Tag Archives: Gazprom

«Endeavor to change regime in Russia – nearly official explanation for sanctions»

Dmitry Evstafyev, born 1966, graduated from College of Asian and African Studies of Moscow state University and pre-doctorate courses Institute of USA and Canada Studies of Russian Academy of Sciences. Since 1992 – engaged in political and security studies. Since 2001 – actively worked in business PR, risk assessment, and strategic consulting business. Worked with and in major Russian industrial corporations. Since 2013 – Professor of Chair of Integrated communications of National Research University – Higher School of Economics.

Romanian-flag– Mr. Evstafyev, you said in one of your recent article that between Putin’s speech at the Yalta and Sochi (Valdai) are notable differences. But I think it’s normal, also the target audience was different. Am I wrong ? Give our readers some details about you opinion.

Evstafyev– You are both right and wrong. You are right from the point of view of immediate audience. It is definitely foreign politicians and political scientists. You are wrong from the point of view of the major audience. That is Russian “ruling class” and its associates. Everybody in Russia for some time was waiting for “signals” from President. Signals came and they were quite strong. They reflected the new – more difficult – political situation and integrity of the “inner circle”. These are predominantly “internal” messages. They also reflect absence of radical foreign policy plans. But that is also an important “internal” message.
In general one should understand that for current Russian leadership at this point of their political life “domestic” (in a wide meaning of the term) is much more important that “foreign”. That is why the “Valdai” speech was so widely covered in Russia. Much wider than “Yalta” speech.

– You say that Russia should take advantage of the current window of opportunity and initiate a systemic reform of the government and political stage. Do you think that we will witnesses to significant changes in the two plans in the next few months?

– I would draw you attention to my other article – “Chances for development”/ ”Шансы на развитие”  (published in gazeta.ru, November 3, 2014). Some important points were outlined there. If we will not witness a drastic change including reshuffle of the upper echelons, the political crisis in late 2015 – early 2016 is inevitable. The “Valdai” speech shows that Kremlin at least sees that threat. To what extent Kremlin is able and ready to act – that is a big question to which no one knows the answer. But the pressure for “less liberal” and more “industrial” (we call that “anti-Kudrin”) economic agenda grows. The problem is that the worse the economic situation is and the more pressure the West puts on Russia the smaller the chance for liberals in the government to survive.

the-cold-war-era

– In April, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has published an article entitled “Putin should prepare for a long Ice Age period”. Now, the same journal released a column signed by John Kerry, that seems an invitation to calm down the tensions between US and Russia. Course, sanctions go on, but what do you think ? Will have a new Cold War or is time to back the business as usual ?

– There would probably be not a Cold War in a traditional sense since there is little (but some and that is important ideological content) and no global bipolarity. But the confrontation has already started. The West in general does not conceal that its target is to change a regime in Russia with – let’s say – trans-constitutional means. That was an explicit – nearly official – explanation for sanctions. That definitely “means war” (like in Buggs Bunny cartoons). That could be called “hybrid Cold War” but in general the Western idea that it could try to remove regime in Moscow simultaneously trying to cooperate with it where the West wants (jihadists, Iran, non-proliferation) looks ingenuously stupid. War means war. And for Russian economy and policy the “long ice” period (10 years I think) would be not good. It would be great.

– The presence of President Putin at APEC and G20 Summit changed something regarding bilateral relations between Russia and the West countries ?

– No. The mid-term political line is determined and no one seems to be ready to pull back. The earliest time for changes – early spring. I do not think that any chances for dialogue would emerge in spring but who knows…… The starting point is clear – West should unequivocally recognize that the Crimea belongs to Russia, but I do not think that it is ready yet. We can wait…..

– Oil and gas market has been “pretty turbulent” in recent months. Chart.ashxYou also work on the business consulting field. Give me an advice, please: if I am a Chinese businessman, should I buy shares to Rosneft?

– If you are Chinese and you are a businessman – yes, buy. If you are US or EU and you are an “investor” (you are engaged in speculative transactions at the fund market) – sell. If you are real US businessman – buy. If you are real businessman from EU – sell to Chinese or Indian. There will be very little space (if any) for EU-based business in fuel and energy sphere in Russia if the current political trend continues. There will be, though, space for others.

I ask you about because actually, we notice that “Gazprom”,“Rosneft” and “Lukoil” are considering re-placement of their shares on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong in Asian currencies. As the “Interfax” said, the topic was discussed last week at a meeting of Russian Ministry of Economic Development with its counterpart in Hong Kong as part of the APEC summit in Beijing. Do you think it’s a move with medium and longterm impact on oil and gas market?

– In a mid-term perspective – yes. In a sort term – no. At this time too little of operational and financial infrastructure in the Far East exists for these companies despite the fact that the recommendations to develop it were put on the table in early 2000s. It would take 2-3 years under current circumstances to develop it. After that the impact could and would start to grow.

– Finally, but not least important thing: how is perceived from Moscow the recent result of Romanian presidential election ?

Hardly noticeable. Interesting. Absolutely opposite situation here. At the local Moscow elections all who used “I-ph”, Facebook, Vkontakte as well as administrative resource lost. Heavily. Grass-roots. Interesting result. Much more attention to Moldova election. Moscow is not enthusiastic about Moldova division. In my understanding Moscow would prefers to maintain status-quo. But considering other issues – one more Moldova, one less Moldova – no big deal. People in Europe do not understand that they pushed Russians (most of them, excluding not very many selected personalities) beyond the “threshold of pain”. People think that the crisis and confrontation would be anyway. Than why we should be “nice”?

interview made by Gabriela Ionita

According American expert Gordon Hahn, ”Putin would have paid a heavy political price domestically if he ignored the voice of Russians from Crimea”

Power&Politics World – Bucharest – Romania/www.powerpolitics.ro

Romanian-flag– Mr. Hahn, can we talk about winners and losers in the crisis in Ukraine, or the things are much more nuanced than they seem at first sight?

Dr. Gordon M. Hahn

Dr. Gordon M. Hahn

Gordon Hahn: – Everyone right now has lost something. The big loser so far is Ukraine. It has lost Crimea, is at risk of further destabilization and even Russian occupation of eastern Ukraine, has an unstable government, and its constitutional system lacks legitimacy at least until the May presidential elections. Russia has gained Crimea which will have some economic costs, and the sanctions will add to those. Right now a mitigating plus for Moscow is that historical justice has been restored, since Crimea was always part of Russia until the totalitarian internationalist communist regime which sought to destroy nationalities and nation-states in order to evolve the new ‘Soviet man’ and identity and establish a global communist regime. The US and the West have lost by making a regional and semi-global power, Russia, something close to an enemy and thereby damaging their own national security. They did this through their policies of expanding NATO without Russia and against its will and of coupling that threatening policy for Russia with efforts to support democratization and therefore, wittingly or unwittingly, anti-Russian opposition movements and de facto ‘color revolutions’ in states near or neighboring Russia. Moreover, the West’s sanctions and possible Russian counter-sanctions are going to put at risk the global economic recovery, which is weak to begin with. Perhaps, the only winners are countries like China and India, which come off as paragons of reason compared to their Russian, American, and European counterparts – all engaged in ‘19th century thinking,’ as they say.
– What do you think: was an error of Mr. Putin (and his stuff) or a long awaited rematch?
GH: – I think Putin overreacted to the long-standing series of slights Russia has experienced since the end of the Cold War. Georgia 2008 was the first sign that Moscow would no longer acquiesce in what it perceives as threats to its national security and ‘fait accomplis’ imposed on it by Washington and the West. Another color revolution with neo-fascist elements occurring during Putin’s big moment at Sochi and accomplished through a betrayal of the Western-sponsored February 21 agreement between Yanukovich and the opposition pushed him over the edge.
– There is a usual confrontation between Russia and US (look, they are speaking about a new Cold War), or is a shift of paradigm of international relation system?
GH: – There is no doubt that the geostrategic systemic aspect of the crisis features a West in some sort of decline, in particular that of a hegemon in a unipolar system – with regional and semi-global powers like Russia and China counterbalancing against the hegemon. So this could be the beginning of a shift to a more multipolar and less stable international system. The international law aspect is also important. When great powers see it in their interests to claim international law as the standard of international political conduct, they are operating under the rather false assumption that international law usually sticks and that it is a reflection of a democratic order. However, there is nothing like a democratic international political system in place. This should be evident from the inordinate power that the five permamnent members of the National Security Council enjoy. Hence, when there is disagreement between the council’s members the system is likely to breakdown and needs to be supplemented with timely international conferences and negotiations. This was not done with regard to Ukraine until it was very, very, indeed too late, because the crisis had been in the making with NATO’s nearly two decade march east to Russia’s borders.
– Sometimes it seems to me that in the media battle between East and West has lost something essential: the simple Ukrainians from Euromaidan, all those people unemployed political and ideological. Can you to distinguish them in this melting propaganda?
GH: – No, not very clearly, unfortunately. It is hard to make generalizations about something as grand as the ‘international media’. I can only speak to the media I watch. I have found the U.S. independent media to be nearly as one-sided and hysterical as Russia’s state media. Russian independent media – Ekho Moskvy and others – have done a superb job, and Aleksei Venediktov should win a Nobel or Pullitzer for what he has done there. Oddly enough, the radio station is funded by the Russian state-owned GazProm’s media holding company. If the Kremlin could make its state media as all-encompassing and objective as Ekho, there would be no complaints about media freedom in Russia.
– Already Crimea situation is quite clear. Although many assumptions are made, yet no one dares to answer the question: will stop Russia here or there is the next stage, at least for the Eastern region of Ukraine?
GH: – I expect that if there are no unforeseen circumstances, provocations, or US_Russia_UkraineWestern missteps, Russia will not invade Ukraine, east or west. I do not think the plan is to conquer Ukraine or Poland or Europe as much of the biased US media and analytical community claims. Nor do I assume that Putin’s original intent was to annex Crimea. Rather, he might have sought to ensure security there and retaliate against the West’s meddling only, but the local population’s immediate calls for reunification with Russia and perhaps other considerations informed by the unfolding of events led Putin to support the reunification movement and referendum. After all, once those demands emerged, Putin would have paid a heavy political price domestically if he ignored them, especially if violence developed in Crimea, or eastern Ukrainian neo-fascists infiltrated and began provocations, or Kiev sent troops, which would have led to war.
– As it stand the things at the moment, and calling to you expertize: the globalization helps or entangles when it comes to managed a crisis of this kind?
GH: – Need more time to think about this question.
– Jens Stoltenberg most likely appointment to the Secretary General of NATO changes something in Russia’s perception about NATO plans? See you a better mediation of differences of opinion between the two parties? Do you think it’s a wise choice – Norwegian instead of Polish – we remember that previously was mentioned the name of Radoslaw Sikorsky (artisan of discussions between Yanukovich – opposition)?
GH: – I think selecting a Pole and one who has clear anti-Russian sentiments would have added additional animosity to the Russian-West relationship. This explains the appearance of possible new choice.

                                interview made by Gabriela Ionita

Gordon M. Hahn is analyst and Advisory Board Member of Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation, Chicago, Illinois, Senior Researcher – Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies, Akribis Group, San Jose, California and Senior Researcher and Adjunct Professor, MonTREP, Monterey, Calif. Also Dr. Hahn is author of the well-received books ”Russia’s Islamic Threat” (Yale University Press, 2007) and ”Russia’s Revolution From Above, 1985-2000” (Transaction Publishers, 2002), the forthcoming The ‘Caucasus Emirate’ Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland Publishers, 2014), various think tank reports, and numerous articles in academic journals and other English and Russian language media. He has taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, and San Francisco State Universities and as a Fulbright Scholar at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia and has been a senior associate/visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Kennan Institute in Washington DC and at the Hoover Institution.

 

The European Diplomacy, Energy Security and Central Asian Stake

The events in Central Asian countries very rarely attract massive international media attention. It does not means that nothing happens here. In the last decade of May, the third annual meeting of deputy foreign ministers of Central Asian states (an event organized by the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy – UNRCCA and held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan) was focused on enhancing regional cooperation and sustainable development. In the same time, the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan Mahmudjon Sobirov received the U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Geoffrey Pyatt. Mr Pyatt expressed desire of the US side to facilitate trade between Central and South Asia. In his turn, M. Sobirov expressed hope that the US will also support the implementation of energy projects in Tajikistan that would contribute not only to the economic development of Tajikistan, but to the entire region, since these projects will allow Tajikistan to export energy to the countries of South Asia. In another part of the world, Europe – Germany announced that it will gradually close all nuclear reactors by 2020. Likewise, Switzerland. But until to this “green future”, existing energy alternatives cannot yet cover the energy needs of the European, American or Chinese. In this context, the fuel resources of the countries of Central Asia makes this space an issue for the diplomatic front where the battle is becoming increasingly fierce. Whether we speak of the European Union or China, the basic idea remains the same and was sound enough: diversify supplies in order to reduce structural dependence on Russia. In this discussion we will limit to the moves from the European side. Projects started, projects delayed and too few concrete results. Moreover, history seems again from Russia’s side. Unrest in North Africa and the Middle East increases the need of European Union to find new solutions to ensure energy needs. So no wonder there is a European Union diplomatic offensive on the all possible fronts.

Nabucco vs South Stream

When talking about the two major energy projects of European Southern Corridor, we mainly observed that Western European diplomacy has always tried, at least in public, a delicate balance by supporting both projects. Diplomats and officials from Austria, Germany or even Italy have defined open the option to support both projects. What mattered in the price of gas imported from Russia. In contrast, the countries of Eastern Europe, namely Bulgaria and Romania have tried without much success a dual approach. Berlin, for instance, was (and still is) interested in opening new pipeline routes out of Central Asia in order to diminish the European Union’s dependence on Russian energy. German diplomats also were on the lookout for ways to boost trade in ways that benefited German manufacturers. In addition, the German military was eager to retain access to a military base at Termez, near the Uzbek-Afghan border. More, the meltdown of Kazakhstan’s banking sector in early 2009 cost German firms an estimated 500 million euros in lost investments, 300 million euros of which will have to be borne by German taxpayers. But the economic debacle did nothing to diminish Merkel’s enthusiasm for engagement with Astana. But from Moscow the diplomatic offensive of Germany was overlooked, given the many economic and political projects common to both countries. In contrast, many of Romania’s diplomatic contacts in Central Asia (even though concrete results have minor) were born from the Kremlin a grumble; however, the relations between the two countries are not the happiest. Romanian diplomacy seems unable to adapt in real time to the dynamic changes in the international community. (Full text)

PublishedOriental Review, June 4, 2011