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Economic Brief: The Uneasy Russia-E.U. Energy Relationship
Power and Interest News Report (PINR)
…Europe’s reliance on Russia for 50 percent of natural gas imports — half of which comes from Gazprom — and 25 percent of its oil imports have sparked disunity among E.U. states. Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s ambassador to the European Union, said this of the matter: “We warned our partners in the European Union of the possible difficulties they might face after expansion, two years ago. We wish our partners the best of luck in resolving their internal problems.”
Yet, Russia’s role as a key energy supplier to Europe does not necessarily equate to political clout. Since gas and oil propel the Russian economy forward, Moscow also depends on Europe for the resultant revenue. This increasing state of interdependence will ultimately compel Poland to reverse its stance and approve the E.U.-Russia agreement.
Recent rumors of a Russian-led gas cartel akin to O.P.E.C. and suggestions that it could redirect energy exports to China are driving Europe’s fears that Moscow will seize its role as a major energy supplier to take hostile actions against Europe. As Russia possesses over a quarter of the world’s gas reserves, and the European Union predicts that it will have to import 70 percent of its energy needs by 2030, Brussels will continue to search for alternatives to Russian energy in the long term while at the same time seek stable trade relations with Moscow.
(17 Nov 2006)
Video: Sakhalin’s Black Tears (17 minutes)
Klara Schirova, Google Video
With support from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the oil consortium plans to expand the drilling and build two pipelines in one of the most seismic regions in the world. Mitsui, Mitsubishi and Shell’s development will affect the world’s last 100 or so Western Pacific grey whales. It will destroy the key salmon fishing area off the island by dumping one million tons of waste into the sea and threaten the livelihood of tens of thousands of fishermen. Furthermore the Sakhalinians have to live with a permanent threat that a large oil spill will destroy their environment. The future of Sakhalin lies in the hands of the international financial institutions and multinational companies.
(10 Nov 2006)
A short glimpse into Sakhalin. A low bandwidth version is available here. See also this related website: www.sakhalin.environment.ru/en/
Head of Russian Oil Fund Shot Dead in Moscow
The head of a Russian fund that says it promotes the development of small oil and gas producers was shot dead on Tuesday in southwest Moscow, the Reuters news agency reports.
Zelimkhan Magomedov, 50, general director of the National Oil Institute Fund, was shot twice in the head.
…Killings of high-ranking officials and public figures, reminiscent of Russia’s wild capitalism of the 1990s, have again become a grim reality in the past few months.
(14 Nov 2006)
Cracks in the Power Vertical
Paul Abelsky, Russia Profile
Recent Assassinations Shake Confidence in Putin’s System
A succession of brazen high-profile assassinations in Russia in recent months has shaken up public opinion both inside the country and abroad. The string of murders on the eve of the 2007-2008 electoral season raised questions about the much-vaunted stability of Russia’s political and social order under President Vladimir Putin, as well as the system’s capacity to mediate conflicts in a non-violent way.
…“The 1990s were a time of criminal anarchy and struggle for power,” said Yevgeny Ikhlov, head of the Information and Analytical Department of the Moscow-based group For Human Rights. “Now the menace stems from the law-enforcement organs themselves, or at least their former members. While the endemic criminality in years past was indicative of the breakdown of the legal system, now these people find themselves constrained by the law and feel entitled to rise above it if necessary.”