Resource Curse - Natural Gas is What Detonated the Ukraine Crisis
From Global Research Canada
Defending Moscow’s December 18, 2013 agreement to provide Ukraine with an aid package estimated at about $15 billion, and cheaper natural gas through discounts and “gas debt forgiveness” estimated as able to save Ukraine $7 bn in one year, Vladimir Putin said the decision to invest $15 bn in ‘brotherly slavic’ Ukraine, and grant the gas discount was “pragmatic and based on economic facts”. At the time, the “investment” in Ukraine was already conditional – not only on the political issue of Ukrainian loyalty to Moscow – but on Ukraine complying with previous longstanding, often revoked, modified or extended commitments to repay gas debts dating from as far back as the early 1990s. In December, Russia’s Finance minister Anton Siluanov said payment of the “aid or investment” funds to Ukraine, in tranches of about $2 bn each, would need Ukraine making a serious response to end-2013 estimates, by Russia, of the minimum “monetized gas debt” Ukraine has to pay. Siluanov’s ministry said this was about $2.7 bn, itself a large downward revision on other published figures from Russian sources, extending well above $5 bn. His ministry also published statements suggesting that Ukraine’s non-payment of gas taken and consumed by the country, since 2010, ran at a yearly average as high as $2 – $2.25 bn. To be sure, events starting in February as the “Maidan movement” drew massive public support in the capital and western Ukraine to overthrowing the government-in-place. This was a repeat of Egypt’s anti-Morsi flash mob street revolution, followed by the Saudi-financed military coup against elected president Morsi. In Ukraine, however, the street magic stopped in the east, and especially in Crimea where 75%-85% of votes cast in the 2010 election were for Viktor Yanukovych. To be sure, this blood-colored version of the Orange Revolution aimed at aligning Ukraine with the European Union may have scarpered further bail out payments by Moscow. Any upping of the ante, as enacted and supplied by NATO and John Kerry, could lead to Russia also making a total shutdown of gas supply to Ukraine – Kiev’s Independence Square flash mob could hope that Global Warming will shorten the winter, ease heating needs, and give Ukraine a head start for becoming a debt wracked European Union associated country – but this is far from a sure thing. The national gas debt will surely feature in the round of proposals for “Ukraine bailout” being developed by the IMF, European Commission, EU member states on a bilateral basis, the US and potentially other actors, including the ECB and the UN ECE (the UN’s European economic agency), as well as private banks and energy companies. One thing is sure and certain, much higher gas prices for Ukraine are inevitable, under any scenario.Read rest here.