Once upon a time, Russian imperialism and aggression were motivated by the frenzied desire for warm-water ports. Now, according to Vladimir Socor of the Jamestown Foundation, they are motivated by the desire to control gas pipelines. From the Eurasia Daily Monitor:
Russia and some circles in Germany are reactivating the idea of a consortium to control Ukraine’s gas transit system. Moscow hopes to profit from the crisis atmosphere it has itself created since January 1 by stopping gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine. Blaming Ukraine in oft-inflammatory language for the stoppage, Russia is seeking to persuade Germany and the rest of Europe that Ukraine is unqualified to handle the transit of Russian gas supplies.
Moscow’s thesis, if accepted, would lead to two possible corollaries. One would be international backing for circumventing Ukraine with Gazprom’s pipeline projects, such as Nord Stream and South Stream, which Gazprom lacks the means to build. The other would be international acceptance of transferring control over Ukraine’s transit system from an “unreliable” Ukrainian government to a “reliable” Gazprom, under the mantle of an international consortium.
Continue reading →
Get lost, Russians!
Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has called for Ukraine to eject Russia’s Black Sea fleet from its base in Sevastopol when its current lease runs out in 2017, embracing the policy of Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko.
Tymoshenko, who could be Yushchenko’s successor, declared: “We need to maintain this agreement until 2017 and then we need to make Ukraine a zone free of any military bases.”
Only 30% of Sevastopol residents favor union with Russia, and regardless of what they want Russia itself has formally and repeatedly agreed that Crimea is permanently part of Ukraine. Russians, however, couldn’t care less about that, and are already making noises about refusing to leave regardless of the desires of the Ukrainian people or their government. Ukraine, of course, is counterbalancing those threats by moving rapidly to join NATO and the EU.
The loss of Russia’s Black Sea base in Ukraine is yet another consequences of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s catastrophic failure to maintain good relations with Georgia, culminating in his barbaric use of military force. If the people of Russia do not move to hold him accountable for his failure, there will only be more dire consequences for Russian interests abroad.