Russia’s neo-Stalinist president and Chabad "chief rabbi" of Russia Berel Lazar’s good friend Vladimir Putin has cut all gas to Ukraine, potentially freezing to death many elderly people there and in the Baltic states. Ukraine’s crime? Democracy.
First, Kevin Kerr of MarketWatch reports from Estonia on the potential for this to happen, 11 days before it actually took place:
…Like most of the Baltic countries, Estonia has relied on Russia to provide a vast amount of its energy supply throughout the years. But that relationship has soured somewhat with Estonia. A far worse situation is brewing in some of the former Soviet Union States.
For example, the Ukraine has been a thorn in the side of Russia and the Putin administration. Now Russia is pursuing a geopolitical goal to block Ukraine from joining NATO and the E.U. something that Ukraine certainly wants.
Turning off the spigot and turning up the heat
The Kremlin is well aware that energy is a tried and tested political weapon and they are ready and willing to use it. When I turned on the evening news last night from Russia, watching from my home in Estonia, the first three stories pertained to the Putin administration, energy and the cold, cold winter.
The Kremlin is seeking control over pricing of the vast pipelines that crisscross the Ukraine. These vital pipelines are at present the primary gateway for the wealthy European market. The Kremlin has Rubles on the brain and sees Ukraine as a major impediment to the riches that lie beyond.
Other former Soviet Union States like Belarus have capitulated to Russia and continue to given Russia a cut-rate, bargain basement deal. As a reward Belarus will continue to pay only $49 a thousand cubic meters for Russian Gas in 2006.
On the contrary, the defiant Ukraine is getting socked with an increase from $50 per thousand cubic feet to a whopping $160-$230 price tag in 2006. Other countries feeling the energy pinch include: Moldova ($150-$160), Estonia ($120-$125), Lithuania ($120-125) and Latvia ($120-$125).
It could be a very long and cold winter for many of these countries citizens that live on fixed incomes. Capitalism has provided many comforts not seen during communism and war, but has also brought with it the growing pains of a free market economy.
In an attempt to further legitimize its position, the Putin government and the state owned Rosneft, (formerly Yukos), is seeking out Western leaders to put a better face on the situation and encourage Western investment in the major Russian energy company.
‘Bushneft or bust’
When the Kremlin seized Yukos and jailed its leader Mikhail Khordokovsky in Siberia for "tax evasion," the wheels of change were set in motion, and they continue to roll on.
Another major shift just occurred as ousted German leader Gerhard Schröder, plagued by unemployment in his country, decided not to become a statistic himself and accepted a job in a top post with Gazprom the giant energy company in Russia.
Ironically Gazprom is behnd an ambitious pipeline project between Russia and Germany that Schröder championed while in office. Actually, it´s not that ironic, just disturbing.
In a similar move, the Kremlin is purportedly trying to entice former U.S. Commerce Secretary Donald Evans to come on board as the new chairman of Rosneft. Clearly all of this is an attempt to calm the fears of investors from the West ahead of the Rosneft initial public offering set for 2006.
"This is the latest Kremlin strategy to co-opt and hush the Western nations by making them complicit in its crimes… When everyone is guilty, then no one is guilty goes the logic… Oil, gas, politics, intimidation, and repression are all mixed together," observed chess master and political dissident Garry Kasparov In a recent Wall Street Journal article.…
Now, today’s London Telegraph breaks the news – Russia is freezing out Ukarine:
Russia took Europe to the brink of a winter energy crisis yesterday when it carried out a Cold War-style threat and halted gas deliveries to Ukraine, the main conduit for exports to the West.
With a quarter of its gas supplied by Russia, Europe is facing serious disruption and price rises for as long as the dispute rumbles on.
Moscow turned off the tap at 10am after Ukraine refused to sign a new contract with the Russian state monopoly Gazprom quadrupling prices.
Critics of the Kremlin say the rise was punishment for the Orange Revolution in 2004 which brought in a westward-leaning government that promised to remove Ukraine from the Kremlin’s sphere of influence.
The American State Department said that "such an abrupt stop creates insecurity in the energy sector in the region and raises serious questions about the use of energy to exert political pressure".
The European Union has called an emergency meeting of energy ministers on Wednesday.
Britain is less vulnerable than mainland Europe because it does not receive direct supplies from the former Soviet bloc.
But as other countries seek to shore up their reserves, less gas is likely to be pumped through the pipeline that links the Continent with Britain. That could mean higher prices and, if there is no quick resolution, possible breaks in supplies.
The European Commission says that most countries have between a week and two months’ emergency reserves.
Ukraine has upset Moscow by pushing to join the EU and Nato. However, Russia insists that the price rise merely brings Ukraine in line with the price that most of Europe pays: about $240 per 1,000 cubic metres.
President Vladimir Putin adopted almost warlike terms when he spoke on television as the hours ticked by before the ultimatum expired.
"If no clear response [from Kiev] follows, we will conclude that our proposal has been rejected," he said.
If Ukraine’s reserves run out, it could be tempted to siphon off gas intended for other countries. It claims the right to do so in lieu of transit fees.
The cut-off coincided with Russia assuming the rotating presidency of the G8 leading industrialised nations.
In Britain, millions of families started paying higher fuel prices yesterday.
Scottish and Southern Energy raised prices by 13.6 per cent, adding approximately £50 to the average annual bill, while electricity charges will go up by 12 per cent, or about £30 a year.
Npower puts its rises into effect today, adding 14.5 per cent for gas and 13.6 per cent for electricity.
This thug is Berel Lazar‘s close friend. Lazar shills for him. Lazar even intercedes for him in Washington.
Wake up Jews – Chabad is your enemy.
UPDATE: Russia restores gas to central and western Europe – but not the Ukraine. The Financial Times reports after the jump.