Category Archives: russia

Russia and China’s friendship

Interesting article by Andrei Piontkovsky in Project Syndicate. He says that Russia’s foreign policy should be more pro-western and less pro-chinese, bc those are going to be the real enemies for Russia’s re-emergence.

Russia’s current diplomatic tilt, indeed, is clearly against its own long-term national security interests. China will never be interested in Russia’s economic and political modernization, for it prefers Russia to remain a source of mineral and energy resources and a vast “strategic rear” in its looming challenge with the United States. (…)

In fact, conflict between Russia and China is possible precisely in Central Asia, given the clear differences in the two countries’ economic and political interests in that region. Aside from control of the region’s energy supplies, water has become a potential source of conflict, given China’s serious shortages. Yet, while the Chinese clearly understand these contingencies and are preparing themselves to deal with them diplomatically and militarily, the Kremlin remains myopically obsessed with the phantom threat of America.

Thus, as the Kremlin dreams of re-establishing its domination over what Russians refer to as the “near abroad” (Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic countries, and the other post-Soviet states), China is increasingly looking at Russia as its own “near abroad.” Will the Kremlin finally wake up to this?

Thirty-six years ago, Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong turned world politics upside down, as both America and China realized that it was the Soviet Union, and not each other, that posed the greater threat. Vladimir Putin needs his own “Nixon moment.” Alienating the West is a foolish strategy when the greatest long term threat to Russia comes from the East.

I guess if the US and Europe have the same interest as the Chinese on Rusia. I don’t see the chinese threat to Russia or other neighbours in a military way, these threat is going to be much more ecomic and cultural. Maybe Russia should seek western support, but one also needs to ask if the West can recognise China as it’s rival and, much more difficult, if it would see Russia as a useful partner to deal with it.


Russia to claim the North Pole

We have seen it on the news:

and in Russia Today

or the BBC or the humorist Craig Ferguson on CBS and even the catalan TV3 did a great report about it.

Since it’s fundation Russia has been looking for a warm water port mainly for strategic but also for comercial reasons, but they couldn’t get it (not on the mediterranean, nor the Black Sea, nor the Pacific -Japan Sea-). So if the Russian empire couldn’t reach the warm water… now the warm water is reaching Russian ports.

From the rosurces point of view, the North Pole is melting down and it’s sea bed is rich (they even say 25% of worlds oil) so Russia is already claiming it.

From the comercial point of view it is interesting to note that the fastest route from Japan to UK is going to be through the North Pole (10 days shorter), so creating a new and ever faster Silk Road? And also underscoring the strategic comercial situation of Singapur or the Malacca Strait? Only a bit… probably.

Sakhalin Island’s oil and gas resources

Sakhalin Island’s oil and gas resources are being developed by international consortia. Sakhalin I’s oil production neared its maximum capacity of at 250,000 bbl/d in February 2007, and Sakhalin II produces oil for six months of the year at a rate of roughly 80,000 bbl/d. Other areas around Sakhalin Island are still in early stages of development.

General Background

Sakhalin Island, a former penal colony located off the east coast of Russia and to the north of Japan, holds vast hydrocarbon resources. Oil reserves in the area are estimated at almost 12 billion barrels, and natural gas reserves at approximately 90 trillion cubic feet. International consortia of energy companies have entered into production sharing agreements (PSAs) to develop the resources. Even though all of the consortia have extensive export plans (including to the United States) via LNG terminals and export pipelines to the mainland, there has been little progress except on the first two parts of Sakhalin Island: Sakhalin 1 and Sakhalin 2, which lie to the southeast of Okha (see map to the left, and for more detailed maps click on the project websites for Sakhalin 1 and Sakhalin II below)

Nato-ise the ABM

The deployment of just a dozen defensive missiles and a radar in Poland and Czech Republic to improve and enlarge the US shield to the east has generated a big controversy in Eastern Europe.
First bc Romania and Bulgaria were not included, second bc even if the US excuse is Iran, the Russians have felt threatened and third, and most interesting, bc of the split of the European reaction.

51% of the Polish said they didn’t want the missiles and only34 % of czechs think that the radar is a good idea, both are very antlantists. At the same time, France has not opposed the deployment while Merkel asks to Nato-ise (“otanizar”) the issue.

The article is from The Economist, “ A few interceptors, a big gap,” Mar 29th 2007 but I found it translated in the Economist China Organization, here I paste the best part of it.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, a Christian Democrat whose instincts are more Atlanticist than those of her coalition partners, has signalled through a spokesman that she wants to “NATO-ise” the issue of new missile defences.

作为对一起虚伪的争吵的恰当的回应,德国政治大师们也许已经发明了一种造作的解决方案——至少对于德国国内的困境而言是这样。一个比她的同盟伙伴有着更多大西洋主义者本能的基督教民主党人,司法官Angela Merkel通过发言人表示,她希望关于新导弹防御系统的争论能够“北约化”。

What does that mean?<Not much, in practice—but this ugly word reflects the political fact that to some European ears, the common deliberations, and ultimately common decisions, of NATO have a slightly softer, fuzzier sound than anything done unilaterally by the United States. NATO, after all, is a partnership in which all members, at least formally, have a say.

Others are now jumping aboard the “NATO-ising” bandwagon, including politicians in the Czech Republic, where a poll showed just 31% of voters in favour of the shield. According to the foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, many Czech legislators would find it much easier to support the installation if “it could be included somehow in the NATO system”.

In hard military reality, the new system cannot be included. The radars and interceptors will be built by America, and controlled by America, and deployed by bilateral agreement with the hosts. If people hope for a non-American, or NATO, finger on interceptor buttons, they will be let down. In Berlin earlier this month, General Obering was asked whether his system should be brought into NATO.<“I believe this system would complement NATO very nicely,” he replied carefully.

As it happens, NATO has for years been preparing for the more limited option of a theatre missile defence, which could indeed be jointly procured and managed by the alliance. But strategic interceptors, albeit few in number, are another matter: the Pentagon won’t share the keys with anyone.<This week, a Pentagon official stated, at a congressional hearing, that the need for unanimous decision-making in NATO made it the wrong place to decide how missile defences should be deployed.
>就 是这样,北约已经为战区导弹防御系统这一更为有限的选择准备了好多年,这个系统可以真正的实现连接并被盟国掌握。但是战略拦截器,虽然数量不多却是另外一 回事:五角大楼不愿与任何人分享关键部分。本周,一位五角大楼官员在国会听证会上表示,对于怎样部署导弹防御系统,北约盟国认为需要形成一致的决议是错误 的立场。

NATO and EU. The chinese wiew.

In Peoples Daily there is an interesting interview with three promminent chinese academics: Yang Yu, director of the EU Affairs Office of elite Nanjing University in east China’s Jiangsu Province, Prof. Wu Yikang with the World Economy Institute of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, and Shen Jiru, a researcher of the Institute of World Economies and Politics under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The main aim of the interview is to try to understand why NATO and EU are so different (if they are) but they have almost the same membership. And then, to figure out if the EU is becoming more independent from NATO and the US.

All three seem quite pessimistic about Europe’s power and sees Russia as a threat but also as a partner of Europe, while the US still sees Russia mainly as an enemy. The increasing European dependence on Russian energy can have and impact on the US/EU relations.

Rakhmon o "Tadjikbashi"

El recientemente reelegido (con eleccions más que cuestionables) presidente de Tadjikistán está tomando protagonismo. La primera medida ha sido retirar de su apellido el sufijo eslavo -ov, así ha pasado de llamarse Rakhmonov a Rakhmon, y ha extendido esta decisión a toda la población con un decreto que olbiga a hacer lo mismo en todos los niños con padres tadjikos (IHT):

“But if the president says we have to use Tajik names, then I’ll change my baby’s name. What else can I do?” Ofaridyeza and her husband have Tajik surnames made to sound more.

El nacionalismo nunca ha sido una característica importante en la cultura política tadjik, pero parece que ahora el presidente está empezando a impulsar cierto etno-nacionalismo. Como en todas las ex-repúblicas esto significa siempre un intento de distanciamiento con Moscú… pero ¿es solo un gesto o el primer paso?

Rakhmon también ha prohibido diferentes fiestas escolares asociadas con el periodo soviético (el dia del libro entre ellas) y ha ordenado a los estudiantes universitarios que dejen los mobiles y coches en casa cuando vayan a la universidad para evitar distracciones (me gustaría ver que pasaría si interamos esto en la Autonoma).

Todas estas políticas nos recuerdan a otro presidente centroasiático ya fallecido: Nyazov, que se autoproclamó Turkmenbashi (padre de todos los turkmenos) en su regimen totalitario.

Descongestionando el Bósfaro "in a Russian way"

Se ha confirmado la notícia, la aprovación del oleoducto entre Rusia, Bulgaria y Grecia ya es un hecho. La alternativa al saturado estrecho del Bósfaro irá de Burgas (Bulgaria) a Alexandropolis, costará unos 950 millones de euros y tendrá capacidad para 700.000 barriles de crudo diarios.

El petroleo del Caucaso y el Caspio (via Rusia) cruzará el Mar Negro hacia el puerto de Burgas y de allí por el oledoucto de 175 millas hasta la costa griega mediterranea. El oleoducto será de propiedad rusa (51%) pero el número de compañías implicadas es multinacional:

A multinational group of companies has lined up to cooperate in the latest project, including the U.S. company ChevronTexaco; the Russian-British joint venture TNK-BP; Rosneft and Sibneft of Russia; Bulgargaz and Terminal Universel Bourgas from Bulgaria; and Hellenic Petroleum, Promitheas Gas and Petrola of Greece.

Para Rusia es un gran exito estratégico, un acceso (aunque sea solamente energético) al Mediterráneo y a un puerto de agua caliente que lleva buscando desde siempre (Guerra de Criema), y abre la puerta a poder suministrar petróleo a países como Italia (Gazprom y ENI estan a punto de firmar suministros de gas).

Pero esto no ha hecho ninguna gracia a Turquía, que tenía la propuesta Samsun-Ceyhan para descongestionar el Bósfaro y ya ha anunciado la cancelación del Second Blue Stream, la duplicación del gasoducto ruso que pasa por Turquía y que podia servir para llevar gas a Israel, Italia, etc. Por su parte, parece que Grecia habría buscado la forma de no depender del Bósforo (malas relaciones con Turquia) para sus suministros energéticos.

EEUU y la UE han dado su bendición al proyecto, pero a nadie se le escapa que esto significa incrementar la dependencia energética de Rusia, precisamente cuando la UE quiere diversificar sus fuentes de suministro. (Journal of Turkish Weekly)

US officials want Greece to prioritize natural gas from Azerbaijan in a network being built from Central Asia to Greece through Turkey that is due to continue on to Italy after 2011. A meeting of officials from Azerbaijan planned to take place yesterday in Athens was postponed on the eve of the Putin visit.

Greece hopes the project will help turn it into a regional energy hub, especially after a Turkish-Greek-Italian pipeline pumping natural gas from the Caspian Sea and the Middle East to energy-hungry Europe will start operating by early next year. “This will benefit all three countries, and it puts Greece and Bulgaria on the world energy map,” Karamanlis said. “It will also help international markets with improved access to oil at a time when energy is a fundamental global concern.”