Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Berlin instead of Washington

Another brick in the Russian energy strategy was cemented into place with the announcements that Gazprom (for now) will develop the Shtokman gas field "on its own" (my prediction: German and other European firms will be invited in at some point to "help") and that the gas from this field will feed the new Baltic pipeline system to Germany instead of the original assumption that Arctic gas would be liquified and shipped to America.

This means that former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane's hope that Russian natural gas could be one of the ways in which the U.S. weans itself off Persian Gulf hydrocarbons while proceeding along the route to energy independence is likely to be dashed.

Meanwhile, Germany is being positioned to be Russia's distributors--particularly to the rest of eastern Europe. I imagine Poland will enjoy having to buy gas from German firms and paying a nice mark-up in the process.

Notice also the lack of enthusiasm in a number of European capitals for what's happening in Georgia.

Merkel, the great hope in Washington for changing the tenor of the Russo-German relationship as it was developing under Putin and Schroeder, has her own version of Ostpolitk--with a clear sense of Germany's interests.

Germany will alter its relationship with Russia when US makes a clean break with Saudi Arabia. No need for lecturing from Washington on energy matters.
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