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Russia - Aug 30

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Russia says will ensure oil flows to Europe

Denis Dyomkin and Tanya Mosolova, Reuters
Russian officials promised on Thursday they would not cut oil flows to Europe in response to threatened sanctions, a step Moscow has never yet taken even in the worst moments between Russia and the West.

Britain's Daily Telegraph had earlier reported that the Russian government had told at least one oil company to prepare to cut deliveries to Europe if sanctions were imposed.

As Europe prepared its response to Russia's invasion of neighbouring Georgia, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, the chairman of Russia's largest oil company Rosneft, called the suggestion of possible cuts a "crude provocation".
(29 August 2008)

Punishing Russia could prove costly

Mikhail Molchanov, Asia Times
... Rather than seeing Russia's actions as dictated by considerations of humanity, or, at the very minimum, sheer political realism (can anyone in their right mind believe that fiercely proud North Caucasian nations would voluntarily accept the rule by those who deny their very right of existence as separate ethnicities?), the Western press is chanting cold war.

Moscow's position is, if friendship with the West can only be bought by standing idly by and ignoring desperate pleas for help from a kindred, ethically affiliated nation, Russia cannot afford such a friendship. Cold war or not, the time of a politically correct, US-style Russia is now over.

Instead, it is the time of a Russia that has restored the dignity of its elected government offices; a Russia that owes nothing to the world financial institutions, and itself holds near US$100 billion in US agencies' debt; and a Russia that supplies one-third of Europe's total gas. This is a country whose army is, once again, capable of procuring world-class armaments and training soldiers in their proper use.

This Russia is prepared to beef up its military collaboration with China, ensuring comprehensive modernization of the Asian giant's forces. This new Russia has re-established its diplomatic and economic presence world-wide, has friends and partners in both hemispheres, and is capable of influencing geopolitical situations in the areas much further distanced than the neighboring Caucasus.

Attempting to punish this new Russia, one way or another, may be a rather costly adventure. Is the West prepared to bear those costs - just to show Russia "who is the boss here", while denying two smaller nations that very same right of self-determination that Georgians now enjoy?

Mikhail A Molchanov is a professor of political science at St Thomas University, Canada. He has published several books and articles on Russia's post-communist transition and foreign policy, Russian-Ukrainian relations and international problems of Eurasia.
(29 August 2008)

Russia is fighting a new Cold War with banks and pipelines, not tanks and warplanes

Edward Lucas, Telegraph (UK)
... Decoding the Kremlin’s precise intentions is as tricky now as it was in the days of Kremlinology - a discipline as archaic as Morse code. But the outlines are clear.

Russia wants to recreate a “lite” version of the Soviet empire in eastern Europe and to neutralise the rest of the continent. Unlike the old Cold War, military action is a last resort: for the most part, it is banks and pipelines, not tanks and warplanes, that are doing the dirty work.

This may sound strange, given what has happened in Georgia. But it is vital to realise that this was not the beginning of a new Russian push, but part of something that began in the mid-1990s.
(29 August 2008)
Jersey Geoff points out:
Russia is now the 3rd largest holder of US dollars- $580 billion has flowed to Russia as energy costs have risen.

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