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Geopolitics - Aug 26

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Ukraine Won’t Siphon Off Russian Gas This Winter - Prime Minister

MosNews
Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich has promised on Tuesday, Aug. 22, that this winter his country won’t siphon off the Russian natural gas bound for Europe. Ukraine remains the main transit route for Russian gas exported to Central and Western Europe. Yanukovich’s pledge is meant to reassure Western Europe that Ukraine is a reliable country.

As MosNews has reported at the beginning of 2006, many European countries suffered significant reductions in January amid a bitter price dispute between Moscow and Kiev. When Russia temporarily cut supplies to Ukraine it accused its neighbor of siphoning off Europe-bound gas.

European customers initially put much of the blame on Russia for reducing the amount of gas going into the pipelines, but began complaining of Ukrainian siphoning later in January when a second shortage occurred amid a severe cold snap.

Yanukovych said Tuesday that Ukraine was preparing for winter, pumping in 130 million cubic meters of gas into storage tanks every 24 hours so it would have enough of its own reserves. “I am saying this so Europe can hear and they can feel at ease,” Yanukovych said, quoted by Associated Press. “We won’t take European gas from the pipes this winter. That gas we are pumping into storage will be enough for us.”
(23 Aug 2006)


Energy focus for Chavez in China

BBC
Discussions over energy co-operation are set to dominate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's visit to China, which began on Tuesday.

Oil producer Venezuela wants to reduce its reliance on the US, the destination for most of its oil exports despite the two countries' ideological differences.

China, in need of oil supplies to maintain its rapid economic growth, offers a lucrative alternative market.

Mr Chavez will meet counterpart Hu Jintao during the six-day trip.
(22 Aug 2006)


Russia spins global energy spider's web

W Joseph Stroupe, Asia Times
The vast bulk of the world's oil, gas and strategic minerals resources either is coming under or is already under the control of authoritarian, or less-than-democratic, or leftist, or otherwise radical regimes either with a decidedly anti-Western political stance and ideology or pointedly decreased sensitivities to strategic US interests.

It is difficult to name more than a handful of resource-rich states that are liberal democracies and that are still significantly aligned with the West. Only Canada and Mexico come immediately to mind, and even Canada is increasingly embracing China and the East in the sphere of strategic energy deals and agreements.

Even those resource-rich regimes that are considered to be the most moderate of the globe's producing states are far less closely aligned geopolitically with the US than they were previously.

Saudi Arabia, for example, continues its "Look East" policy of diversifying its markets away from the US. It has concluded a range of important deals in the energy sector with China and India and is steadily moving into closer geopolitical alignment with the rising East.

A number of other key Middle Eastern regimes are following suit. By and large Latin America is doing the same, as are Africa and Central Asia. Almost none of the world's oil and gas producers wants to be inordinately dependent on the US market any longer. Additionally, the steady rise of the powerful economies of Asia beckons oil and gas producers toward such lucrative markets that are politically cost-free, meaning they do not attach political demands and seek to interfere in the domestic affairs of the producing regimes, as does the US.

In virtually all cases, the interests of the West and of its multinational oil companies and big Western financial institutions are being minimized and/or pushed out as the global trend of nationalization, by one means or another, of the oil-and-gas sector picks up speed.
(23 Aug 2006)
W. Joseph Stroupe is editor of Global Events Magazine online at www.GeoStrategyMap.com. He has authored a new book on the implications of ongoing energy geopolitics entitled, RUSSIAN RUBICION - Impending Checkmate of the West. The new book is available at Global Events Magazine online.


Moscow making Central Asia its own

M K Bhadrakumar, Asia Times
When President Vladimir Putin in his State of the Union speech last year called the collapse of the Soviet Union "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century", cold warriors on both sides of the Atlantic pounced on the statement as fresh evidence of Russia's imperial ambitions.

Very few were prepared to accept Putin's statement at face value - a powerful articulation of an incontrovertible fact from the Russian point of view. The fact remains that half a million Soviet citizens perished during the painful transition, and 50 million people were displaced. Last week, on the anniversary of the August 19 coup that led to the disbandment of the Soviet Union, public opinion in Russia looked back at the events 15 years ago as a crude power struggle devoid of any high principles...

It is no mere coincidence that Putin chose last week for hosting an "informal" summit at the Russian leader's summer residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, heralding a qualitatively new stage in the integration processes at work in the post-Soviet space. Of course, the participants - the leaders of the six-member Eurasian Economic Community (EEC) comprising Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan as well as of Armenia and Ukraine attending as "observers" - clearly realized that the Soviet Union lay buried in the heap of history and was irretrievable.

Equally, they sensed that a chapter of post-Soviet history was quietly closing and a new one commencing. None in Sochi was talking about any revival of the Soviet Union, but to quote a Russian political observer, those present at the Black Sea resort also couldn't overlook anymore that "it's not easy to go it alone, and it's worth remembering the past"....

Eyes on the energy market
However, it is the common energy market in Central Asia taking shape within the ambit of the EEC that will alter the region's geopolitics in the immediate term. The EEC summit deliberated on the formation of a hydropower consortium, which is crucial for Central Asia...

The EEC summit's energy initiative, especially the decision on forming a hydropower consortium, will no doubt be seen in Washington as aimed at frustrating the "Great Central Asia" strategy. Actually, it may be an accurate reading of the emerging equations. The EEC decision, if it carries momentum, ensures a watery grave for the desperate US attempts to make a forceful comeback in the geopolitics of Central Asia.
(25 Aug 2006)

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