Monday, October 16, 2006

Putin's New Strategy...not pretty

According to Putin, Western companies who wished to participate in the Shtokman consortium “had to offer to Gazprom some of their own assets. Not money, but assets. We don’t need money for such investment projects, money can easily be obtained on international financial markets. We need assets.” However, Putin concluded, none of those candidate companies could offer assets commensurate to the value of the Shtokman gas deposits (Putin’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung interview cited by, Interfax, October 10, 11).

Three implications stand out in Putin’s statement. First, it insists on a form of barter whereby Western companies -- and, by implications, societies -- would transfer parts of the national infrastructure to Russia for the privilege of what Moscow terms “access” to its hydrocarbon deposits. Second, this strategy relies on manipulation of Western financial markets by Russian anti-market actors, as seen in Gazprom’s and Rosneft’s recent multi-billion dollar IPOs. And, third, the insistence on transfers of capital and infrastructure clearly forms a part of Russia’s political strategy to weaken and neutralize Europe.[emphasis added - DT]

Rather frightening that. Just imagine if Russia decided to pull a Gas War on Western Europe.

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