Posts Tagged ‘Gas Pipelines’

Putin’s energy strategy for isolating Ukraine

July 6, 2015

Hat tip to Vineyard of the Saker.

Gazprom North StreamPresident Putin has made an agreement with Germany, and offered an agreement to Turkey, that will enable Russia to serve its natural gas markets in western Europe while retaining the option to shut off Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states.

The Russian government plans to expand its North Stream pipeline across the Baltic Sea directly to Germany.   This would enable Russia to cut off natural gas to Ukraine and most of the rest of eastern Europe without interrupting its sales to western Europe.

Germany, which is now the financial hub of western Europe, would become the energy hub as well.

black_sea_turkey_south_streamRussia has an alternate plan, the South Stream, a pipeline to cross the Black Sea to Bulgaria, but this has been canceled.  Instead Russia now hopes to build a Turkish Stream, which would connect directly with European Turkey.  Greece and other European countries would have the option of connecting to that pipeline.

The Turkish government also has the ambition of becoming an energy hub.  It is in a good position to do this because of its position as the crossroads between Europe and the Greater Middle East.  But, for political reasons, Turkey might have to give up plans for other pipelines to connect to Iran, Iraq and Azerbaijan if goes along with Russia’s Turkish Stream.

Not everything that is announced gets built, and in any case construction of these pipelines would take several years.   But Putin’s strategy could put Russia in a powerful position in regard to Ukraine and NATO’s eastern flank, and without firing a shot.

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Russia turning down the gas on Europe

January 15, 2015

gas_to_eu_final_3

Russia cut natural gas shipments to Europe by 60 percent, and announced plans to eventually cut off shipments through Ukraine altogether.

The Urkainian route will be replaced with a new pipeline through Turkey, which will take a couple of years to build.  The European Union will need to build its own infrastructure to take the gas from the Greek border to the rest of Europe.

If the Europeans don’t get their new pipelines built in time, Russia will send its gas elsewhere, the head of Gazprom said.  Russia is working on gas deals not only with China, but with India.

Vladimir Putin is not a helpless victim of economic sanctions and falling oil prices.  He is willing and able to use Russia’s economic power to damage Ukraine and the European nations.

Nobody benefits from this cycle of tit-for-tat retaliation.  It’s an economic form of mutually assured destruction.

Russia Fires Ukraine as Natural Gas Transit for Europe by Michael Collins for Op-Ed News [added 1/16/2015]

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The interdependence of Russia and Europe

July 28, 2014

Europe Russia oil gas pipelines map chart

More Signs of Doubt in Europe About the Costs of Siding With Ukraine by Yves Smith for Naked Capitalism.

The Beginning of an End of the Trans-Atlantic Alliance by Mark from Ireland for Ian Welsh.

Hat tip for the map to Vox.

Russia’s stake in Ukraine

February 22, 2014

3 Gas pipelines west

gaspipelines.russia.europe

I try to resist the American tendency to choose sides in foreign conflicts I don’t understand.   But I can’t help but sympathize with Ukrainians who want their country to be free of Russian influence.

I know the history of how Joseph Stalin killed millions of Ukrainians, including targeted killings and deportations of prosperous farmers (kulaks) and an intentional famine to force Ukrainians into government-controlled collective farms.  I remember the happiness of my Ukrainian-American acquaintances in Rochester, NY, when the Soviet Union broke up and Ukraine became a sovereign nation.

But the maps above show why the Russian government would not tolerate a hostile Ukraine.   Russia cannot compete as an industrial nation with the advanced economies of Europe, North America and the Far East.   Its economy is dependent on exports of oil and gas from Siberia and Central Asia.  The maps show how many of Russia’s vital gas pipelines to Russia go through Ukraine.

I believe that, as a general rule with very few exceptions, the United States government should not interfere in the internal conflicts of foreign nations.  I think interference in the Ukrainian conflict would be especially unwise because it would be a challenge to the vital interests of the only country in the world that, because of its nuclear arsenal, has the capability of destroying the United States.

My father always used to say that you should never start a fight you weren’t prepared to finish.  There’s something worse than that, which is to encourage others to start fights they can’t finish in the false expectation that you will help them.  I remember how in 1956 the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe encouraged the Hungarians to rise up against their Soviet occupiers (I was in basic training in the U.S. Army at the time) when the U.S. government had no intention of coming to their aid and risking a nuclear confrontation with the USSR.

I thought then that it was shameful to give the Hungarian Freedom Fighters the false hope that Americans would come to their aid.  I think it would be equally shameful to give the same false hope to any of the Ukrainian factions.

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I think blog posts by Rod Dreher and Daniel Larison of The American Conservative (both of them Eastern Orthodox Christians, by the way) show good sense.  Dreher is noteworthy, too, for the excellent comment threads on his posts.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/ukraine-dying-in-vain-freedom/

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/the-dangerous-desire-to-take-sides-in-other-nations-conflicts/