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Russia gets tough on energy sales to Europe
No foreign access to pipelines, official says
Judy Dempsey, International Herald Tribune
BERLIN: In a new signal that Russia has toughened its position on energy sales to Europe, an adviser to President Vladimir Putin said Moscow had no intention of observing guidelines in the EU’s energy charter that would allow non-Russian companies access to the country’s vast pipeline network.
“We will not ratify the energy charter,” the adviser, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, Putin’s special envoy to the European Union, told a small group of reporters Monday night. “It would be damaging for Russia if we ratified it.”
Energy analysts said Putin was determined to prevent any kind of third- party access to the pipelines because it would lead to competition.
(12 Dec 2006)
U.S. senator urges use of NATO defense clause for energy
Judy Dempsey, International Herald Tribune via Global Research
In what could lead to a radical re-examination of NATO’s defense doctrine, a leading U.S. senator has called on the alliance to come to the aid of any member whose energy sources are threatened by using the organization’s Article 5 mutual defense clause.
Senator Richard Lugar, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told a gathering of security experts here that any NATO member whose energy sources are cut off by force should be able to rely on assistance from the alliance.
The proposal has received a cautious welcome from the countries of Eastern Europe, which are the most vulnerable to energy shortages because of their heavy dependence on Russia.
(28 Nov 2006)
All the President’s men: The KGB’S great power-grab
Anne Penketh, The Independent
When Vladimir Putin, a former colonel in the KGB, wanted to secure control of Russia, he knew where to turn for help. Anne Penketh reports from Moscow on how former agents with the secret police found their way into powerful positions
…The President has made no secret of his plan to bring Russia’s strategic industries under state control, as witnessed by the dramatic fall from grace of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the owner of Russia’s biggest oil company, Yukos. Less well-known, however, are the KGB connections of the men appointed to powerful positions in at least three of the top state-run companies where relations with the Kremlin are already tightly intertwined.
(11 Dec 2006)
$20bn gas project seized by Russia
Terry Macalister, The Guardian
Shell is being forced by the Russian government to hand over its controlling stake in the world’s biggest liquefied gas project, provoking fresh fears about the Kremlin’s willingness to use the country’s growing strength in natural resources as a political weapon.
After months of relentless pressure from Moscow, the Anglo-Dutch company has to cut its stake in the $20bn Sakhalin-2 scheme in the far east of Russia in favour of the state-owned energy group Gazprom.
The Russian authorities are also threatening BP over alleged environmental violations on a Siberian field in what is seen as a wider attempt to seize back assets handed over to foreign companies when energy prices were low.
The moves will alarm many investors in the City of London as Shell and other share prices are hit, but the news will also increase ministers’ concerns about Britain’s energy security.
(11 Dec 2006)
Related: FACTBOX-Russia’s Sakhalin oil, gas projects