The war in Ukraine will have demonstrated the impotence of the United Nations if a permanent member of the Security Council with full veto power becomes a rogue state without consequence. For the havoc it created, Russia must now be evicted from the UN.
Russia’s targets are not limited to nuclear. A September 12ttack on Ukraine’s second largest thermal powerplant left thousands in major metropolitan areas without power. The attack was a response to Ukrainian counteroffensives, where the Ukrainian military retook over 6,000 sq km of the Russian-occupied territory in the Balakleya, Izyum and Kupiansk regions, and seized the initiative. While this latest Russian attack was a spiteful response to battlefield reversals, the destruction of energy infrastructure has been an ever-present tactic throughout the invasion. Forcibly denying access to energy sources is not only designed to undermine Ukrainian morale and logistics, but also to threaten and undermine European unity.
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This move is not unexpected. As I wrote here, President Joe Biden’s failure in Saudi Arabia in July to secure more oil production shook Saudi Arabia’s transactional relationship (security for oil) with the USA to its foundations. Saudi Arabia began importing Russian fuel oils for domestic use to free up more crude oil for export months ago, with the Biden Administration impotent to stop it. Meanwhile, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and Russian President Vladimir Putin have enjoyed close personal relations for years. These events had already helped push oil to above $90 per barrel. However, the oil futures on October 7 remained below $90 due to recession fears.
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Putin, in his Götterdämmerung moment, is fearmongering. In Stalinist propaganda language, he claims that the West “took off their masks and showed their true nature” … “for centuries [the West] wanted to colonize Russia, and after the collapse of the Soviet Union dreamed, but failed, to shatter it into pieces, set off ethnic groups against each other, and condemn them to indolence and extinction.” Like many dictators before him, Putin claims to be engaged in a preventive war to save his homeland.
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There can now be no negotiated reopening or resumption of deliveries even if the battlefields of Ukraine instantly fall silent. The Russians have achieved their immediate goal, with Reuters reporting “Nord Stream AG said it was impossible to estimate when the gas network system’s working capability would be restored.” This winter, Europe is doomed to face the worst energy crisis since the Arab oil embargo of 1974, or worse.
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Despite Francis Fukuyama's infamous opinion, history certainly did not end. The imperial collapse was an unintended consequence of Gorbachev's desire to humanize socialism and save the USSR. He utterly failed in both tasks, but Russia and other Soviet republics were liberated from the Communist nightmare, and the world gained 30 years of relative peace, which is now coming to an end.
The world’s most populous democracy is searching for ways to satiate its oil hunger, and it has decided to follow the well-worn path of engagement with the Middle East.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met for a much-heralded meeting in Tehran on July 19th to discuss energy policy, maritime security, and Syria. Many are eager to portray the meeting as a convergence of principled anti-western leaders who will challenge the international system.
From many conversations held with Russian policymakers, we know that the vision which denies Ukraine peoplehood, and the Kremlin's resulting aggressions, are nothing new. This war's atrocities flow from the dark misapprehensions held by many Moscow elites concerning Russia's destiny, history and geopolitics.
Even before battlefields are silent, the battle for billions in Ukrainian reconstruction budgets has already begun. Top U.S. policy makers, including Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen championed the initial assistance package to Ukraine, which passed (86-11) in the Senate on May 19.
To understand the international agonies and opportunities that rising energy supply costs, exogenous shocks, increasing interest in renewables, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine present, there is no better example than Kazakhstan. It is singularly damaged by the current crises while simultaneously having so much potential to benefit from the global need for energy.
On Wednesday, Hungary demanded that shipments of Russian oil be exempt from the European Union’s proposed sanctions. This statement comes amidst tense negotiations between Budapest and Brussels over the EU’s sixth round of penalties against Moscow. Budapest has proven the most skeptical of the plan, which requires the unanimous consent of member states.
On Monday, President Vladimir Putin claimed that Western sanctions imposed against Russia have failed in a televised address. He said the strategy of economic blitzkrieg did not provoke an immediate meltdown of the economy as expected. Instead, he touted the strength of the ruble, Russia’s currency.
Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine has provided the U.S. with a critical opportunity to diminish Russia’s influence over its neighbors by giving them technical assistance, economic development and security that neither Moscow nor Beijing can.
The White House walked back President Joe Biden's recent remarks in Poland calling for Russian strongman Vladimir Putin's removal from power. Coming from the American president, the statement was unnecessarily inflammatory amid a strategic environment fraught with dangers of unintended escalation.
During President Joe Biden's visit to Europe, the US has struck a deal with the EU to boost its liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply as the trade bloc seeks to reduce its dependence on Russian gas. The war in Ukraine highlighted the Old Continent's unsustainable Russian energy habit.
An impending political transition could alter Turkmenistan’s China-dominated foreign policy, one defined almost exclusively by energy exports and international seclusion.
Last week President Joe Biden announced a complete ban on Russian oil and gas imports – the latest in a series of debilitating sanctions meant to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for his crimes against Ukraine.
As Russia’s war in Ukraine intensifies, the Biden administration banned Russian oil and natural gas purchases. This move represents a departure from initial Western sanctions against the Kremlin, designed specifically to avoid interference in Russian energy flows – particularly to import-dependent Europe.
Russian forces in Ukraine seized the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station Friday, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Brazen tank and artillery attacks on the Ukrainian forces defending the plant resulted in a hazardous fire on some of the facility’s auxiliary buildings.
As Russia further invaded Ukraine last week, the West is deploying an arsenal of painful sanctions against Moscow, targeting energy projects such as Nord Stream 2, Russian debt trade limitations, financial systems such as SWIFT, and the flow of high-tech goods including advanced computer chips.
The forthcoming political change will affect vast energy resources, especially natural gas, in Turkmenistan, one of the most isolated and impoverished countries in Eurasia.
On January 2, mass protests erupted in Kazakhstan over removing price caps on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) leading to a 100% spike in fuel costs. It was the beginning of the worst political earthquake the young Eurasian country has seen since its founding in 1991.
As the possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine grows ever more likely, Berlin’s hesitancy to impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2 and other pressure points, such as SWIFT bank transfer system, erodes deterrence, and may invite Russian aggression.
In the first weeks of 2022, Kazakhstan experienced its most intense protests since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The causes of the turmoil in the country – like any major upheaval – are multi-faceted and were long in the making.