Monday, January 12, 2009

Russian-Ukrainian gas dispute has geopolitical aspect

I guess there's a tentative agreement between Ukraine (with implications for Central and Western Europe) over gas pricing and flow to Western Europe, involving international monitors. So the crisis (if it really deserves that moniker) may be over -- for now. I think most people understand there are geopolitical aspects to the dispute that may well trump the economic aspects (though with the world financial crisis having hit energy prices and Russia's economy pretty hard the economic aspect is not trivial). As this Register editorial explains, Russia's desire to remind Ukraine of its energy dependence is tied to deep-rooted Russian fears about invasion, tied to the knowledge that its borders are not well protected by topography, and what it sees, as in the Bush administration push to admit Ukraine to NATO (which most European countries now oppose, in no small part because of a similar gas cut-off three years ago), as U.S. messing about in what has traditionally been known as the "near abroad," which Russia considers vital to its security. If the push for Ukrainian NATO membership continues, expect more of what might be considered as Russian nastiness toward Ukraine.

I wrote about the gas cut-off back in 2006, for Antiwar.com, explaining the geopolitical aspects in more detail than I want to do in a blog post. Here's a link.

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