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Monday, November 06, 2006

The Georgia Test Case

Despite hypocritically insisting that the U.S. and Europe not impose sanctions on Russian allies like Iran and Hamas and Hezebollah, Russia has no hesitation in imposing sanctions on its enemies, like Georgia. The Moscow Times reports below that state-controlled Gazprom plans to double the rate Georgia pays for heating gas, just as winter begins, a tactic Russia has already tried to bludgeon Ukraine.

The Russian people themselves have already been tested on Georgia, and failed miserably. This so-called "friend" of theirs was immediately sold down the river as soon as it dared to show any signs of independence from the Kremlin's jackboot, including even the use of pogroms. When push came to shove, the Russian stabbed their so-called friend in the back, or stood silently by allowing others to do so. How these same Russians can complain about American influence in the world is simply bizarre.

So now it's the West's turn. The amount of money it will take to make up the difference between what Georgia used to pay for gas and what Gazprom now expects it to pay is pocket change for the Europe and America. We can either take that change out of our pocket and give it to Georgia, and show we've learned something from our experience with the Soviet Union, or we can do the same thing we did in the past as the neo-Soviet Union rises, sit slack-jawed watching the disaster unfold until suddenly there are missiles in Venezuela. The choice is ours.

A source in the article is quoted as stating: "Russia is correct when it says that if Georgia and Ukraine want a Western orientation, they should pay market prices." Absolutely true. But it's also true that if Russia wants a Soviet orientation, it also must pay the price. The U.S. and Europe can make it far hotter it Russia's kitchen than Russia can make it cold in Georgia's, as Europe has recently shown by starting to ban Russian travel (see post above). Russia's economy is a feeble, hollow sham that simply cannot stand up to Western pressure. It can't even get soccer players to their matches. Russia wants cold war II? Bring it.

Gazprom said Thursday that it would more than double its gas price to Georgia as talks between the two sides' foreign ministers failed to resolve the simmering monthlong dispute. "I cannot call the talks a breakthrough," Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili told reporters after a meeting in Moscow with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The talks were the first at a senior level since relations between the two countries broke down in late September. The gas price hike would severely affect Georgia, which is already struggling under a full travel and trade blockade imposed after Tbilisi expelled four Russian military officers it accused of spying.

If Gazprom gets its way, Georgia will start paying $230 per 1,000 cubic meters starting in January -- more than twice the $110 it currently pays. If agreed, the price would be the highest for any former Soviet republic so far. "Russia must show us the formula by which they got this price. We must know where this price came from and why it is the same as Western Europe's," Bezhuashvili said, Interfax reported. "We have suggested a price of $230, but this is not the end of talks," a Gazprom spokesman said. "The negotiation process is continuing."

A spokeswoman for the Georgian Energy Ministry said it had received no official notification from Gazprom. Ina Mdivana, spokeswoman for Georgian gas importer Energy Invest, said the company had also received no notice, and that negotiations were due to wrap up in December.Gazprom's announcement raised the specter of last winter's dispute with Ukraine, when Gazprom briefly shut the flow of gas to Ukraine in an effort to force the country into accepting the $230 price tag one year after the election of pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko. Bezhuashvili said he had gotten "an assurance from the Russian side that gas and electricity will not be cut off. "I do hope there is less politics in these gas prices than commercial logic," he added.

Gazprom has long been seeking to end subsidies to its former Soviet neighbors, but often seizes upon political disputes to push the deals through, analysts said. "The decision itself is commercial," said Tanya Costello, an analyst with Eurasia Group. "The pace at which CIS countries have been pushed to paying higher prices has depended on the political relationship with Moscow." Yet she added that "the attention Gazprom pays to Georgia doesn't fit with the size of the Georgian market, so that does suggest political motivation." Georgia represents one of Gazprom's smallest markets, importing just 1.3 billion cubic meters of gas per year. Germany and Ukraine take in over 37 bcm each. Relations between Moscow and Tbilisi began their downward spiral with the January 2004 election of President Mikheil Saakashvili, a decidedly pro-Western politician who has sought to extract his country from Russia's grip and hopes to have it join NATO by 2008. The new price will be "the price we pay for our choice," Bezhuashvili said.

Gazprom was reported last month by Georgian officials to have asked for from $170 to $250 for 2007. If agreed, the $230 price would put Georgia on a par with Gazprom's customers in Europe, who pay from $230 to $250 for their gas. Countries with more pro-Moscow policies pay significantly less. Belarus, for example, pays just $47. Standard & Poor's forecast that effects of the price increase would be "modest," shaving 1.1 percentage point off Georgian gross domestic product in 2007. Georgia had "expected such a hike and taken precautionary measures to ensure alternative sources of gas are available," the rating agency said in a research note.

Bezhuashvili said Tbilisi was in talks with Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran on replacing its Russian supply. Gazprom provides the bulk of Georgia's gas, supplying 1.3 bcm per year to the country, which has an annual demand from 1.5 and 1.8 bcm. Georgia first began looking abroad last January, after explosions at a pipeline in North Ossetia disrupted gas shipments and highlighted the country's reliance on Russian gas. Georgian officials accused Russia of orchestrating the explosions, a charge rejected by Moscow. During that dispute, Georgia increased imports from Azerbaijan and took emergency supplies from Iran.

"Russia's tendency to use energy sources as a political instrument against Georgia meets strong opposition ... thus delivery of gas to Georgia by Gazprom becomes less attractive," the Georgian Energy Ministry said in an annual report published in May. Georgia currently gets 400 million cubic meters of gas per day from Azerbaijan. That amount is due to jump next year by about 300 million cubic meters next year, with the completion of the South Caucasus Pipeline from Baku to Erzerum in eastern Turkey, which passes through Georgia. The current standoff -- which has seen thousands of Georgians deported from Moscow, and rail, air and postal links cut -- has provoked international rebuke.

Yet analysts warned that the outcry seen during Ukraine's pricing dispute, which helped bring a swift resolution to the crisis, was unlikely to be repeated in the case of Georgia. "Europe will not be affected, so this won't raise the same questions regarding Russia's reliability as a gas supplier," said Costello of Eurasia Group. Ukraine acts as a major transit route to Europe, while pipelines through Georgia carry Russian gas to Armenia. Ukraine refused to cede to Gazprom's demands in late 2005 that it pay $230 per 1,000 cubic meters, a significant increase from the $50 it had been paying. The two sides eventually settled on a price of $95, but not until after Ukraine saw its supplies briefly cut in the middle of winter. Bezhuashvili said that while talks failed to defuse the crisis, the two sides had agreed to "calm down the belligerent rhetoric."
"The two countries are ready to sit down and engage in a dialogue. That is good news," he said.

The Kremlin "has made it pretty clear that Gazprom will eventually be getting all its customers to pay market price," said Chris Weafer, chief strategist at Alfa Bank. "But ultimately, the pace at which they're allowed to do that is a political decision." James Nixey, an analyst on Russia and the CIS at London-based think tank Chatham House, agreed. "Russia is correct when it says that if Georgia and Ukraine want a Western orientation, they should pay market prices," Nixey said. "But even if there is a good economic position behind it, the key factor is always political."

Yet Gazprom is also facing price hikes of its own. Both Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have recently said they would raise their gas export prices to Russia from $55 to $100 starting Jan. 1. Despite its standing as the world's largest gas company, Gazprom has to import gas from neighboring republics to meet its supply commitments as development of new fields lags. Analysts warned that tough negotiations lay ahead. "I think this will lead to cutoffs because Georgia is not ready to pay so much," said Vladimir Milov, head of the Institute of Energy Policy.

"The prices are being determined by the Kremlin, they can't be market prices in principle," he said. "That the Europeans agree to pay such high prices is their choice -- they have an alternative."

9 comments:

17 ugly raccoons said...

including even the use of pogroms

Pogrom (from Russian: погром; from "громить" IPA: [grʌˈmitʲ]- to wreak havoc, to demolish violently) is a form of riot, a massive violent attack on a particular group; ethnic, religious or other, primarily characterized by destruction of their environment (homes, businesses, religious centers). Usually pogroms are accompanied with physical violence against the targeted people and even murders, in some cases to the degree of massacre. The term has historically been used to denote massive acts of violence, either spontaneous or premeditated, against Jews, but has been applied to similar incidents against other, mostly minority, groups.

Well, miss bliss, now try to defend your point about 'pogroms' by presenting of things defined above happening with Georgians in Russia.

You already failed miserably with idea of 100 times difference between Russian an US workers salary, it is time for next round of your shame.

La Russophobe said...

UGLY:

If you are interested in giving even a slight appearance of intelligence (which I doubt) you will confine yourself to the topic of the post you are commenting on. This post is about Russia cutting of heating gas to Georgia as the winter begins, and you are talking about pogroms. This just make you look like the utter imbecile that you are. Generally speaking, I'll ignore this kind of moronic propaganda.

But I'll indulge you right now, just to show how reasonable I can be.

Thanks for confirming that Russians invented the word pogrom, it's one of the things Russians have to be most most ashamed of in their history.

Thanks also for confirming that a pogrom need not include actual violence but simply "usually" or "traditionally" does.

It's clear you don't have children (like most Russians, with their dying population), so you don't understand that the kind of "violence" associated with making lists of childrens' names is much greater for a parent than punching them in the face. Probably Russians will never undertand that, and thus become extinct.

If you think that the fact that Russians haven't actually started killing the Georgians in large numbers or conducting attacks on them like they did against the Chechens at Kondopoga somehow makes the Georgians feel better, it's obvious you've never spoken to a Georgian either, which is not suprising given Russia's national campaign of hatred against them.

Read some history sometime. Hitler didn't round up Jews and send them to the gas chamber on the first day. He had to launch a propaganda campaing first to turn the population fully against them, such as is going on on Russian TV now, calling Georgian a race of criminals. Only later can the killing begin.

17 ugly raccoons said...

you are talking about pogroms

Sorry, it was you who started rant about including even the use of pogroms, so I am on topic.

Thanks for confirming that Russians invented the word pogrom, it's one of the things Russians have to be most most ashamed of in their history.

For inventing the word? Are you sure? Do you know *anything* of history of such riots on the West?

Thanks also for confirming that a pogrom need not include actual violence but simply "usually" or "traditionally" does.

So you are admitting there was no acts of 'actual violence' against Georgians as a minority. Good.

It's clear you don't have children (like most Russians, with their dying population), so you don't understand that the kind of "violence" associated with making lists of childrens' names is much greater for a parent than punching them in the face.

:-)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

So it not 'actual violence' but 'kind of violence'... You are desperate, eh? So, there was 'kind of pogrom' but not 'actual pogrom', and in your head there is 'kind of brain' not 'actual brain'?

You obviously not knew that Russia allows children of illegal migrants to learn in its schools, maintained by taxes which these illegals don't pay (do you have the same feat in US too?). So, when order came to detect *illegal* migrants there were letters sent to some schools to provide lists of Georgian names to *check* *if* their parents are legally here in Russia. And you call THAT 'violence' and 'pogrom'?! Then any gang-fight in some US ghetto is genocide and holocaust, no less.

If you think that the fact that Russians haven't actually started killing the Georgians in large numbers or conducting attacks on them like they did against the Chechens at Kondopoga somehow makes the Georgians feel better, it's obvious you've never spoken to a Georgian either, which is not suprising given Russia's national campaign of hatred against them.

So if there wasn't 'pogrom' but some Georgian illegal told you he *feels* like there was 'pogrom', then you'll state there was 'pogrom'? Don't you think it is a somewhat weak position to defend?

BTW, prove there is 'national campaign of hatred' towards Georgians in Russia. You know, if there is such thing, it should've been quite obvious in Russian official media. So, where are links to articles of respected Russian media outlets which inciting hatred against Georgians?

He had to launch a propaganda campaing first to turn the population fully against them, such as is going on on Russian TV now, calling Georgian a race of criminals.

OK, you said Russian TV calling Georgians 'race of criminals'. Prove it.

La Russophobe said...

UGLY:

So, let me get this straight. If Georgia starts doing to Slavs in Georgia exactly what Russia is doing to Georgians in Russia right now, that wont' be a pogrom according to you, right? And if Russians criticize that act the way I'm doing now, you'll say to them just what you're now saying to me, right?

Truly, your psychotic dishonesty knows no bounds.

"But the Russian media also bears enormous responsibility for making people deaf to Politkovskaya’s voice, just as it bears responsibility for fanning the xenophobia and intolerance which makes the Kremlin’s cold war against Georgia so accepted.:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/8754ab52-61ce-11db-af3e-0000779e2340.html

17 ugly raccoons said...

So, let me get this straight. If Georgia starts doing to Slavs in Georgia exactly what Russia is doing to Georgians in Russia right now, that wont' be a pogrom according to you, right?

Yes, of course, that won't be a pogrom. Problem is Georgians already expelled Russians (without pogroms) from their independent country. After that, they themselves came in Russia to parasite on it.

And if Russians criticize that act the way I'm doing now, you'll say to them just what you're now saying to me, right?

No, I'll say them 'pick our own from there and resettle them here in Russia, after that kick off Georgians from Russia and bomb Tbilisi'.

And what word from 'where are links to articles of respected Russian media outlets which inciting hatred against Georgians?' you not understood? Sorry, on your link there is just another groundless accusation from some dollar-sucker without any proof.

La Russophobe said...

UGLY:

I don't believe you. Prove it. Show me something you've published defending those who were making a race-based atttack on Slavs.

If you are accusing the Financial Times, I suggest you level your accusation directly at them. Meanwhile, hard as it may be for you to accept, I find the Financial Times far more credible than you.

Meanwhile, I'm curious: Just why exactly do you think I should "prove" to you what Russian TV is doing to Georgians right now? If I did, would you then become active in attacking the Russian racists and imperialists who are undertaking these attacks? Assuming you would do so, why should I think your attacks would make any difference?

Or are you such an egomaniac that you feel I should write a post just for your personal edification?

17 ugly raccoons said...

Show me something you've published defending those who were making a race-based atttack on Slavs.

I stated that there were NO race-based attack on Georgians as a minority (of course, you not disproved it) so your request is off-topic.

If you are accusing the Financial Times, I suggest you level your accusation directly at them. Meanwhile, hard as it may be for you to accept, I find the Financial Times far more credible than you.

Me? I asked you - I am repeating - to give me link from Russian official media (TV-transcript, newspaper article) which inciting hatred against Georgians. You didn't. So your statement about 'national campaign of hatred' towards Georgians in Russia is not proven. In other words, you are liar. If FT cannot prove these claims (and these weren't proved in the article you linked), they are liars too. Nothing too new for Western media... for any media, to be honest.

Just why exactly do you think I should "prove" to you what Russian TV is doing to Georgians right now?

There is a slight chance you'll admit you are lying. Just show me SINGLE material from official Russian media outlet inciting hatred to Georgians. You cannot do it. And I know about Russian TV a little more than you. You know, I am at least watching it sometimes.

If I did, would you then become active in attacking the Russian racists and imperialists who are undertaking these attacks?

Then I'll even shave my head and withdraw to monastery. Problem is, you cannot "prove".

Assuming you would do so, why should I think your attacks would make any difference?

So you do not want anyone help you in your crusade. Tsk, tsk, how petty.

Or are you such an egomaniac that you feel I should write a post just for your personal edification?

No-no, don't do it. Continue write posts only for your own reading (OMG, I wonder if she heard about projections...).

La Russophobe said...

UGLY:

What makes you think its of any benefit to me to have your head shaved or to have you withdraw to a monestary? I'm asking you to actively confront the attitude of Russian television in a specific manner.

Answer the question, don't dodge it like coward: If I document Russian television accusing Georgians of being a criminal race, what action will you take to publicly oppose their actions?

If you won't do anything, will you put $10,000 into an escrow account to be paid to me when I document what Russian television has done?

17 ugly raccoons said...

What makes you think its of any benefit to me to have your head shaved or to have you withdraw to a monestary?

My sense of humour.

If I document Russian television accusing Georgians of being a criminal race, what action will you take to publicly oppose their actions?

I'll take any bet just because GEORGIANS ARE NOT A RACE (criminal or not), so I can disprove ANY of your claim.

But if you'll document Russian television accusing Georgians of being something bad as a whole, then I'll post in my blog for my readers lenghty article about this and I'll call these accusations (and Kremlin sponsorship of these) anything you wish except words related to Russian nation as a whole (anyway I was going to do that).

So, conditions.

1. It should be direct from Russian television (or central newspaper), not from some Western reporter who heard it from other reporter who heard from third who doesn't know Russian language but understood from look on faces on the screen that these evil Russians are up to something.

2. It should be accusations against Georgians as a whole, not named individuals or groups and organizations lesser than Georgian nation (not race, I indulge you in that). 'Criminal\terrorist *state*' won't do because US has a habit to use such words and then it means US conducting 'campaign of hatred' toward one or other country on regular basis.

will you put $10,000 into an escrow account to be paid to me when I document what Russian television has done?

Where is your dignity? When average US worker is earning several thousand times more than his Russian counterpart, you are scurrying for such pityful sum? Are you so below average American?