Quarta-feira, 14 de Julho de 2010

Why poking the ‘bear’ in the summer will freeze Georgia in the winter

By Vasco Martins

 

Konstantin Rozhnov, a business analyst at the BBC reports the Georgian parliament is approving a draft law to privatize a gas pipeline carrying Russian gas to Armenia. According to Pavle Kubashvili, the pipeline "will not be sold to the Russian Federation", a move which will certainly anger Russian gas tycoons. Georgia already pays more for 1000 cubic meters of gas than any other Gazprom client. This decision will only significantly increase the already enormous price Georgia already pays for gas supply.

Gazprom has in the past increased gas prices as an attempt to control foreign pipelines and energy companies in the former Soviet space, as it did with Belarus and the Ukraine. This draft law will be deserving of Russian response, which will most likely increase the price Georgia pays for gas. Consequently, as the country is unable to pay the ‘new’ bill, Russia will propose to trade its gas debt for stakes in Georgia’s energy industry and pipeline matrix, at the peril of cutting the entire flow of gas.

Georgia continues to rely on the US to protect its interests from Russia. Proof of this is the fact that the draft law was discussed by the time US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in the country, assuring Georgia and other former Soviet states the US will not cease to support their plight. Nevertheless, the US is not in a position, nor has it been in the last 10 years, to meddle in Russian-Georgian energy issues.

This draft law will certainly spark another energy conflict between the two countries, which makes the result all too obvious.

 

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