Russia Make its Move. Check!
Let’s look at recent history, and consider the strategy behind the movements back and forth in Eurasia, and the consequent behavior of the coming Pan Asian superpowers.
First an assertion:
Coal is a filthy fuel, unhealthy, kills people and is burnt in abundance in China to fuel their Industrial Revolution.
This the Chinese know.
How would the Chinese cut their Coal consumption, yet still continue to provide energy for their industry?
Russia and China have a long shared border, so arranging a pipeline is easy. This makes Russian natural gas an obvious choice for China, and for Russia, there is no Ukraine stealing gas, between Russia and China as there is between Russia and the EU. Moreover, if Ukraine seems to be becoming unfriendly toward Russia, a China-Russia deal allows Russia to bypass the possible negative influence of an unfriendly intermediate state on its pipeline to its customers. Ukraine doesn’t enter into the picture at all.
This article has an interesting reflection of Russian natural character.
Here’s a key excerpt:
Thus, a very different conflict resolution strategy has emerged, which survives to this day. If you insult, aggrieve or otherwise harm a Russian, you are unlikely to get a fight… Instead, more likely than not, the Russian will simply tell you to go to hell, and then refuse to have anything further to do with you.
The US overthrew a Russian-leaning government in Ukraine, about 5 or 6 months before an election. One can speculate on the cause, but it appears to have been a US establishment reaction to the very clever preempt by Russia and Syria over he US deposing the Syrian Assad regime, a non-US-leaning government.
Why did the US do this? Apparently spite; nothing but spite. And a very poor move, strategically. Arrogance and anger do not inform a campaign; they can only detract from a campaign’s effectiveness.
Russia, once dependent on only one major customer for its gas, (Europe,) has expanded its market for both revenue and protection against US pressure or European nations to institute sanctions against their only reliable supplier of natural gas. When Russia announced a major gas deal with China, Europe was put on notice that the Russian bear was going to react. Europe might be able to use US gas, but that source of supply is fraught with difficulties. First, there’s no pipeline from North America to Europe (perhaps the Kochs will build the first transpolar pipeline without Government Guarantees); natural gas would have to go in refrigerated tankers, after being liquefied. There aren’t enough LNG tankers to supply all of Europe’s natural gas needs. Second, there aren’t enough pipelines to feed all those tankers, and not enough ports capable of filling or emptying the LNG ships. Moreover, with the current low (and still falling) oil prices, it is questionable if the US will have enough fracked NG wells drilled to become a supplier of European Gas, even in the Medium term.
The weapon of low oil prices seems to cut a deep swath in many areas, One is Russia, a Second the Fracked-US, the third Petro-Canada and the fourth the renewable energy market. If, as some have claimed, the US asked Saudi Arabia to cut the world oil price, their request is having some unintended consequences.
A set of sanctions imposed on Russia (theoretically as a result of its inevitable protection of its only warm water port, but probably imposed because the US became offended by Russia supporting Syria,) along with the Russian impatience with Ukraine taking unpaid gas out of the Russian gas pipeline crossing Ukraine, has “sparked” a Russian reaction. The Russian response was undoubtedly amplified by the EU reluctance to entertain a Russian Gas Pipeline that could bypass Ukraine through Bulgaria, making the EU a unfriendly neighbor under the influence of the US.
The Russians have announced they will build a pipeline into Turkey, and deliver all gas through that pipeline in seven years. For the Russians this is sensible as it stops the Ukraine stealing gas destined for paying customers in Europe, and forces the US-leaning government in Ukraine to confront the uncomfortable result that in seven years they will need to buy their gas at market prices. Simultaneously, it forces Europe to focus on building their own pipeline(s) through mountainous territory to Turkey in a relatively short time. An onerous task, to be sure.
Russia is no longer dependent on a single customer. They have Europe and China. Thus the power in the relationship moves to the supplier, Russia, because there are two large customers for their gas.
- Ukraine will be rewarded for the loyalty it showed to its Russian neighbor when it chose to become a US vassal, and will have to pay market prices for its gas from its woeful economy. No more free gas from the pipeline, either.
- While there is a significant potential penalty as payback for Europe’s slavish devotion to US foreign policy over Ukraine, Putin is also dangling a carrot to Europe – any European countries that have the courage to abandon the old in favor of the new can become the Western End of the new Pan Eurasia. Those that don’t join may freeze in the dark. Eurasia doesn’t need Europe as much as Europe needs Eurasia, so it should be an easy choice to make.
- The US’ leverage over Europe and Ukraine is weakened by the prospects of Russia turning the European Heat and Light off. (See 2, above.)
Russia plays chess, and thinks many moves ahead. The US plays Poker and focuses on the current hand. Long-term strategy wins in the important games. Losing, embarrasses the losers, and makes them more desperate.
Falling from the greatest GDP to Second place is a mark of not being exceptional. Would focusing on ones failings at home, and stopping flailing about abroad with very detrimental effects be a better course of action?