to see
    through this smoke screen .
    I’m not sure into which catagory you fall , since
    in all your posts you fail to mention the REAL
    reason why the moscovites shut of the gas . And
    that reason was political , it was meant to put
    pressure on Ukraine and try to keep them in
    line with Moscov’s policies as administered by
    Ras-putin .It had nothing to do with non payment. You might recall that there were
    numerous ( albeit faint ) admonishments toward
    Moscov , not to use the gas supply as a political
    tool .
    As far as Ukraine stealing gas , this was all part
    of a great scheme of dis information along with
    such tid bits that Ukraine was selling their
    super early warning system , ” Kolchuha ” to
    Iraq and housing torture prisons on their
    territory . They were also false of course , but
    the damage was done .

    • Sure, sure. Everybody, including the European Commission’s director in charge of energy-supply security, is lying; and only Yuschenko is as pristine as the undriven snow.

      Since nobody outside or inside Ukraine appreciates how honest Yuschenko and the Gas Station Queen Tymoshenko are, there is ony one solution: to build new pipelines to by-pass Ukraine. That way, nobody will ever have any reason to falsely accuse it of syphoning off gas. :-)

  29. http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2009/07/18/66858.shtml

    URGENT!! RUSSIAN TROOPS INCREASE THEIR PRESENCE IN ABKHAZIA OVER THE LAST 24 HOURS,MANY RUSSIAN KREMLIN-JOURNALISTS ARRIVED THERE YESTERDAY! LET`S RECALL;THAT THE SAME THINGS HAPPEND ON AUGUST 4 LAST YEAR,THREE DAYS BEFORE THE RUSSIAN INVASION.

  30. The Kavkaz Center caused a major controversy in September 2004 when the server it was being hosted on, located in Lithuania, was shut down by Lithuanian authorities on hate speech charges, after a letter from Shamil Basayev claiming responsibility for the Beslan school hostage crisis and a series of photos from the preparations to the attack were published on the site.[9]

  31. War in Abkhazia (1992–1993)

    On August 26 armed Chechens captured Valery Maliuk from Eshera, just because he expressed his sympathy to Georgians. On the same day they raped Georgian teenagers and along with the Abkhaz militants committed atrocities in the village of Ordzhonikidze.[13]

    Thousands of volunteer paramilitaries, mainly Chechens and Cossacks from the militarized Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus (CMPC) joined the Abkhaz military to fight the Georgian government.

    Chechens and other north Caucasians from the Russian Federation reportedly joined local Abkhaz troops in the commission of atrocities…

    Russian border guards allowed the Chechen fighters led by Shamil Basayev to cross into Abkhazia or at least did nothing to prevent them from arriving in the conflict zone.[33] The defense minister in the secessionist government and one of the main organizers of the Abkhaz armed units was the professional Russian military officer Sultan Sosnaliev from the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic.

    Chechen militants of the CMPC later left Abkhazia to take part in the First Chechen War with Russia.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shamil_Basayev

    The following year, 1992, Basayev traveled to Abkhazia, a breakaway region of Georgia, to assist the local separatist movement against the Georgian government’s attempts to regain control of the region. Basayev became the commander-in-chief of the forces of the Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus (a volunteer unit of pan-Caucasian nationalists, composed mainly of Chechens and Cossacks. Their involvement was crucial in the Abkhazian war and in October 1993 the Georgian government suffered a decisive military defeat, after which most of the ethnic Georgian population of the region was driven out by ethnic cleansing. Muslim Circassian volunteers are estimated to have killed between 25,000 and 35,000 non-Abkhaz civilians during the conflict.

    • Don’t forget all the Russian troops that raped and murdered in Abkhazia, the Black Sea fleet that bombarded Sokhumi, the Russian Air Forces that bombed Georgian towns, refugee columns and the Russian officers that planned separatist attacks, that officered separatist units, that supplied separatists with equipment.

      Shamyl Besayev was a hero of Russia for his actions in Georgia.

  32. “Don’t forget all the Russian troops that raped and murdered in Abkhazia”

    I haven’t seen this information before. Where does it come from?

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

    Have you seen Russia’s multiple European Court for Human Rights convictions for state-sponsored murder in Chechnya? Or is that another gap in your “education”?

    • The Human Rights Watch states: Although the Russian government continued to declare itself officially neutral in the war, parts of Russian public opinion and a significant group in the parliament, primarily Russian nationalists, who had never been favourably disposed toward the Georgians, began to tilt toward the Abkhaz at least by December.[9] During this period the Abkhaz side obtained a large number of armor, tanks (T-72 and T-80) and heavy artillery. The question remains whether there were specific orders concerning the transfer of weapons to Abkhaz side and if so, whom they were issued by. Russian border guards allowed the Chechen fighters led by Shamil Basayev to cross into Abkhazia or at least did nothing to prevent them from arriving in the conflict zone.[33] The defense minister in the secessionist government and one of the main organizers of the Abkhaz armed units was the professional Russian military officer Sultan Sosnaliev from the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic.

      The most obvious example of Russian support to the Abkhaz side in 1993 was the bombing of Georgian-held Sukhumi by Russian fighter-bombers. The Russian Defence minister Pavel Grachev consistently denied it, but after Georgians succeeded in bringing down one SU-27 fighter-bomber and UN experts identified the dead pilot as Russian it became irrefutable. Nevertheless some equipment was turned over to Georgia according to the previous agreements in 1993. Russian general Grachev claimed, that Georgian side has painted the aircraft to resemble Russian Air Force aircraft and bombed their own positions, killing hundreds of their own people in Eshera and Sukhumi. This statement raised anger and utter contempt among Georgians toward the Russian side.

      The Russian journalist Dmitry Kholodov, who has witnessed the Russian bombardment of Sukhumi, wrote a couple of compiling reports with detailed description of humanitarian catastrophe:

      “The shelling of Sukhumi by Russians is the most disgusting thing in this war. All the residents of Sukhumi remember the first shelling. It took place on December 2, 1992. The first rocket fell on Peace Street. They struck at crowded places. The next strategic target was the town market, which was hit with great precision. Eighteen people were killed that day. There were always lots of people in the market.”[34]
      Kholodov also reported on the Russian volunteers fighting on the separatist side:

      “Russians, too, are fighting there. We often heard from Georgian guards how Russian mercenaries were attacking: It’s a blood-curdling sight – they have helmets and firm, bullet-proof jackets on and their legs are armored as well. They advance with their heads bent down, like robots ready to kill. There is no use shooting at them. No tanks are needed, they are followed by the Abkhaz behind.”[34]
      On February 25, the Georgian Parliament appealed to the UN, European Council and Supreme Council of the Russian Federation demanding the withdrawal of Russian forces from Abkhazia and stating, that Russia waged “an undeclared war” against Georgia.[35]

      Georgian Parliament adopted another resolution on April 28, 1993, which openly blamed Russia in political facilitation of ethnic cleansing and genocide against Georgians.[36]

      Russian policy during the final battle for Sukhumi in September 1993, immediately, after the breach of the ceasefire by the Abkhaz forces, appeared to follow several lines. Russian officials condemned the attack, issued calls to Abkhaz forces to cease the offensive and its accompanying human rights violations and reportedly cut off electricity and telephone service to parts of Abkhazia from September to December 1993. Russia also supported resolutions in the Security Council condemning Abkhaz forces for breaching the ceasefire. At the same time, the Russian government criticized the Georgian government for refusing, once the attack was underway, to negotiate. As the Human Rights Watch report notes “it is doubtful, however, that Russian forces in or near Abkhazia were as surprised as the Russian government seemed to be. Initiating an offensive as large as the one undertaken, in three different directions at once, must have required extensive movement of forces and resupply during the days leading up to it.” Russian forces on the Georgian-Abkhaz border, who were supposed to police the ceasefire made no attempt to forestall the attack. The Abkhaz weapons were stored near the front and were returned to the Abkhaz by Russian military mission when hostilities restarted.[37] Ataman Nikolay Pusko, a notable commander of some 1,500 Cossack volunteers fighting against Georgians in Abkhazia, later claimed, that his sotnia was the first to enter Sukhumi.[38]

      In a Time Magazine article published on October 4, 1993, Georgians said Russian Army officers provided Abkhazian separatists, at the beginning using mere hunting rifles and shotguns, with sophisticated weapons like BM-21 multiple rocket launchers and Sukhoi SU-25 jet aircraft, plus battlefield intelligence

      And

      A second issue is the question of whether, and to what extent, any outside fighters were surrogates for branches of the Russian government or armed forces, apparently operating on their own or under command of the Abkhaz, but in fact following orders laid down by officials in the Russian government. This latter question is central with respect to Russian nationals fighting in the conflict. It is also central to one of the key inquiries of this report, viz., whether the Russian government has provided security assistance to abusive parties; whether its forces, acting either overtly or covertly, have directly committed human rights abuses in the conflict; and at what level of command such actions were permitted or ordered.

      In August 1993, Human Rights Watch interviewed a group of six Russian fighters at a refugee hotel in Gudauta, Abkhazia.202 Human Rights Watch found the six in a small room of the hotel, late at night, cleaning their weapons. They said they had arrived a few days earlier by helicopter from the then-besieged town of Tkvarcheli. When asked what they had been doing in Tkvarcheli % a city under siege, by that time, for nearly a year, whose residents were reportedly suffering from malnutrition and deprivation % the leader initially said they were “businessmen just visiting the area.” After a little more conversation, he acknowledged that he and his men had been fighting “against the Georgians who were trying to wipe out our little brothers, the Abkhaz.”

      Human Rights Watch asked the backgrounds of the men. All of them reported they had been either KGB- or Russian-army trained. They said they had been part of an “independent formation that had decided to fight for the rights of Russians.” One man showed us a photograph of what he described as the original group of some thirty men in Moscow. When asked when the photograph was taken, he said it was before the group first saw action in Moldova.203 Asked where the group had seen action, another replied, “Abkhazia, Transdniester,204 and some other places,” but he did not elaborate. The leader said they had started out in Moscow with about thirty men, “all experienced, disciplined Russian professionals, not like the Georgians here,” but that over time they had been reduced to just these six. Most of the casualties had occurred elsewhere, but, he said, they had lost half a dozen or so in Tkvarcheli during the months they had been there.

      Asked how the fighters had reached Tkvarcheli in the first place, and how they were kept supplied with ammunition, the leader replied that they had gone in on Russian helicopter flights under the auspices of the Russian government’s State Committee for Extraordinary Situations. The leader emphasized that, as he saw it, the mission of the fighters and the humanitarian relief workers was the same % to protect the civilian population in Tkvarcheli from being driven out of their homes by the Georgians. It was his opinion that the entire operation of feeding civilians and delivering humanitarian assistance to Tkvarcheli was integrated with a military effort, of which he was part, to prevent what he referred to as the “ethnic cleansing” of Tkvarcheli. If the Georgians “broke through,” he said, they would “destroy these people. They have elsewhere.” He also emphasized that Tkvarcheli had a large ethnic Russian population for which he had a special responsibility.

      Human Rights Watch asked how the fighters were paid. One said that the Abkhaz government “has nothing.” Another said that they were paid by the authorities of the “Dniester Moldovan Republic,” the autonomous region in eastern Moldova that won de facto independence and finances itself with Russian assistance. They would not reveal how much they were paid, but did say that they were paid in U.S. dollars and that the money was deposited into bank accounts in Moscow.

      Asked directly whether they were Russian government troops, the leader appeared to consider carefully before replying. He then said that no, they were not Russian government forces. They were, he said, “independent patriotic fighters % but professionals who know how to fight well.” After a moment he added, “Of course, there are many in the [Russian] Army who share our patriotism.”

      Human Rights Watch’s interviews with these Russian fighters are of significance because they provide evidence that Moscow may have been supplying direct military assistance in the Abkhaz conflict. The fighters stated that they, their weapons, and ammunition were transported on official Russian government relief flights. Human Rights Watch is inclined to believe that the Russian officials who arranged the entire relief effort may have thought of the provision of Russian fighters as consistent with the humanitarian nature of the mission, just as these men did. These men saw preventing the Georgians from achieving their military aims % the fall of Tkvarcheli % as inextricably intertwined with protecting the civilian inhabitants from pillage and forced relocation by Georgian forces who, as they correctly pointed out, had engaged in such practices in Sukhumi and elsewhere. In this respect, at least, they saw little reason to conceal their connection with the Russian government.

      On the basis of these interviews, and in light of the abuses that have taken place in the Abkhaz war, Human Rights Watch is concerned that Russian government officials in Moscow have sanctioned the sending of Russian fighters to Abkhazia as agents of the Russian Federation. Regardless of the question as to which Russian officials were in charge of sending Russian fighters to Abkhazia, Human Rights Watch holds the government of the Russian Federation responsible for the actions in Abkhazia of individual active-duty members of Russia’s armed or security forces.

    • “russophobes” you really need to get an education.

      Try reading this:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sukhumi_Massacre

      Abkhaz separatists only won because of massive support from the Russian military.

  33. to Karma

    “Oh, and how would you get Turkmen gas to Iraq without going through Iran?

    Geography matters.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nabucco_Gas_Pipeline-en.svg

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:LocationTurkmenistan.svg

    No problem. Connect Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan via sea.

    Geography really matters!

  34. “Don’t forget all the Russian troops that raped and murdered in Abkhazia”

    So, that was a fat lie, wasn’t it. No evidence of “rape” in Abkhazia provided.

    BTW, had anybody posted something in defence of Russia that were one tenth as long as Andrew’s russophobic one-sided ramblings here, he would be immediately banned by LR forever.

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

    By the way, you’re lying. We’ve frequently cut down Andrew’s comments and, unlike other reptilian fungus who comment on this blog, he apologizes when he goes too far.

    • Try reading the HRW & UN reports bender boy.
      There is plenty of evidence in them about rape by Russian “volunteers” in Abkhazia.

      But of course I imagine their reports are not good enough for filth like you.

  35. ‘Try reading the HRW & UN reports bender boy.”

    OK.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6049872.stm.

    Oct 13, 2006

    UN urges Georgia not to ‘provoke’

    Georgian troops entered the Kodori Gorge in July

    The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution urging Georgia to refrain from provocative action in the breakaway region of Abkhazia.

    • So what bender boy?

      Did you actually read the HRW report accessable through the link?

      Your link has nothing to do with the rapes, murders, and ethnic cleansing comitted by fascist Russia in the Abkhazian & South Ossetian provinces of Georgia (where Georgians have lived for longer than RuSSia has existed I might add)

      The Georgian government took control of Khodori gorge from the pro Georgian militia that had controlled it since the end of the war.

      They did this with the support of the local population (Svan ethnic Georgians) in order to bring rule of law to the valley.

      Of course the Russians and Abkhaz being somewhat culturally averse to the rule of law immediately whined away as you always do.

      In August 2008, Russian and Abkhazian scum, I mean soldiers, sorry right first time, swept into Khodori raping, looting, murdering, and forced the surviving population of Khodori to flee.

      Russia vetoes the UNOMIG and OSCE observer missions which were vital to the continued peace and protection of the 95% of the population of the Gali district that are ethnic Georgians living under RuSSian/Abkhazian oppression, where they are forbidden from teaching their children in their native language at school etc, where they are nowsubject to the constant depredations of Abkhaz militia stealing from their homes, fields, and orchards, and where ethnic Georgians are frequently murdered by the Abkhaz militia without the oversight of UNOMIG to prevent/document these crimes.

      Russia is an imperialist state that wants to absorb Georgia piece by piece just as it did in the early 19th century.

  36. “By the way, you’re lying. We’ve frequently cut down Andrew’s comments”

    But when anybody posts something pro-Russian or pro-Sharapova that you don’t like – you don’t “cut down their comments”. You just remove their posts and ban them.

    “…and, unlike other reptilian fungus who comment on this blog, he apologizes when he goes too far.”

    How do you know that the authors of long or multiple pro-Russian posts wouldn’t apologise? You quickly ban them from posting, so they are banned even from apologizing.

  37. The best commentary about the Russo-Ukrainian gas conflict was written by the President of the Nixon Center :

    http://www.nationalinterest.org/Article.aspx?id=20580

    The divided and dysfunctional government in Kiev acted in a truly delusional fashion, assuming that it could pursue a hostile policy toward Russia, and still expect to get Russian gas at a heavily subsidized rate. During the first gas conflict with Ukraine in 2006, the Kremlin made abundantly clear that it was not prepared to accept any such arrangement. Yet President Viktor Yushchenko not only insisted on bringing Ukraine into NATO as soon as possible, but sided fully with Georgia during its August war with Russia. Moreover, as a commission of the Ukrainian parliament, the Rada, has established, Yushchenko repeatedly authorized secret Ukrainian military assistance to the Georgian army. The Russian government claims that most Russian combat aircraft destroyed in the conflict were hit by Ukrainian-made anti-aircraft missiles, crewed by Ukrainian advisers. The Ukrainian government is entitled to determine its own foreign policy, but would be reckless to assume that Russia would provide multibillion dollar subsidies to an adversary.

    … the Bush administration and some Europeans, particularly in the so-called New Europe, encouraged Kiev’s belligerence vis-à-vis Moscow for years without thinking of the consequences. This blind support of Russia’s neighbors against Russia contributed to Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili’s disastrous decision to use force in South Ossetia, and it similarly contributed to President Yushchenko’s miscalculation in the gas dispute with Moscow.

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