Showing posts with label CIS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CIS. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

WaPo Editorial On Nabucco and Russia's "campaign to turn its neighbors into satellites, using blunt instruments such as military force"

A Well-Placed Pipeline. WaPo Editorial
How Russia's 19th-century policies produced some 21st-century cooperation
Tuesday, July 14, 2009

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S appeal to Russia last week that it move beyond a "19th-century" foreign policy appears to have had little impact on President Dmitry Medvedev. Yesterday found Mr. Medvedev in Tskhinvali, the capital of the Georgian province of South Ossetia, which Russia invaded last August and then unilaterally recognized as an independent state. Coming just six days after Mr. Obama left Moscow, the message of Mr. Medvedev's provocative visit was unmistakable: Russia has no intention of abandoning its campaign to turn its neighbors into satellites, using blunt instruments such as military force and its control of energy supplies.

That's why it was encouraging that yesterday also brought a multinational meeting in Ankara at which Turkey and four European countries formally agreed to route a new natural gas pipeline across their territories. The Nabucco project would carry gas from the Caspian Sea region and the Middle East to Europe through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria -- thereby providing a path for European energy supplies not controlled by Russia. Though energy pipelines are not usually the subject of international politics and high diplomacy, Moscow has made them so. Twice in the past four years, it has turned off a pipeline that supplies countries across Europe in an attempt to undermine the democratic government of Ukraine, which, like Georgia, has refused to become a Kremlin vassal.

The midwinter blackmail, personally overseen by Mr. Medvedev's mentor, Vladimir Putin, has had the effect of vitalizing a project that once looked like little more than a pipe dream. Nabucco, which will extend 2,000 miles and cost more than $10 billion to construct, was championed tirelessly by the Bush administration. But the countries that would most benefit from it, such as Hungary and Austria, were more interested in negotiating new pipeline routes with Russia until recently. Now they appear to recognize that diversifying their sources of gas is essential to their national security -- and also to promoting a Russia that will not seek to use its natural resources as a means to rebuild the Soviet empire.

The new pipeline is hardly a panacea. At best it will supply about 10 percent of Europe's gas consumption, sometime after 2014. The product to fill it still needs to be found: Though Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iraq, Syria and Egypt have all expressed interest in selling gas through Nabucco, none has committed to doing so. Still, yesterday's signing was an important step toward a more secure Europe; it is a lot more likely to produce results than Mr. Medvedev's lonely trip to Tskhinvali.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Retro agenda: Arms control and arm-chair Kremlinology

Obama and Putin's Russia. WSJ Editorial
Retro agenda: Arms control and arm-chair Kremlinology.
The Wall Street Journal, Jul 06, 2009, p A12

An American President lands in Moscow today to negotiate an arms control treaty. Befitting that retro theme, thousands of Russian troops are in the midst of the biggest war games in the south Caucasus since the end of the Cold War, menacing the small, independent nation of Georgia.

President Obama's two days in Moscow are supposed to foster, in an adviser's words, "a more substantive relationship with Russia" -- the substance being Iran's atomic ambitions, the war in Afghanistan and a replacement for the soon-to-expire Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. You know, the stuff of a quasi-superpower partnership. But Russia hardly looks super, or inclined to forge a partnership, except on its own terms.

Instead, Supreme Leader Vladimir Putin wants to settle old scores and establish what he calls "a zone of privileged interest." He must appreciate Mr. Obama's eagerness to change the subject from Russian belligerence to nuclear weapons, which plays up Russia's remaining claim to superpower status. How that serves America's interests isn't clear.

As in the weeks before Russia invaded Georgia in August, tensions are again on the rise. At least 8,500 Russian troops are involved in exercises around Abkhazia and South Ossetia, breakaway Georgian regions recognized as independent solely by Russia and Nicaragua. Last month, Moscow vetoed the renewal of U.N. and European observer missions in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Both had been there since the early 1990s. President Mikheil Saakashvili, a young Columbia-trained lawyer who turned Georgia westward, remains an irritant for Russia. A pro-Kremlin regime in Georgia would give Moscow control over the energy routes through the Caucasus and influence independent-minded Azerbaijan and Armenia.

While Russia has failed even to comply with the terms of the truce, the U.S. and its allies are acting as if that war never happened. At this summit, Mr. Obama is to announce the restoration of bilateral military relations with Russia suspended by the Bush Administration. The NATO-Russian Council is also back in business. Meanwhile, Mr. Obama has put on hold plans by Poland and the Czech Republic to allow the U.S. to deploy American missile defenses on their soil. In a letter to Kremlin frontman Dmitry Medvedev earlier this year, Mr. Obama floated the idea of trashing those deals if Russia can prod Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions.

U.S. officials say they've ruled out quid pro quos on missile defense or Ukraine and Georgia's future. Nonetheless, Russian officials are all too happy to consider grand bargains. All start with America abandoning any future NATO expansion. In pre-summit interviews, Mr. Obama also skipped over such touchy Kremlin subjects as human rights and its designs on neighboring states. "The main thing that I want to communicate to the Russian leadership and the Russian people is America's respect for Russia," he told Russian media, noting that "it remains one of the most powerful countries in the world." Someone keeps telling American Presidents to stroke the bear's fragile ego above all else. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also pursued this strategy, to little good effect.

Here's an idea. Set aside the dime-store national psychoanalysis and return to first American principles and interests. This summit rests on a fiction: That Russia is an equal power to the U.S. that can offer something concrete in return for American indulgence. Some Russians see through the pretense. "Let's be frank: There's not a single serious global issue where the United States is dependent on Russia today," the pro-Kremlin political analyst, Gleb Pavlovsky, wrote in Nezavisimaya Gazeta last week. Russia's decision to let the U.S. resupply its Afghan troops over Russian airspace is a goodwill gesture, but it was only offered after Russia failed to stop resupply via Kyrgyzstan.

From the moment Communism collapsed, America's overriding national interest in Europe and Eurasia has been to extend prosperity and freedom. In short, to offer formerly captive nations a choice to join the West. This can be done in part through membership in NATO, the EU or the World Trade Organization. The "West" is an idea as well as a place, a voluntary and open association. Successive U.S. Presidents, when push came to shove, have defended the right to make this choice freely and ignored Russian caterwauls.

The choice to join the free world is open to Russia, too. Mr. Putin is the one who has taken that option off the table -- most recently by pulling Russia's application to join the WTO. In the Putin decade, nationalism, corruption and cronyism have flourished while Russia has missed another chance to modernize. That's not America's fault.

Any U.S. administration will have plenty of business to carry out with Russia. But an American President in Moscow needs to keep his eyes on the bigger prize in Russia and the region. And that prize is an expansion of freedom, not a new START treaty.

The President's Mission to Moscow

The President's Mission to Moscow. By DAVID SATTER
Obama doesn't need to engage Russia's leaders. He needs to deter them.
The Wall Street Journal, Jul 06, 2009, p A13


President Barack Obama arrives here today facing a dilemma of his own making. Having called for a "reset" in U.S.-Russian relations, the U.S. side is virtually obliged to make some new overtures. But Russia does not need to be engaged. It needs to be deterred.

The expectations that Mr. Obama has inspired are substantial. Both officials and ordinary citizens in Russia interpret the call for a reset as an admission of U.S. guilt for ignoring Russia's interests. Sergei Rybakov, the Russian deputy foreign minister, said that mutual trust was "lacking over the last several years." It was the task of the U.S. to show its good intentions with "concrete actions" because in Russia, the U.S. is "deeply distrusted."

Accepting the Russian view of reality on the issues that divide the U.S. and Russia, however, would be a grave mistake. Russia aspires to resurrect a version of the Soviet Union in which it projects power and dominates its neighbors. To encourage its ambitions in any way would be to undermine not only U.S. security but, in the long run, the security of Russia as well.

There are three important areas of conflict between the U.S. and Russia: NATO expansion, the U.S. missile shield in Eastern Europe and the Russian human rights situation. In each case, any reset should be on the Russian side.

The most urgent issue may be NATO expansion. There are serious indications that Russia is preparing for a second invasion of Georgia. The first Georgian war was accompanied by a burst of patriotism in Russia but didn't achieve its strategic objectives. Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili remains in power and Georgia remains a supply corridor to the West for energy from Central Asia and the Caspian Sea. Many Russian leaders want to finish the job. At a televised forum in December, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was asked about press reports that he had told French president Nicolas Sarkozy that Mr. Saakashvili should be "hung by his ba**s." He replied, "Why only by one part?"

Under these circumstances, the best protection for Georgia is NATO membership. According to Pavel Felgenhauer, a defense analyst with Novaya Gazeta, the decision to invade Georgia last August came in April after NATO failed to offer outright a Membership Action Plan to Georgia and Ukraine at its annual summit in Bucharest.

Russia will argue strenuously that Georgia, Ukraine and the other former Soviet republics are part of its sphere of "privileged interests." This is an issue on which Mr. Obama cannot give way. If the former Soviet republics are denied NATO membership at Russia's behest, they either will be turned into Russian satellites with manipulated elections and a controlled foreign policy or form a zone of instability along Russia's borders with unpredictable consequences for both Russia and the West.

Beside the issue of NATO expansion, Russia and the U.S. have a critical conflict over U.S. plans to install a missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland. Not only have U.S. experts argued that the anti-missile system is not aimed at Russia but Russia's military experts agree. Nonetheless, the system is described by Russian leaders as a threat and denunciations of the missile shield are a staple of the anti-Western programming on Russian state television.

According to Mikhail Delyagin, who served as an adviser to former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, the placement of rockets in Poland is unacceptable to Russia for emotional and symbolic reasons. "It shows that the U.S. is now the master in Eastern Europe," he said. Any decision to yield to Russian objections, however, would effectively divide NATO into countries that need Russian approval for deployments and those that do not. Even dubious Russian promises to help with Iran would not compensate for the damage done to the alliance by such a concession to Russian pretensions.

Finally, there is the conflict between Russia and the U.S. over human rights. The status of human rights is a universal concern but it also has strategic implications. A population that lacks democratic rights and is subject to constant anti-Western propaganda can easily be mobilized against the U.S.

By any measure, the state of human rights in Russia is unacceptable. Russia today lacks honest elections or a separation of powers. The regime allows a degree of freedom but the features of daily life include police torture, prisoner abuse, political control of the courts and, for democratic activists, the danger of being beaten or killed. The result is that fear has returned to Russia less than two decades after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The regime is also taking steps to curtail freedom of speech. Freedom of the press has long been restricted under Mr. Putin with censorship on state run television and pressure on newspapers through their owners, to exercise self censorship. Peaceful demonstrations have also been forcibly dispersed. In recent weeks, however, a bill has been introduced in the State Duma that would make it illegal to deny the role of the Soviet Union in the victory in World War II or the crimes of Hitler's cronies (but not the crimes of Stalin and his entourage). The punishment both for Russian citizens and for foreigners will be three to five years in prison.

In the run up to Mr. Obama's visit, Russian academics and self described realists in the U.S. have called for a "grand deal" in which the U.S. accedes to Russian demands in the former Soviet Union in return for Russian help on Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan. In the case of Iran, Russia, which has repeatedly thwarted tough United Nations resolutions on that country's nuclear energy program, is offering to assist in dealing with a problem that it helped to create.

Unfortunately such a deal, the only "reset" in which the Russians have shown any interest, would eliminate moral criteria from the U.S.-Russian relationship and deprive the U.S. of any basis for limiting Russia's demands in the future. Under those circumstances, Russia's appetite is likely to grow.

Mr. Obama may wish to improve the U.S.-Russia relationship but the problems in that relationship come not from our actions but from assumptions on the Russian side about the prerogatives of power that we cannot possibly accept. Instead of resetting relations, we may just have to content ourselves with resisting Russian pretensions until such time as the mentality that gives rise to them can be changed.

Mr. Satter is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a visiting scholar at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He is writing a book on the Russian attitude to the Soviet past.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The West must reaffirm its support for Georgia

Russia Is Back on the Warpath. By CATHY YOUNG
The West must reaffirm its support for Georgia.
The Wall Street Journal, Jul 02, 2009, p A11

With President Barack Obama's trip to Moscow on Monday, you might expect Russia to avoid stirring up any trouble. Yet the Russian media are now abuzz with speculation about a new war in Georgia, and some Western analysts are voicing similar concerns. The idea seems insane. Nonetheless, the risk is real.

One danger sign is persistent talk of so-called Georgian aggression against the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Russia recognized as independent states after the war last August. "Georgia is rattling its weapons . . . and has not given up on attempts to solve its territorial problems by any means," Gen. Nikolai Makarov, who commanded Russian troops in Georgia in 2008, told the Novosti news agency on June 17. Similar warnings have been aired repeatedly by the state-controlled media.

Independent Russian commentators, such as columnist Andrei Piontkovsky, note that this has the feel of a propaganda campaign to prepare the public for a second war. Most recently, Moscow has trotted out a Georgian defector, Lt. Alik D. Bzhania, who claims that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili "intends to restart the war."

Yet Russia is the one currently engaged in large-scale military exercises in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and adjacent regions. Russia has also kicked out international observers from the area. On June 15, Moscow vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution renewing the mandate of U.N. monitors in Abkhazia because it mentioned an earlier resolution affirming Georgia's territorial integrity. Negotiations to extend the mission of monitors for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have broken down thanks to Russian obstruction. Now, 225 European Union monitors are the only international presence on the disputed borders.

The expulsion of neutral observers seems odd if Russia is worried about Georgian aggression. But it makes sense if Russia is planning an attack.

What would the Kremlin gain? A crushing victory in Georgia would depose the hated Mr. Saakashvili, give Russia control of vital transit routes for additional energy resources that could weaken its hold on the European oil and gas markets, humiliate the U.S., and distract Russians from their economic woes. Mr. Piontkovsky also believes the war drive comes from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is anxious to reassert himself as supreme leader.

Still, the costs would be tremendous. Last year the Kremlin repaired some of the damage to its relations with Europe and the U.S. by portraying the invasion of Georgia as a response to a unique crisis, not part of an imperial strategy. Another war would cripple Russia's quest for respectability in the civilized world, including its vanity project of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

And after the patriotic fervor wears off, domestic discontent would likely follow. Moreover, Russia would almost certainly find itself mired in a long guerilla war. This would further destabilize a region where Russia's own provinces, Ingushetia and Dagestan, are plagued by violent turmoil.

Given all this, a war seems unlikely. What's more probable is that Russia will seek to destabilize Georgia without military action. This saber-rattling may be meant to boost Georgian opposition to Mr. Saakashvili.

Still, Moscow's actions are not always rational. If the pro-war faction believes that the Western response to an assault on Georgia would be weak and half-hearted, it could be emboldened. In a June 25 column on the Web site, Russian journalist Yulia Latynina writes that the probability of the war "depends solely on the Kremlin's capacity to convince itself that it can convince the world that the war is its enemies' fault."

That is why it's essential for the United States and the EU to respond now -- by increasing their non-military presence in Georgia, expressing a strong commitment to Georgian sovereignty, and reminding Russia of the consequences of aggression. Such a statement from President Obama in Moscow would go a long way toward preventing the possibility of another tragedy.

Ms. Young is a columnist for and the author of "Growing Up in Moscow" (Ticknor & Fields, 1989).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Group of Friends of the UN Secretary General on the UN Observer Mission in Georgia Resolution

Joint Statement by the Group of Friends of the UN Secretary General on the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia Resolution
Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of the Spokesman
US State Dept, Washington, DC, Tue, 16 Jun 2009 17:35:10 -0500

Following is the text of a Joint Statement by the Spokespersons of the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, and France as members of the Group of Friends of the UN Secretary General.

Begin Text:

We deeply regret Russia’s decision to veto a resolution on the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), which has resulted in the termination of the Security Council mandate for the Mission after 15 years of valuable service providing military transparency on the ground, promoting the human rights of the local population, and seeking to create conditions for the voluntary, safe, and dignified return of internally displaced persons and refugees. We note that Russia had twice accepted a reference to UNSCR 1808 since the August conflict, in resolutions 1839 and 1866. The closure of the UN mission, like that of the OSCE mission, is a setback to international efforts to resolve this conflict.

We call on all parties with forces on the ground to exercise the utmost restraint and to abide by the August 12 and September 8 ceasefire agreements. We call on all participants in the Geneva talks to commit themselves to continuing efforts to find a peaceful and political resolution to the conflict and to alleviate the plight of refugees and IDPs. We reaffirm our firm support for the European Union Monitoring Mission.

We also reiterate our strong support for Georgia's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.

PRN: 2009/602

Thursday, June 4, 2009

WaPo: Once again Russia amasses troops and stages provocations

Another Summer in Georgia. WaPo Editorial
Once again Russia amasses troops and stages provocations.
Thursday, June 4, 2009

A YEAR AGO, Russian military maneuvers and provocations of the former Soviet republic of Georgia caused a couple of astute observers to predict that Moscow was laying the groundwork for a military invasion of its democratic and pro-Western neighbor. The warnings were laughed off -- until Russian forces poured across Georgia's borders on the night of Aug. 7, routing the Georgian army and driving thousands of ethnic Georgians from two breakaway provinces. Ten months later, with another summer approaching, Russia is once again mounting provocations on the ground and in diplomatic forums; once again it has scheduled a large military training exercise for July in the region bordering Georgia.

Could Vladimir Putin be contemplating another military operation to finish off the Georgian government of Mikheil Saakashvili -- whom Mr. Putin once vowed to "hang by his balls"? Once again, the scenario is easy to dismiss: The Russian leadership, after all, is engaged in an effort to "reset" relations with the United States; it is seeking support in Europe for discussions on a new "security architecture." Another fight with Georgia could blow up both efforts.

Still, the facts are these: Russia, in open violation of the cease-fire deal Mr. Putin made with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, has never withdrawn its troops to pre-war positions. Instead it has reinforced its units in Georgia and has between 5,000 and 7,500 soldiers in the provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which Moscow now treats as independent states. There are frequent incidents in the border areas, and Russia recently refused to renew the mandate of an international observer mission that had been deployed in and around South Ossetia.

If hostilities were renewed, Georgia wouldn't have much chance to defend itself. Its defense minister says that the country has not been able to replace much of the equipment lost in the last war. The Obama administration, which is hoping to complete the outlines of a new strategic arms agreement with Russia by the time of a July summit meeting, hasn't supplied the Georgian government with the air defenses or anti-tank weapons it would need to resist another Russian assault.

Mr. Saakashvili's best defense, of course, remains political support from the United States, the European Union and NATO. So far, at least, White House rhetoric in support of Georgian independence has remained firm. The sometimes-impulsive Georgian leader has helped himself with his patient and tolerant management of opposition demonstrations that have disrupted Tbilisi for nearly two months; he needs to be as skillful in sidestepping provocations along the frontier, so as to avoid providing the Kremlin with an excuse for intervention. But a peaceful summer in Georgia will also require firmness from Mr. Obama: He must leave no doubt that another Russian advance in Georgia would be devastating for U.S.-Russian relations.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

US State Dept on Moldova: Aftermath of Protests

Moldova: Aftermath of Protests. By Robert Wood, Acting Department Spokesman
US State Dept, Thu, 16 Apr 2009 16:38:10 -0500

The United States is concerned about the situation in Moldova following the violence on April 7. Although order has been restored and subsequent demonstrations have been peaceful, we have received reports from civil society and international observers of mistreatment of those detained by Moldovan authorities. We are also troubled by reports that students and journalists have been intimidated by government officials. President Voronin’s announcement of an amnesty for many of those detained is an encouraging step toward reconciliation.

We urge the government to act in accordance with Moldovan law and its international obligations when dealing with the opposition, protesters, and the media. All parties need to conduct themselves responsibly. It is also important that the government reach out to opposition parties and address their concerns about the April 5 election in a cooperative and transparent manner. We stress that there is no excuse for violence, such as took place on April 7. The United States remains committed to working closely with Moldova and its people as the country continues down the path of European integration. Respect for the rule of law and human rights are key elements in our relationship.


PRN: 2009/340

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

U.S.-New Zealand Arrangement For Cooperation On Nonproliferation Assistance to Kazakhstan

U.S.-New Zealand Arrangement For Cooperation On Nonproliferation Assistance
Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of the Spokesman, US State Dept
Washington, DC, April 7, 2009

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully signed on April 7, 2009, an arrangement for cooperation on nonproliferation assistance. This arrangement supports collaborative work between the United States and New Zealand to secure nuclear and radioactive materials that could be used in a nuclear or radiological weapon and to detect and deter illicit trafficking in these materials by improving monitoring capabilities at priority border crossings, airports, and seaports.

Through this arrangement, New Zealand has pledged to provide NZ$685,000 (approximately US$350,000) to support the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration’s Second Line of Defense program in equipping Kazakhstan’s borders with radiation monitors and providing related infrastructure and training. This contribution builds on the success of a similar arrangement signed in May 2007, through which New Zealand contributed similar assistance to help secure Ukraine’s border.

This arrangement reflects the common conviction on the part of the Governments of the United States and New Zealand that nuclear smuggling is a global threat that requires a coordinated, global response. Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister McCully have agreed to sign this document today because of the high priority that the United States and New Zealand both place on nonproliferation cooperation.

This contribution results from the efforts of the U.S. Government’s Nuclear Smuggling Outreach Initiative (NSOI), a Department of State-led program that also involves the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration and several other U.S. agencies. NSOI engages nations most at risk of nuclear smuggling to jointly identify steps to improve their capabilities to combat that threat. NSOI then works with international donors to identify and coordinate funding to help the vulnerable countries address their needs. New Zealand is one of eleven partners that has joined the United States in supporting anti-nuclear smuggling projects through NSOI. For more information on the Nuclear Smuggling Outreach Initiative, go to

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Viktor Yushchenko: Consumers of Russian gas must show a united front

Fueling European Cooperation. By Viktor Yushchenko
Consumers of Russian gas must show a united front.
WSJ, Feb 17, 2009

For those of us who lived under the Soviet Union, there is a certain irony about energy supplies. We may have been in a Cold War with the West, but Soviet gas always flowed uninterrupted across the Iron Curtain. Nowadays, thankfully, the Soviet Union is no more -- and yet Russian gas has become a strategic weapon. Those of us who are net importers cannot help but wonder: Is Moscow saying that gas supplies will be a problem unless it can have its sphere of influence once again?

So long as those countries which rely on Russian gas are divided, we put ourselves in a dependent position. Since 2006, though, alarm bells on the gas issue have been largely ignored. Of course Russia deserves a fair price for the exploitation of its natural resources, but the relationship needs to be rebalanced. The politics need to be taken out of the equation and a more normal commercial relationship established.

Whether Moscow is motivated by political concerns or simply a desire to increase the return on its assets, it is in the interests of all importing countries to coordinate our response. Only by cooperating can we maximize our collective bargaining power and secure our individual national interests.

As significant net importers of energy, Ukraine and the European Union have a clear common interest. Energy security for Ukraine, a major transit country, is also the best guarantee of energy security for our European neighbors. The energy security of the wider European space is therefore indivisible.

A strong response to the challenge we face must have at least three elements: liberalization, diversification and conservation.

By 2030, the International Energy Agency predicts, European gas imports will double because Europe won't be able to supply its own energy needs. Much of the extra supply could come from Russia if the necessary investment is made in new production. But unless action is taken now, importers could be in a very vulnerable position.

Liberalizing its energy industry would be in Russia's own best interests. But it will probably resist appeals to do so until the European Union leads by example: encouraging network operators to invest in interconnectors to build the energy grid and pipeline networks of the future, thereby reducing the risk of one customer being played off against another. Energy independence will come through energy interdependence. We all need international trade in energy to be open, transparent and competitive.

The current economic crisis is causing considerable suffering for both households and businesses. This situation provides an added incentive to solve the problem that arises from all of us, Ukrainians as much as our European friends, being at the mercy of a self-interested monopolist.

Working together, we can secure our mutual interests -- and, in the long term, reduce unnecessary friction with Russia. A single, competitive gas market would help depoliticize the EU-Russia gas relationship, with major foreign-policy benefits for Europe. It would also improve the security of supply for all European gas consumers.

The European Energy Community is the obvious building block for this approach, but its scope needs to extend beyond market liberalization and include more proactive and practical forms of cooperation. For our part, Ukraine is determined to reform our gas sector to encourage investment, increase efficiency by upgrading the pipeline infrastructure to minimize energy loss in transmission, and create a modern EU-compatible energy sector. The EU can further those aims by helping transit countries like Ukraine to reduce reliance on Russian gas, and hence vulnerability to energy blackmail.

One way to reduce reliance on Russia, and an important part of the policy package for any country planning for the long term, is diversification. In Ukraine's case, for example, our untapped Black Sea gas reserves needed to be quantified and exploited with European cooperation. But putting all of our faith in gas is not the answer: The emphasis should be on cleaner technologies. All of us in the European neighborhood can learn from each other to increase the proportion of renewable sources in the energy mix. In other words, limiting global warming and improving our energy security can go hand in hand.

Short-term deals between Moscow and any country, including Ukraine, are no substitute for this kind of comprehensive energy security strategy. Some of the measures will take time to implement, and so it is essential that the Transit Protocol of the legally binding Energy Charter Treaty is concluded as soon as possible. Agreement and ratification would reassure investors in the pipeline network that transit would occur, and our European neighbors that gas will be delivered.

Action, not further debate, is needed. The EU in particular has the capacity to change the entire dynamic of energy relations across Eurasia. But first it must unite and lead.

Across Europe, the pace of energy reform needs to be increased. Equally, we all need to be more forthright in reacting to the use of energy as a tool of foreign policy. Ending divisions in the European house is the only way to assure energy security for our citizens and industries for the decades to come.

European solidarity can bring warm homes -- and warmer relations with Russia.

Mr. Yushchenko is president of Ukraine.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

State Dept on Russian Bases in Georgia

Russian Bases in Georgia, by Robert Wood, Acting Department Spokesman
US State Dept, Washington, DC, Fri, 06 Feb 2009 17:36:46 -0600

The United States regrets the Russian Federation’s expressed intention to establish bases in the territory of Georgia as contrary to the spirit and the letter of Russia’s existing commitments. These Russian plans include a naval base at the port of Ochamchire, army bases in the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions of Georgia, and the possible deployment of combat aircraft.

Under the August 12 and September 8 ceasefire agreements between Georgia and Russia, mediated by the French EU Presidency, Russia committed to return its forces to their pre-war numbers and locations in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This latest announced build-up of the Russian Federation’s military presence in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia without the consent of the Georgian Government would clearly violate that commitment. Implementation of these basing plans would also violate Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, to which Russia repeatedly committed itself in numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The U.S. urges Russia to respect Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and facilitate stability in the region through implementation of its commitments and participation in the Geneva Process.

PRN: 2009/110

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Russian Energy Supply Conflict: Domestic Resources Key To U.S. Energy Security

Russian Energy Supply Conflict: Further Evidence Domestic Resources Key To U.S. Energy Security
IER urges Congress to focus on America’s oil and natural gas resources in both energy and economic policies
Institute for Energy Research, Wednesday, January 7, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. —As the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee prepares to hold its first hearing on energy security tomorrow, Institute for Energy Research (IER) Senior Vice President for Policy Daniel Kish is reminding lawmakers that the answer to both our economic recovery and energy future lies in our nation’s vast domestic natural resources.

Russia’s sudden decision to shut off natural gas supply to neighboring Ukraine last week further reinforces the need to reduce U.S. reliance on unstable foreign regimes for oil and natural gas imports. As such, any effort by the 111th Congress to increase energy production at home would reduce America’s reliance on imported oil while simultaneously creating jobs, generating tax revenue, and providing a major boost to the national economy.
“With Congress beginning to map out an agenda to address our nation’s energy security, our lawmakers should consider the havoc wreaked last week by Russia’s abrupt decision to shut off the supply of natural gas to the Ukraine,” says Kish. “This rash action imperiled almost 20 percent of central Europe’s gas supplies — which must first pass through the Ukraine.

“As this overseas energy supply conflict illustrates, any plan to improve America’s energy security must involve reducing U.S. reliance on imports from unstable foreign regimes like Russia. While Europe may be forced to rely on Russia and other imported energy, the US has no excuse. North America is chock full of natural gas, conventional and unconventional oil and coal that can be cleanly converted to energy. With less than 4% of our governments’ lands leased for energy, Congress should be asking if we can afford to say ‘Nyet’ to domestic energy production. And that’s not the only reason Capitol Hill should act to expand access to our energy supplies here at home.

“Amid a faltering economy and rising unemployment rates, ‘job security’ has joined ‘energy security’ as one of many Americans’ top priorities.Fortunately, our domestic natural resources hold answers to the current recession too. Recent research shows that developing America’s oil and gas resources will create jobs, stimulate the economy, and generate massive revenues for taxpayers.

“Policies that encourage greater exploration and development of our nation’s vast energy resources will ensure that Americans are able to take control of their energy and financial future.”

Friday, January 2, 2009

US Sate Dept On Dispute Regarding Gas Delivery from Russia to Ukraine

Press Statement
Gordon K. Duguid, Acting Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC, January 1, 2009
Ukraine: Dispute Regarding Gas Delivery from Russia to Ukraine

We are concerned that Gazprom has cut off gas sold to Ukraine. The U.S. encourages Gazprom and Naftogaz to resume negotiations on an agreement that will maintain the reliability of gas delivery to Ukraine and Europe. We urge Russia and Ukraine to resolve their dispute over the gas debt and the terms of their natural gas supply arrangements in a transparent, commercial manner.

Released on January 1, 2009