Ukrainian interest. Long-awaited sanctions, bargaining Putin, and taming of Gazprom
Ukraine imposed sanctions against Russian businesses and individuals, as well as some foreigners, actively involved in the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and in destabilization in Donbas. The Russian president is trying to sell to the world community the recipe of Syrian conflict settlement, for his own benefit. Gazprom and Naftogaz unexpectedly brought their negotiating positions closer together ahead of the heating season.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed a decree, introducing a decision by National Security and Defense Council on sanctions against Russian businesses and individuals, and some other foreign citizens. However, it did not all go smooth: the sanctions hit an impressive group of foreign journalists, and the president had to personally lift the sanctions against them shortly. Russia pledged not to impose retaliation measures following the Ukrainian sanctions, according to Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko, although the process of discrimination against the Ukrainian goods by the Russian customs authorities had begun long before the Euromaidan protest even started.
George Soros has called on the European Union to support Ukraine, noting that it would be a good investment.
In this case the sanctions are more of a political, rather than purely economic, nature, given Ukraine’s need to demonstrate readiness to suffer certain damages, along with the West. Meanwhile, the European Union has quietly extended its sanctions against Russia for another six months. Washington has also pledged it’s ready to extend sanctions against the Kremlin if Moscow does not take a strategic decision on Donbas, according to Victoria Nuland. George Soros has called on the European Union to support Ukraine, noting that it would be a good investment.
But the Kremlin’s masterminds are also making active use of the available resources. While Moscow radiates peacefulness, the Russian puppet Aleksandr Zakharchenko [leader of the self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic] announced “local elections” in the militant-held territory of Donetsk region on October 18. It is clear that such a scenario makes impossible the implementation of the Minsk Agreements.
Russia is also skillfully shifting international attention. The Kremlin leaders obviously see the UN General Assembly which opened this week as an opportunity to voice their political position. Even if Barack Obama is reluctant to meet with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president still intends to speak from the UN rostrum. Russian diplomats say that he will focus on the common fight against the Islamic State, and this is exactly the pretext Russia has been using to increase its military presence in Syria. At the CSTO summit Vladimir Putin expressed concern about the growing tensions around the globe and stressed that Russia is ready to take active part in the fight against terrorists. But the thing is that the U.S. and other Western powers are in no hurry to accept this offer from a Russian bear.
Russian energy monopoly Gazprom recognized the impossibility of implementation of the Turkish stream pipeline project. Following the collapse of the South Stream, this is another Russian defeat in the energy confrontation.
There is reason to expect that the 2015-2016 heating season will not be troublesome for Ukraine and the EU.
Of course, Gazprom is expecting to compensate for losses due to the launch of Nord Stream-2 pipeline, but it is forced to appear lily-white. For this reason, the company's Chairman of the Board Alexei Miller held talks with Andriy Kobolev, head of Naftogaz, who called the dialogue constructive. There is reason to expect that the 2015-2016 heating season will not be troublesome for Ukraine and the EU. That, however, does not negate the need to diversify energy sources and introduce energy saving technologies.