Q Club

Kremlin’s Energy Militarism and PaxPutiniana

Center for Global Studies «Strategy XXI»
What is behind Zhirinovsky’ letters?

Europe for the first time after the Second world war is on the brink of new large-scale armed conflict. Russia by its actions against Ukraine demonstrates to the world not only its readiness to destroy the foundamentals of the world order, consolidated almost forty years ago in the Helsinki Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, but also to create a new world order — PaxPutiniana. Kremlin assigns itself a part of liquidator of «the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century — disintegration of the USSR,» and the role of the global gamechanger and postmonopolar policy maker in the world. Confirmation of the Kremlin 's geopolitical orientation is in the words of Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin on March, 19 at the extended board meeting of Rosoboronzakaz : “The return of the Crimea and Sevastopol to Russia means the end of a unipolar world . “
As yet let's leave aside the analysis about whether Kremlin will manage to do it , will there be enough resources in Russia for this, what would be with Russia itself , etc. To date it is worth to proceed from the fact that the Kremlin has decided : ” It is just the right time for Russia to act “« Russian Spring» is being transformed into «Putin's march». The method of «Putin's March» is simple: to advance, while the West comprehends; to grab, while the West is outraged; to create a new reality , while the West is in the old one.
New reality is the Eurasian Union, which prioritized creation till 2015 is fixed in one of Putin’s first decrees «On measures to implement the foreign policy of the Russian Federation» from May 7, 2012.
The method of «Putin's March» gives one, but the overriding advantage — Russia will always be a step ahead of the Western world which is not able to rethink quickly the realities and certainly not capable of rapid response. Especially when it is not about the distant United States but about the neighboring Europe which is in captivity of illusions about the perspective of the common economic space with Russia from Lisbon to Vladivostok, of the Russian energy for the European industry, the trade prospects of the leading EU countries from the partnership with Russia and personal benefits of a corrupt political elite and bureaucracy of Old Europe.
In fact, the Kremlin clearly realized that a carefully spinned web of corruption communications, which has been created since the late Soviet era and reinforced by Russia since the early 2000s, closely twined around the EU thanks to energy supplies ( largely , but not exclusively) , and will not allow the Brussels counteract Russia. Reaction will be verbal, but the real actions will be substituted with the action «on paper». «Paper tiger» of the EU did not frighten Russia. In addition, it acts primarily at the level of bilateral relations, for what it was always inclined by building a bypass solutions around Brussels. And here it has a success.
That will be enough to give an example of Slovakia, Prime Minister of which opposed the provision of assistance to Ukraine as well as economic sanctions against Russia. But Slovakia is a post-communist Europe. How deep the corruption octopus penetrated the traditional Western society will soon be seen on the example of «Firtash case» in Austria. If he will not be extradited to the United States and finally, they would give him the opportunity to leave Austria, this means that the EU has created and successfully operates a perfect system of corruption-in-law . We can assume that U.S. examines the Old Europe by the «Firtash case».
But the U.S. itself has serious problems. Shale gas revolution and an abundance of cheap energy resources have turned the U.S. economy very attractive for investment, which led not only to overcomnig the crisis of 2008—2009, but to reindustrialization. Never the less America is weakened politically.
Some Russian think tanks specializing in the U.S and Canada have made the confidential assessment for Kremlin. The key point of this assessment is that the U.S. of the Obama’s period is weak more than ever. In all probability U.S next president will be of Ronald Reagan level and will reassign to the state the role of global playmaker. According to some close-to-Kremlin analysts, in 2014 Europe “will be in disassembled condition”: elections to the European Parliament, formation of the new European Commission composition. Taking into account the abovementioned problems of the U.S and Europe, NATO will turn out to be a broke mechanism. Therefore, Russia has a unique chance to profit by the U.S.’, Europe’s and NATO’s weakness.

In our express-analysis from December 16, 2013: http://geostrategy.org.ua/ua/analitika/item/253-ekspress-analiz-potochnoyi-situatsiyi-v-ukrayini-ta-navkolo-#5-16-grudnya&Itemid=146 among other, has been mentioned:
«If the EU, U.S. and NATO turn out to be incapable to implement the deterrence policy to Russia (not only concerning the Ukrainian question), it could lead to the new war in Europe as soon as in 2014 »
Now it is possible to state: “EU, U.S and NATO have already turned out to be incapable to implement the deterrence policy to Russia. The war is almost unavoidable”. What is the key plot of the Russians now? At initial stage Russia itself violated the basic principles of the UN, the OSCE, bilateral treaties, security guaranties within the Budapest Memorandum by its intervention in Ukraine, separation and annexation of Crimea. But now Russia launches the encouragement mechanisms for other states to follow its example. It is not a question of such states like Syria, the North Korea that supported Russia’s hostilities towards Ukraine, but it is about to launch a chain reaction of destroying the established world order from the side of other actors. This is not about the United States that by the Kosovo precedent in 2008 opened a Pandora's box in Europe and showed to Putin how one could act, so he took advantage of the same in 2008 in relation to Georgia. We are talking about Europe, bordering Ukraine — Romania, Hungary, Poland, as well as Serbia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus.
Kremlin using “soft power” has already sent the appropriate messages to the policy makers of these states. Zhirinovsky’ letters are only reflection of this underlying process, which is not so definite as the negative public reaction of the officials.
1. Russia will not oppose if Romania annexes the territories of Moldova’s right-bank and Chernovtsy region of Ukraine and moreover it will not oppose by the parity of reasoning the annexation of the South of Ukraine including the Snake Island and Transnistria.
2. Russia will not oppose if Hungary “gives back” Transcarpatia under the pretext of protection the Hungarian minority. In addition, Russia will be ready “by the parity of reasoning” to support Hungary in the issues of Hungarian ethnic territories in Romania and Slovakia.
3. Russia will not oppose against this or that form of Polish protectorate under “its eastern territories” under the condition of keeping the status-quo of the Kaliningrad enclave.
4. Russia will assist to Serbia to return under its control Kosovo in exchange of Serbia’s refuse to enter the EU and joining the CSTO with the deployment of the Limited contingent of Russian troops on its national territory.
5. Russia will support annexation of the Nagorno-Karabakh with its nationalization by Armenia.
6. Azerbaijan can count on the non-objection from the Russian side, if Baku resorts to force in restoring Azerbaijani status-quo of the NKAO.
7. Belarus must assist to the Russian troops in their invasion in Ukraine from the North not only by providing the services of the military infrastructure of the RB, but also by the armed contingent, which will be included to the personnel of the Russian intervention group. Such assistance will be a guarantee for A. Lukashenko to prolong his twenty years long presidency.
Thus, the further action of the Russia concerning rejection of the South of Ukraine according to the Kremlin’s plan should not cause the consolidation against Russia, but on the contrary should lead to the desire of individual countries — Romania and Hungary -to protect their compatriots in a decaying country descending into chaos. On the other side it will lead to the desire of other countries — Armenia, Azerbaijan , Serbia — to restore historical justice , as they understand it . Thus, the number of those who advocate the principles of Helsinki perforce will be their destroyers, playing on the Russian side, and Russia also will «set them at loggerheads».
Russia also has the intention to involve in the resolving of the «Ukrainian question» satellite countries — members of the Tashkent pact. No wonder, in the already abovementioned decree of the president of Russia from May 7, 2012, the strengthening of the CSTO is fixed among the priorities. It can be admitted that in case of further invasion in Ukraine together with troops of the Russian Armed Forces the troops of Armed Forces of Belarus will be sent here. Kazakhstan would be compelled to provide financial support to Russian troops in Ukraine under the pretext of «protecting the forefront of the CSTO». All this together will strengthen the chaos in Europe and over a period of time it will be not so important «who began first».
Energy and Pipelines aspects
Traditionally, the Russian foreign policy focuses on energy, which for Moscow «is more than a commodity.» In the West, few people gave adequate importance to the thesis from the preamble of the first edition of the Energy Strategy of Russia, which was introduced by V. Putin on 28 August, 2003. This is clearly fixed there that «Russia has considerable reserves of energy resources and powerful fuel and energy complex, which is the base of the economic development and a tool of foreign and national policy»
In addition, remained unnoticed correction in 2012 of the ways and methods in order to achieve the fixed goals of recreation of neoSSSR in the form of the Eurasian Union:
“… the most robust design of the supranational union is not a single economic or customs area without common political values, but infrastructure of connections, particularly energy infrastructure…Abovementioned is true and applicable for the Eurasian Union project, the backbone of which can and should be energy infrastructure. «
Hence — so much attention to energy and pipelines. This is important not only for Russia in the former Soviet space, but also in the all-European one. An awareness of importance of noted above in Brussels, Washington, Warsaw, Budapest and Bucharest for Russian policy responds to the question whether the promise of the Kremlin to „share“ the territory of Ukraine is real. One should take into account that the Ukrainian territory comprises the most important gas and oil transportation infrastructure, created in Soviet times for energy supplies from Russia to Europe and now the value of it is more important in the context of the Eurasian Union.
Now Russia’s „soft diplomacy“ aimed at Russian leading oil and gas multinational corporations. The calculation is simple: large-scale, long-term projects with the Russian state companies „Gazprom“ and „Rosneft“ in the framework of hydrocarbon extraction in the Arctic must become „non-failure offer“ for companies such as ExxonMobil, Total, Shell, Chevron, etc. In their turn influential MNC have to lobby at the governmental level in the U.S., EU, international organizations, a refuse to strict policy towards Russia.
Apart is the project „South Stream“, for which the Kremlin had high hopes, trying with the help of crisis in Ukraine to demonstrate the need for Europe to give it a „green light“. Now, after the occupation of the Crimea, the options for optimizing the route of South Stream are being prepared in Moscow. We have already mentioned earlier in our analysis from 27 February, 2014 (see “Gas Subtexts of the Crimean Crisis” )), that the other options exist for modernization of the South Stream but they require the change in the project starting position — of the Russkaya compressor station on the Black Sea shore, where the erection work with equipment installation have already begun. Although over time the contradictions aroused concerning the intention to change the project route, these contradictions ringed out not from the Gazprom, but from the one of the stockholders with the 15% share in the Wintershall: «The route is optimal and we see no reasons to change it. The territory close to Ukraine is more active in sense of tectonism, so to track the route in these waters is more dangerous technologically. It is not reasonable from the economic and technological point of view».
Now it has become obvious that the “other routes” are considered nevertheless, and at that very feverishly in coordination with the abovementioned political proposals. But is remains unknown, for what extent the options with the change of route will be taken into account, regarding that the EU more than ever have a negative attitude to the project itself.
The indirect confirmation of the possible changes is the announcement about the refuse to accomplish the wide range of works in the framework of the docking to sea section of South Stream land module, to which the Center of the East Gas Analysis has paid attention (see )). This means that the essential corrections included in the course of realization of the project take the place. Now they have the following form:
— straightening of the route across the Black Sea from Anapa to Varna (since it is believed that the Russian exclusive maritime economic zone after the annexation of the Crimea gives the possibility to do it);
— bifurcation of the route – except the direction to Bulgaria could occur the direction to Romania (see schema below).
Actually, Romanian direction have already appeared at the time when the Bulgarian government demonstrated intransigence with Gazprom. Now it is about to „appease“ Romania and to»reward ” it with gas transit for the adoption of the Russian plan for Moldova and Bukovina . Actually, if you remember the famous ” Lavrov Program ” («Program of effective systemic use of foreign policy factors for long-term development of the Russian Federation» , 2010) , the Romanian direction played an important role there :
«To promote the consolidation of Russian business in strategic sectors of the Romanian economy , primarily in the energy industry < ... > to boost cooperation in the gas sector , including the provision of Russian gas transit through the territory of Romania, construction and use of underground gas storage facilities in the Romanian territory. Contribute to the implementation of joint projects in the energy field».
Particular attention is paid to Hungary. One should pay attention to Putin's remarks about the preferences for Hungary in its cooperation with Russia in the energy sector , voiced during Prime-minister V.Orbana to Moscow January 14, 2014 : ” Today's agreement provides for the construction of two new reactors , and already today the NPP Paks produces 40 percent of electricity in Hungary… This is a unique agreement because more than 40 percent of the volume of work provided just on the Hungarian side . This would mean that approximately $3 bln. will be spent on maintaining jobs in Hungary, and only tax revenues will exceed $1 bln. We talked about traditional energy, and exchanged views on joint work within the project «South Stream» .

It worth to take into account that the Serbian and Hungarian sections are inviolable. Obviously a special approach to these countries is demonstrated in virtue of the role they should play according to the Kremlin’s plan.
However, it seems the new version of the «South Stream» may remain on paper. Statements of the loyal to Russia Italian Gazprom’s partner ENI are very symptomatic. ENI CEO Paolo Scaroni said: «I see a pretty bleak future for the project South Stream bypassing gas supply through Ukraine. I believe that the European authorities may question the permission to build a pipeline.»
Moreover he remained that the project TAP will provide Italy with the new source of gas from Azerbaijan (see http://www.vedomosti.ru/companies/news/24273801/italiya-obojdetsya-bez-rossijkogo-gaza-a-u-yuzhnogo-potoka#ixzz2wpeEIj40
V. Putin’s muff on the «South Stream» is becoming increasingly evident. Europe is better to abandon the project, which is still on paper than the gas supplies from Russia. In addition, the rejection of the project wiil hit numerous contractors of «Gazprom» in Russia, which now sell docking modules for «South Stream» in terms of the Southern Corridor. In fact, it is more effective than some «paper sanction» of Brussels. At least 22% of kickbacks will not be received by the surrounding of Putin (see «Gazprom» — 22% “: )
An optimism of P. Scaroni regarding Azerbaijani gas is clearly premature. Russia is oriented to the fact that this gas sould not enter the EU market or will come under Russian control. To this end NJSC «Rosneft is actively promoted in the Azerbaijani gas production projects» . The result would be that the gas seems to be from an independent source but will be under the control of the company, which is to the beginning of the supply of Azerbaijani gas to Europe in 2019 could become number one in Russia. The principle is simple: ” Karabakh to Azerbaijan in exchange for gas to Europe under the control of Russia . ” It should be noted that the supplier number one for armament in Azerbaijan is Russia , which supplies 80 % of the total procured weapons , most of which — offensive system . RF stimulates Azerbaijan for a military solution of the Karabakh problem.

The same policy is implemented and in relation to Armenia. That is, both sides pushed for the resumption of the conflict that would destabilize the South Caucasus as a result of freezing and Caspian gas production projects. Caspian Gas, as well as the Black Sea shelf gas competes with traditional gas flows from Russia. Therefore, a competitor must be either eliminated or taken under the control. In the case of the Caspian gas Armenian version provides for eliminating of the competitor, while the Azerbaijani one gives the control over it.
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The Kremlin has a symbolic intention to complete the «Ukrainian campaign» till May 9. Its plan includes «hoisting the banner of victory in Kiev, as a symbol of victory over neo-fascism , and not only in Ukraine» Like, the USSR defeated fascism in 1945 , and Russian would defeat neo-fascism in Ukraine in 2014. Further it will be necessary to clean up Europe from the neo-fascist to the 70th anniversary of the Great Victory . Fascists in Europe will be Romanians, Hungarians and others who occupied part of the territory of the former USSR (Bukovina, Transcarpathia) . Is it fiction? On the background of what is happening with Ukraine for 4 month , it looks like a multivariate , but real plan of the Kremlin game changer, who imagines himself the supreme arbiter of nations and peoples. Its end will be inglorious. Resource Analysis shows that its end will be also fast, but under one condition — the consolidated actions of the U.S., NATO and the EU. Although for the EU there is little hope, it is more dead than alive. We may be witnessing the collapse of not only Russia, but also the EU, which is unable to respond to the challenge of Kremlin energy militarism and allowed PaxPutiniana to see the light with the help of the European money.