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Not the good neighbor

The dispute between Russia and The Ukraine over gas has escalated.

Russia shut off all gas supplies to Europe through Ukraine on Wednesday -- leaving tens of thousands of people in more than a dozen countries without heat during a winter cold snap. The EU accused both nations of holding consumers hostage in their contract dispute.

The effects of the gas cutoff reverberated across the continent, where some countries have substantial reserves and others do not.

In the Balkans, people celebrated Orthodox Christmas in churches lit by candles and scrambled to find other sources of heat for their homes as authorities cut off some gas to conserve supplies.

Schools and kindergartens in Bulgaria closed down because utilities needed time to switch to alternative fuels. In Bosnia, where gas operator Sarajevogas said the situation was close to a humanitarian disaster, woodcutters revved up their chain saws to cut wood for fireplaces.

Romania, Bulgaria and other countries held national security meetings to address the issue, while Hungary and Slovakia, which receives all of its gas from Russia, began reducing natural gas deliveries to big industrial customers.

"It is unacceptable that the EU gas supply security is taken hostage to negotiations between Russia and Ukraine," EU spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen said, demanding an immediate resumption of gas supplies.

Russia's gas monopoly Gazprom, which had sharply limited supplies through Ukraine on Tuesday, stopped all remaining gas shipments through the country as of 7:44 a.m. (0544 GMT) Wednesday, Ukraine's gas company Naftogaz said.

The list of countries that have seen their gas cut off totally or in part include- Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Austria, France, Germany, Hungary and Poland.

I have a hard time sympathizing with Russia. They threatened to do the same in 2006 but backed down. This time they went all the way, and how many lives will be put in danger? This is an economic act of war and countries have begun fighting over less in the past. I don't expect that to happen today but Russia has to be rebuked for this. How? I don't know but it has to be done or Russia will bully most of Europe again.


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Comments (19)

The EU needs to find other ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

The EU needs to find other sources of energy as the supply from Russia must be considered unreliable. In fact, the EU should outlaw importation of NG from unreliable sources as it ultimately leads to this kind of crisis. Such a law on the books would send a message to source nations that once you willfully cut off the supply you might as well keep it off as it will no longer be allowed into the EU.

If the EU could only come to terms with the junk science of global warming they could get all the coal they wanted from many sources and you can easily stockpile coal.

The EU will look to the US ... (Below threshold)
retired miilitary:

The EU will look to the US to bail them out of the fire. I think that Obama will do so and put us in a deeper hole. He may suprise me. I hope so.

I'm not sure I get why Russ... (Below threshold)
Anon Y. Mous:

I'm not sure I get why Russia is the bad guy here. Sure, there are plenty of instances where Russia does fit that role, but I just don't see it here. They want to sell their gas at a particular price. Ukraine doesn't want to pay that price. Russia says "OK, no gas for you, but we will continue to ship gas to Europe through the pipes that cross your territory." Ukraine says "OK", then proceeds to help themselves to some of the gas as it passes through. Russia says, "Enough of that, no more gas through those lines."

Unless Russia uses the issue as a pretext to militarily attack Ukraine, I don't see the problem. Let the market work. In the short term, the price of gas in Europe goes up. If the Russians and Ukrainians can't come to terms, other methods of delivering gas to Europe will be developed.

Sounds like good news for E... (Below threshold)
kevino:

Sounds like good news for Europeans trying to reduce green house gases.

Anon Y. Mous,They ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Anon Y. Mous,

They are negotiating next year's price, not the price of what's currently going through the pipeline (or should be going through). Russia is not acting in good faith by shutting off gas for which they are already contracted to deliver. That's not the free market that's Russia acting as a bully.

Isn't that the general idea... (Below threshold)
MPR:

Isn't that the general idea? Stop the use of fossil fuels? For the good of the planet? The Russians are just helping prove Obamalala's campaign diatribe about having our thermostats set at 72 and the rest of the world being OK with that. Are the Europeans making the sacrifices we are going to have to make?

I guess the Cold War is bac... (Below threshold)
Roy:

I guess the Cold War is back on again.

Cutting off the gas is a tw... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Cutting off the gas is a two-edged sword. Russia isn't getting any money for what it's not shipping. Or do they honestly believe other countries will continue to pay? This is going to push those people to look for alternative sources. Russians are going to find out that you can't eat oil or natural gas.

Thank goodness for global w... (Below threshold)
mcg Author Profile Page:

Thank goodness for global warming, otherwise those Europeans sure would be cold this winter.

The Ukraine should not be a... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

The Ukraine should not be allowed to steal fuel from Russia. I don't care how many kittens Putin strangles on a daily basis.

Yuschenko, briefly hailed as the saviour of democracy in the former Eastern Bloc, is a piece of shit. His popularity hovers around 10% as government and police corruption is ever more rampant--worse, in fact, than in Russia, with all of those KGB-oligarchs greasing each other's palms. (The corruption is perhaps less obvious simply because there is less wealth to plunder in the Ukraine than in Russia.) Yuschenko's kid (19 years old? 20?) drives around in a 7-series BMW while most of the population goes hungry. But hey, vodka's still cheap!

Russia would be doing Ukrainians a favour by invading and toppling that idiot government, but they wouldn't want to have to clean up the mess and take care of the people.

I actually have an editoria... (Below threshold)

I actually have an editorial set to run on Wizbang Blue on this very serious issue as well as soon as I found out about this story this morning on China's Xinhua news service. This is indeed a very important geopolitical story here.

Russia might use some price dispute story as a cover here. But Eastern Europe's interest in NATO membership as well as support for U.S. missiles, military bases or other alliances is most likely the real issue here. And using gas supplies to politically extort Europe is a very dangerous geopolitical game that Moscow is playing. This is entirely unacceptable and requites an immediate resolution.

Leaving many in the cold in Europe with no heat, no business, or no jobs is political extortion of the very worst variety. This is a real crisis here. Not merely some price dispute as Gazprom may publicly claim. Moscow is using gas supplies to determine the politics and military alliances of the European Union and of the former Easten Bloc states that have been receiving gas from the Ukraine.

Linking vital supplies such as gas to geopolitics is a dangerous business, and wholly unacceptable in my view. Russia's Gazprom is acting as a political arm of the Putin foreign policy machine, not an independent business entity here.

This is an economi... (Below threshold)
kbiel Author Profile Page:
This is an economic act of war and countries have begun fighting over less in the past. I don't expect that to happen today but Russia has to be rebuked for this. How? I don't know but it has to be done or Russia will bully most of Europe again.
Bullies always go after those most likely to capitulate.
kbiel, spoken like someone ... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

kbiel, spoken like someone who knows shit-all about early-mid 20th century European geopolitics and isn't afraid to show it.

The evils of enviromentalis... (Below threshold)
SPURWING PLOVER:

The evils of enviromentalism and deep ecology where the radical eco-freaks have taken over i mean the EUROPEAN SONIET UNION have threatened sancions against african nations that still use DDT. THE BLOOD OF THE INOCENTS ON THE HANDS OF THE ENVIROMENTALIST THE LIES OF RACHEAL CARSON

Spurwing Plover, you're the... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Spurwing Plover, you're the best.

It's Ukraine. Only ... (Below threshold)

It's Ukraine. Only Russians and their leftist useful idiots say "the" Ukraine, since they believe it to be part of Russia. It most certainly is not.

Don't be a sucker for Russian propaganda.

Mac Lorry:<blockquot... (Below threshold)
Anon Y. Mous:

Mac Lorry:

They are negotiating next year's price, not the price of what's currently going through the pipeline (or should be going through). Russia is not acting in good faith by shutting off gas for which they are already contracted to deliver. That's not the free market that's Russia acting as a bully.

No, the dispute is over what Ukraine will pay in 2009:

Gazprom stopped pumping gas to Ukraine for domestic consumption on 1 January after the two countries failed to agree on a fixed price for 2009. The pipelines that cross Ukraine also carry gas to Europe but that continued to flow, until Moscow accused Ukraine of siphoning off Europe's fuel and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin retaliated by ordering Gazprom to cut EU-bound exports by the amount being stolen.

Yesterday Russia stopped gas supplies through Ukraine to Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece, Turkey, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia and Macedonia.

The previous deal between Ukraine and Russia expired 12/31/08. That's why Russia stopped delivering gas for Ukraine on 1/1/09. They continued delivering gas to other EU countries through Ukraine, but then ceased that as well when, according to Russia, Ukraine continued to take the gas from the pipeline anyway.

There are two players in this dispute, and Ukraine has no moral right to expect that Russia should sell gas to Ukraine at whatever price the Ukrainians unilaterally decide is fair. They must negotiate a deal equitable to both sides, or do without.

SILENT SPRING WAS A BIG FAT... (Below threshold)
Spurwing Plover:

SILENT SPRING WAS A BIG FAT LIE

Don't ever stop, dude.... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Don't ever stop, dude.




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