by Michael Smith
What Russia is doing with regards to the issue over the gas transiting via the Ukraine is too let Western Europe and the West as a whole know that unless we in the West play ball they way Russia wants as regards the former Soviet Republics and such like issues then they may turn off the gas.
This is the second time that this has happened with regards to Russian gas on its way to Western Europe via the gas pipeline that goes through the now independent former Soviet Republic of Ukraine.
I do sincerely doubt, however, that it would be any different would the gas be going a different route, direct to the West through, say, Poland or the still Moscow line following Belarus.
This issue over the gas for heating and industry coming from Russia shows that we are all, all our countries, people and infrastructure, in problems as we can be held to ransom that easily.
Holding the West to ransom over the issue of the gas is exactly what Russia is doing and this will not be the last time that that is going to happen, of that we can be sure.
This is no way to run a railroad and certainly no way to run a country. We must have self-sufficiency, as far as possible at least, in matters of energy, whether this be gas, oil or what-have-you. We cannot be allowed to be held to ransom by then like of the oligarchs and the FSB of Russia nor by others.
The Ukraine, in my opinion, also has a part in this ransom business, though on a different level.
While Russia appears to be using the gas as a lever so that Europe and the West reconsider their ideas of letting the Ukraine into NATO and the EU, the Ukraine is playing the game the other ways around basically saying “you can get your gas if you make us member of NATO and the EU”. This is, at least, how I read both sides and, as far as we all should be concerned we should tell the Ukraine to go to h**l if that is their attitude and at that same time, unfortunately as it may be, give in to the more-or-less unspoken request by the Russian Federation and General Putin to not let the Ukraine join any of those western clubs.
I have to say as well, and I wonder how many other people may just wonder the same, why we, in fact, are even thinking of incorporating the likes of the Ukraine into NATO and eventually also the EU.
The orange revolution, as it is often called, certainly was not democracy the way we see it here, and the leadership of the Ukraine is not as benign as they are made out. However, as in the case of the likes of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, both regimes with difficult human rights records and such, the USA and other NATO allies call them their friends because it is possible to have bases in their countries that are very close to Iran. Oil is a catalyst here, yet again. Black gold. But I digressed.
The West, those that do not have any of that kind of Black Gold, or gas, will nevertheless have to find a way to become independent from the oil fields of the Iran and other such countries in the same way as they have to become independent from the gas fields of Russia and other such locations.
There are ways and means of doing that and there are countries that can show the way in this as well., However, oil (and gas0 still are king when it comes to heating and cooking in the western world and especially the use of the motorcar is a contributing factor.
As it, however, shows again and again, countries that depend on such raw materials from abroad can be held to ransom at the whim of a leader of a country or by other means. Russia is not the only country that has or can have the West of a barrel like this.
Therefore, in order to protect our nations' infrastructure we must look for way of becoming, if not entirely than largely, independent from such sources and imports.
Can Russia be trusted?
The answer is a no and a yes and it depends on the angle from which one views it. Russia, and that is the problem, trusts no one and never ever will. Long story and maybe one for a separate article, methinks.
Our infrastructure needs independence from sources such as Russian gas or oil from the Persian Gulf and such locations.
How to get that done? Let's get our thinking caps on.
© M Smith (Veshengro), January 2009