miércoles, 3 de diciembre de 2014

Más repercusiones


Siguen los análisis sobre el significado de la cancelación del proyecto gasífero “South Stream” de Rusia al sudeste europeo. Veamos primero esta nota de Alexander Mercouris, posteada hoy por el “Peregrino” en su sitio web The Vineyard of the Saker (http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com.ar/):

Título: The Importance Of The Cancellation Of South Stream

Texto: The reaction to the cancellation of the Sound Stream project has been a wonder to behold and needs to be explained very carefully. 

In order to understand what has happened it is first necessary to go back to the way Russian-European relations were developing in the 1990s. 

Briefly, at that period, the assumption was that Russia would become the great supplier of energy and raw materials to Europe. This was the period of Europe's great “rush for gas” as the Europeans looked forward to unlimited and unending Russian supplies. It was the increase in the role of Russian gas in the European energy mix which made it possible for Europe to run down its coal industry and cut its carbon emissions and bully and lecture everyone else to do the same. 

However the Europeans did not envisage that Russia would just supply them with energy. Rather they always supposed this energy would be extracted for them in Russia by Western energy companies. This after all is the pattern in most of the developing world. The EU calls this “energy security” - a euphemism for the extraction of energy in other countries by its own companies under its own control. 

It never happened that way. Though the Russian oil industry was privatised it mostly remained in Russian hands. After Putin came to power in 2000 the trend towards privatisation in the oil industry was reversed. One of the major reasons for western anger at the arrest of Khodorkovsky and the closure of Yukos and the transfer of its assets to the state oil company Rosneft was precisely because is reversed this trend of privatisation in the oil industry. 

In the gas industry the process of privatisation never really got started. Gas export continued to be controlled by Gazprom, maintaining its position as a state owned monopoly gas exporter. Since Putin came to power Gazprom’s position as a state owned Russian monopoly has been made fully secure. 

Much of the anger that exists in the west towards Putin can be explained by European and western resentment at his refusal and that of the Russian government to the break up of Russia's energy monopolies and to the “opening up” (as it is euphemistically called) of the Russian energy industry to the advantage of western companies. Many of the allegations of corruption that are routinely made against Putin personally are intended to insinuate that he opposes the “opening up” of the Russian energy industry and the break up and privatisation of Gazprom and Rosneft because he has a personal stake in them (in the case of Gazprom, that he is actually its owner). If one examines in detail the specific allegations of corruption made against Putin (as I have done) this quickly becomes obvious. 

His agenda of forcing Russia to privatise and break up its energy monopolies has never gone away. This is why Gazprom, despite the vital and reliable service it provides to its European customers, comes in for so much criticism. When Europeans complain about Europe's energy dependence upon Russia, they express their resentment at having to buy gas from a single Russian state owned company (Gazprom) as opposed to their own western companies operating in Russia. 

This resentment exists simultaneously with a belief, very entrenched in Europe, that Russia is somehow dependent upon Europe as a customer for its gas and as a supplier of finance and technology. 

This combination of resentment and overconfidence is what lies behind the repeated European attempts to legislate in Europe on energy questions in a way that is intended to force Russia to “open up” its the energy industry there. 

The first attempt was the so-called Energy Charter, which Russia signed but ultimately refused to ratify. The latest attempt is the EU's so-called Third Energy Package. 

This is presented as a development of EU anti-competition and anti-monopoly law. In reality, as everyone knows, it is targeted at Gazprom, which is a monopoly, though obviously not a European one. 

This is the background to the conflict over South Stream. The EU authorities have insisted that South Stream must comply with the Third Energy Package even though the Third Energy Package came into existence only after the outline agreements for South Stream had been already reached. 

Compliance with the Third Energy Package would have meant that though Gazprom supplied the gas it could not own or control the pipeline through which gas was supplied. 

Were Gazprom to agree to this, it would acknowledge the EU’s authority over its operations. It would in that case undoubtedly face down the line more demands for more changes to its operating methods. Ultimately this would lead to demands for changes in the structure of the energy industry in Russia itself. 

What has just happened is that the Russians have said no. Rather than proceed with the project by submitting to European demands, which is what the Europeans expected, the Russians have to everyone’s astonishment instead pulled out of the whole project. 

This decision was completely unexpected. As I write this, the air is of full of angry complaints from south-eastern Europe that they were not consulted or informed of this decision in advance. Several politicians in south-eastern Europe (Bulgaria especially) are desperately clinging to the idea that the Russian announcement is a bluff (it isn’t) and that the project can still be saved. Since the Europeans cling to the belief that the Russians have no alternative to them as a customer, they were unable to anticipate and cannot now explain this decision. 

Here it is important to explain why South Stream is important to the countries of south-eastern Europe and to the European economy as a whole. 

All the south eastern European economies are in bad shape. For these countries South Stream was a vital investment and infrastructure project, securing their energy future. Moreover the transit fees that it promised would have been a major foreign currency earner. 

For the EU, the essential point is that it depends on Russian gas. There has been a vast amount of talk in Europe about seeking alternative supplies. Progress in that direction had been to put it mildly small. Quite simply alternative supplies do not exist in anything like the quantity needed to replace the gas Europe gets from Russia. 

There has been some brave talk of supplies of US liquefied natural gas replacing gas supplied by pipeline from Russia. Not only is such US gas inherently more expensive than Russian pipeline gas, hitting European consumers hard and hurting European competitiveness. It is unlikely to be available in anything like the necessary quantity. Quite apart from the probable dampening effects of the recent oil price fall on the US shale industry, on past record the US as a voracious consumer of energy will consume most or all of the energy from shales it produces. It is unlikely to be in a position to export much to Europe. The facilities to do this anyway do not exist, and are unlikely to exist for some time if ever. 

Other possible sources of gas are problematic to say the least. Production of North Sea gas is falling. Imports of gas from north Africa and the Arabian Gulf are unlikely to be available in anything like the necessary quantity. Gas from Iran is not available for political reasons. Whilst that might eventually change, the probability is when it does that the Iranians (like the Russians) will decide to direct their energy flow eastwards, towards India and China, rather than to Europe. 

For obvious reasons of geography Russia is the logical and most economic source of Europe’s gas. All alternatives come with economic and political costs that make them in the end unattractive. 

The EU's difficulties in finding alternative sources of gas were cruelly exposed by the debacle of the so-called another Nabucco pipeline project to bring Europe gas from the Caucasus and Central Asia. Though talked about for years in the end it never got off the ground because it never made economic sense. 

Meanwhile, whilst Europe talks about diversifying its supplies, it is Russia which is actually cutting the deals. 

Russia has sealed a key deal with Iran to swap Iranian oil for Russian industrial goods. Russia has also agreed to invest heavily in the Iranian nuclear industry. If and when sanctions on Iran are lifted the Europeans will find the Russians already there. Russia has just agreed a massive deal to supply gas to Turkey (about which more below). Overshadowing these deals are the two huge deals Russia has made this year to supply gas to China. 

Russia's energy resources are enormous but they are not infinite. The second deal done with China and the deal just done with Turkey redirect to these two countries gas that had previously been earmarked for Europe. The gas volumes involved in the Turkish deal almost exactly match those previously intended for South Stream. The Turkish deal replaces South Stream. 

These deals show that Russia had made a strategic decision this year to redirect its energy flow away from Europe. Though it will take time for the full effect to become clear, the consequences of that for Europe are grim. Europe is looking at a serious energy shortfall, which it will only be able to make up by buying energy at a much higher price. 

These Russian deals with China and Turkey have been criticised or even ridiculed for providing Russia with a lower price for its gas than that paid by Europe. 

The actual difference in price is not as great as some allege. Such criticism anyway overlooks the fact that price is only one part in a business relationship. 

By redirecting gas to China, Russia cements economic links with the country that it now considers its key strategic ally and which has (or which soon will have) the world’s biggest and fastest growing economy. By redirecting gas to Turkey, Russia consolidates a burgeoning relationship with Turkey of which it is now the biggest trading partner. 

Turkey is a key potential ally for Russia, consolidating Russia's position in the Caucasus and the Black Sea. It is also a country of 76 million people with a $1.5 trillion rapidly growing economy, which over the last two decades has become increasingly alienated and distanced from the EU and the West. 

By redirecting gas away from Europe, Russia by contrast leaves behind a market for its gas which is economically stagnant and which (as the events of this year have shown) is irremediably hostile. No one should be surprised that Russia has given up on a relationship from which it gets from its erstwhile partner an endless stream of threats and abuse, combined with moralising lectures, political meddling and now sanctions. No relationship, business or otherwise, can work that way and the one between Russia and Europe is no exception. 

I have said nothing about the Ukraine since in my opinion this has little bearing on this issue. 

South Stream was first conceived because of the Ukraine's continuous abuse of its position as a transit state - something which is likely to continue. It is important to say that this fact was acknowledged in Europe as much as in Russia. It was because the Ukraine perennially abuses its position as a transit state that the South Stream project had the grudging formal endorsement of the EU. Basically, the EU needs to circumvent the Ukraine to secure its energy supplies every bit as much as Russia wanted a route around the Ukraine to avoid it. 

The Ukraine’s friends in Washington and Brussels have never been happy about this, and have constantly lobbied against South Stream. 

The point is it was Russia which pulled the plug on South Stream when it had the option of going ahead with it by accepting the Europeans’ conditions. In other words the Russians consider the problems posed by the Ukraine as a transit state to be a lesser evil than the conditions the EU was attaching to South Stream . 

South Stream would take years to build and its cancellation therefore has no bearing on the current Ukrainian crisis. The Russians decided they could afford to cancel it is because they have decided Russia’s future is in selling its energy to China and Turkey and other states in Asia (more gas deals are pending with Korea and Japan and possibly also with Pakistan and India) than to Europe. Given that this is so, for Russia South Stream has lost its point. That is why in their characteristically direct way, rather than accept the Europeans’ conditions, the Russians pulled the plug on it. 

In doing so the Russians have called the Europeans’ bluff. So far from Russia being dependent on Europe as its energy customer, it is Europe which has antagonised, probably irreparably, its key economic partner and energy supplier. 

Before finishing I would however first say something about those who have come out worst of all from this affair. These are the corrupt and incompetent political pygmies who pretend to be the government of Bulgaria. Had these people had a modicum of dignity and self respect they would have told the EU Commission when it brought up the Third Energy Package to take a running jump. If Bulgaria had made clear its intention to press ahead with the South Stream project, there is no doubt it would have been built. There would of course have been an almighty row within the EU as Bulgaria openly flouted the Third Energy Package, but Bulgaria would have been acting in its national interests and would have had within the EU no shortage of friends. In the end it would have won through. 

Instead, under pressure from individuals like Senator John McCain, the Bulgarian leadership behaved like the provincial politicians they are, and tried to run at the same time with both the EU hare and the Russian hounds. The result of this imbecile policy is to offend Russia, Bulgaria's historic ally, whilst ensuring that the Russian gas which might have flown to Bulgaria and transformed the country, will instead flow to Turkey, Bulgaria's historic enemy. 

The Bulgarians are not the only ones to have acted in this craven fashion. All the EU countries, even those with historic ties to Russia, have supported the EU's various sanctions packages against Russia notwithstanding the doubts they have expressed about the policy. Last year Greece, another country with strong ties to Russia, pulled out of a deal to sell its natural gas company to Gazprom because the EU disapproved of it, even though it was Gazprom that offered the best price. 

This points to a larger moral. Whenever the Russians act in the way they have just done, the Europeans respond bafflement and anger, of which there is plenty around at the moment. The EU politicians who make the decisions that provoke these Russian actions seem to have this strange assumption that whilst it is fine for the EU to sanction Russia as much as it wishes, Russia will never do the same to the EU. When Russia does, there is astonishment, accompanied always by a flood of mendacious commentary about how Russia is behaving “aggressively” or “contrary to its interests” or has “suffered a defeat”. None of this is true as the rage and recriminations currently sweeping through the EU’s corridors (of which I am well informed) bear witness. 

In July the EU sought to cripple Russia’s oil industry by sanctioning the export of oil drilling technology to Russia. That attempt will certainly fail as Russia and the countries it trades with (including China and South Korea) are certainly capable of producing this technology themselves. 

By contrast through the deals it has made this year with China, Turkey and Iran, Russia has dealt a devastating blow to the energy future of the EU. A few years down the line Europeans will start to discover that moralising and bluff comes with a price. Regardless, by cancelling South Stream, Russia has imposed upon Europe the most effective of the sanctions we have seen this year.




La siguiente nota es de Andrew Korybko para Sputnik, reproducida hoy en Oriental Review (http://orientalreview.org/2014/12/02/cold-turkey-ankara-buckles-against-western-pressure-turns-to-russia/).

Título: Cold Turkey: Ankara Buckles Against Western Pressure, Turns to Russia

Subtítulo: Russia has abandoned the troubled South Stream project and will now be building its replacement with Turkey. This monumental decision signals that Ankara has made its choice to reject Euro-Atlanticsm and embrace Eurasian integration.

Texto: In what may possibly be the biggest move towards multipolarity thus far, the ultimate Eurasian pivot, Turkey, has done away with its former Euro-Atlantic ambitions. A year ago, none of this would have been foreseeable, but the absolute failure of the US’ Mideast policy and the EU’s energy one made this stunning reversal possible in under a year. Turkey is still anticipated to have some privileged relations with the West, but the entire nature of the relationship has forever changed as the country officially engages in pragmatic multipolarity. 

Turkey’s leadership made a major move by sealing such a colossal deal with Russia in such a sensitive political environment, and the old friendship can never be restored (nor do the Turks want it to be). The reverberations are truly global.


Missing The Signs 

It’s amazing how much the West lost in such a short period of time and due to such major and totally unnecessary political miscalculations, and they owe their roots to the disastrous regime change operations in Syria and Ukraine.


The US In The Mideast:

Nearly four years ago, the US co-opted Turkey to ‘Lead From Behind’ in overthrowing the democratically elected Syrian government. However, things didn’t go as quite as planned and the Syrian people engaged in a fierce Patriotic War to defend the existence of their secular state. Turkey purposely sat out on the anti-ISIL coalition because it wanted solid guarantees of its reward in a regime-changed Syria, but none were forthcoming. Its leadership held firm, so the US started playing the ‘Kurdish Card’ of ethnic nationalism to bully them into submitting – which eventually backfired. The US crossed the line by arming and training the Kurds (some of whom are registered as terrorists by Turkey), and faced with such an existential threat to their state (that would either be unleashed wittingly or unwittingly with time), they knew they had to pivot, and fast.


The EU And Its Energy Policy:

Meanwhile, the EU totally fudged its energy policy with Russia. As a result of the Ukraine Crisis, it began exerting tremendous pressure (which was already building up) on the South Stream project, calling upon EU energy legislation clauses to state that its member states’ cooperation with Russia was illegal. Poorer countries like Bulgaria pleaded for the EU to allow the project, emphasizing how important it was for their national economies (which haven’t received much of Brussels’ largesse since joining), but to no avail, as the EU stonewalled the project. Russia had no choice but to find a replacement route and saw that the only viable stand-in was Turkey, which just so happened to be undergoing its most serious crisis ever with the US.


Ducks In A Row

Let’s look at how this geostrategic masterpiece was set into motion, as the past two months contain the main moves of this political waltz — and they’re all centered on Russian President Putin.

(1) Serbia: Putin’s October visit to Serbia served to inform his counterpart about the plans to scrap South Stream, while still giving him strong assurances that the Russian-Serbian relationship will remain intact going forward, with or without the gas project.

(2) Syria and Sochi: Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem visited Sochi last week and personally met with Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov. The meeting, held behind closed doors, was highlighted for the attention that the Russian leader gave to his guest. Putin could have told him to tell President Assad about his upcoming visit to Turkey in order to reassure his loyal and respected partner of his positive intentions and the bigger picture surrounding his motives.

(3) Turkey: The final step was for Putin to go to Turkey and make the announcement after his meeting with Erdogan. Turkey understands that it has made a definitive move by joining the project and that there is no going back from this decision. It had been rejected by the EU for decades and it now realizes that its closest military ally, the US, had played it for a fool during the entire Syrian War.

Worse still, the Kurdish Card has gotten out of control, and it seems inevitable that sooner or later the insurrection will be rekindled, and with bloody and destabilizing consequences. On a pragmatic note, global events are shifting from the West to the non-West (read: BRICS and G20), so in the national self-interests of the Turkish state, it’s seen as wise to join the new winner’s circle (after being rejected by Europe and betrayed by the US) and try to turn over a new leaf with new friends.


The Aftershocks

The announcement of the New South Stream has global implications, but here’s just a few of them as arranged by region:

Europe:

The EU will now have to pay for expensive LNG (on average 30% higher) that will likely be sold from the terminal at the Greek-Turkish border as well as remain energy dependent on risky Ukrainian routes. But there’s a catch – the poor Balkan countries are able to get in on the deal by building relatively cheaper overland connecting lines and resurrect the project…but only if they leave the EU and its authoritative energy legislation.All that it takes is for Greece or Bulgaria to abandon Brussels (which doesn’t seem improbable), and the project can either go through Macedonia en route to Serbia or via Bulgaria as initially planned, then up to the Hungarian border. At this point, it’s certainly a tantalizing thought for the countries that have paid the most for their ‘integration’ and received scarcely anything in return. Expect the New South Stream to politically divide the EU like never before.


Mideast:

There is no way that Russia would have sold Syria out after so many years of friendship, especially after Putin’s high-profile meeting with Muallem. Thus, Turkey is not forecast to directly invade Syria (although it could continue training some anti-government fighters). It may, however, allow the US to use its airbases and airspace to carry out airstrikes on ISIL.

Since it’s now behaving in a multipolar fashion, Turkey is playing all sides to its advantage, so it will still retain a defense relationship with NATO and the US, but it will no longer behave as an absolute lackey. Taking things further, Turkey’s shift to the East might allow Iran to one day build pipelines through it to access the Western market, and it could also allow Turkmen gas to transit both countries en route to Europe.


Eurasia:

Most significantly, Turkey has shown that it has the political grit to make historical decisions independent of NATO, showing that it is embracing its pivotal geography and combining it with a multipolar policy.The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (importantly encompassing Russia and China) just outlined the specific procedures for admitting new members a few months ago, although at the time analysts thought this was directed towards India and Pakistan.

Now, however, with Turkey already being a dialogue partner, it might make the rapid step to observer status and full-fledged membership just as quickly as it made its decisive pivot. There’s also been talk of the country entering into a free-trade agreement with the Russian-led Eurasian Customs Union, so it might incidentally find its EU replacement with Brussels’ eastern adversary, Moscow.
As Western decision makers are scratching their heads and wondering how it ever got to this point, they’d do well to remember that none of this would have happened had they just allowed the Syrian and Ukrainian people to live in peace with their democratically elected governments.


***


Finalmente, un comentario sobre la furia de los búlgaros respecto de su gobierno, sacados de un sitio ruso (Krasavchik - Live Journal). Aparecen hoy en el sitio web Fort Russ (http://fortruss.blogspot.com.ar/2014/12/we-turned-out-to-be-same-stupid.html): 

Título: "We turned out to be the same stupid prostitutes as the poles" - outrage and anger on Bulgarian forums

Epígrafe: I decided to read the comments on Bulgarian information resources. You can feel for our Bulgarian brothers. Translated a couple dozen of them. The vast majority of the comments, of course were written in the following spirit:

Textos:

Yes, something happened, what I was talking about a long time ago - the South Stream will pass through the territory of the country, which is a more reliable partner than we are! Well, we're a wealthy country, for us 400 million euros... is nothing. We will not even ask for compensation from the EU, you can be sure!

* * *
God, what idiots are in charge right now!

* * *
Are you Bulgarians or are you stupid? We had to fight!!!

* * *
It's very simple. To this point we were led by greedy Prime Minister with BSP party. It is a national disaster!

* * *
BSP, ABV, ATTACK, organize protests in front of the Presidential Palace, the Parliament, in order to prove to them that we are a civil society and not paid sorosoids!

* * *
In a year we will buy Russian gas from Turkey and Greece, only with commission to the Turks and the Byzantines.

* * *
Interesting, how now on forums the sorosoids will tell how dependent are Bulgarian politicians from Putin? The tragedy of Bulgaria is in vassal dependence and colonial administration! That's a reason for protest (if there is any civil society left, and not NGOs)!!!

* * *
What's going to happen to us? Probably, the next step is the placement of Chevron in Dobrudja and beginning of shale gas extraction, the price of which will be poisoned land and water, with the prospect of exchanging it for this paper, worthy of aboriginals.

* * *
How can you comment this treason? Future generations must know who destroyed their state, on whose grave to piss, whose descendants to curse.

* * *
We got to this because of traitors from the Reformation Block. Now, instead of Bulgaria, which could become an energy hub, it will be Turkey and Greece.

* * *
No comment necessary. We deserved such fate, and the definition of "Fool No. 1 in the world."

* * *
It's time to go get some firewood!

* * *
Don't worry, the pipeline will pass through Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, and Serbia. We don't need money for transit, guaranteed deliveries and cheap gas prices.

* * *
The West will never allow Bulgaria to have cheap energy and, as a consequence, a strong economy. They want us just as a colony and a source of cheap labor and cheap resources.

* * *
No Western country will allow us to have so much influence and the pipe. They do not trust us, because we are primitive, but Turks and Greeks are more respected. So everything goes according to plan.

* * *
I don't get it, is someone going to resign? Although Bulgarian "politicians" are not familiar with the words "honor", "dignity" and "resignation".

* * *
It's all over! From the most productive per capita country we have become more pitiful than the Gypsies.

* * *
This month I will not have sex with my wife because it is contrary to European values. First the European Commission should have sex with her. I profess European values.

* * *
We - Bessarabian Bulgarians want to be together with Bulgaria, but Bulgaria outside the EU, Bulgaria is a good friend of Russia! Enough already of European slavery!

* * *
How can you be such an idiot to refuse such a project!?

* * *
The truth is that Putin and Erdogan are statesmen and work for the good of their countries, not like our assholes, unfortunately.

* * *
It was clear to all of us that with the coming to power of an idiot there will be no "South Stream". But he won the majority of the votes, didn't he?

* * *

We got the same stupid prostitutes, as the poles, who were also opposed the "Nord Stream". The Russians went around them and now sell gas to the Germans for $300, at the same time, as these geniuses are paying $515. Didn't we have an example?

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