Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Russia's Dependence on Ukraine Is Tied to Energy Export Goals Comment

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Russia's Dependence on Ukraine Is Tied to Energy Export Goals Comment

Article excerpt

The death and abomination that is going on in Ukraine should be blamed on the greed of some corrupt Russian officials and Russia's dependence on the oil and natural gas industry.

As the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia's south wind down -- marred by graft allegations and by a bloody conflict in nearby Ukraine -- Russia's kleptocrats are looking to the north, gearing up for an exploration of the Arctic that would make what happened in Sochi look like dime-store shoplifting.

In Sochi, Kremlin-affiliated businessmen have made off with what experts believe to be most of the $51 billion it took Russia to build up the necessary infrastructure and host the games, more than four times the $12 billion originally planned, which would not be possible without Russia's energy cash cow.

In Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has used the country's dependence on Russian natural gas supplies and a promise of a $15 billion bailout to have Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych abandon plans of economic integration with the European Union and crack down on the opposition. Russia depends on its natural gas lines running through Ukraine to export Russia's natural gas to Europe. Besides, it is Mr. Putin's widely known fear that a revolution in Ukraine could be a precursor of a revolution in Russia that he might not survive.

This move is the catalyst behind the clashes this week in Ukraine's capital city of Kiev, in which at least 26 people have been killed. Also dependent on Russian energy supplies, the European Union largely stood idly by as the conflict in Ukraine -- where more than half of the 45 million population is pro-Western -- turned bloody as Mr. Yanukovych stepped up his attempts to crush the protests in return for the Moscow bailout.

Enter the North Pole, which crowns the Arctic that experts say may account for as much as 20 percent of the world's recoverable oil and natural gas resources yet to be discovered.

Unparalleled since the Soviet industrialization in the 1930s, the project presents an opportunity beyond the dreams of avarice for Mr. Putin's cronies to further plunder Russia. …

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