Friday, June 26, 2009

Should Europe get tough with Russia?

A wrong policy choice on Russia by the West can push Russia inexorably in the wrong direction.
- Brahma Chellaney
We need Western cooperation. We don't have the money to modernize Russia on our own. We can't rely on China.
- Anatoly Adamishin
Europe is sleepwalking to disaster on energy. Europe won't build the pipeline it needs and wants. Europe should treat Gazprom as it treats Microsoft -- it's far worse than Microsoft. Russia has to play by the rules. Russia must clean up financial system -- it's used and abused by the corrupt.
- Edward Lucas

What kind of bear is Russia? JOTMAN.COM recently traveled to Helsinki to answer that question. There we live-blogged an encounter between Anatoly Adamishin, former Russian ambassador to London, Economist correspondent for Europe Edward Lucas, and Indian foreign affairs expert Brahma Chellaney moderated by CNN's Jim Clancy. Recently, I asked Russian Jotman contributor Sanjuro, who comes from the Russian Far East, to share his reflections on to the discussion (this is Part 3).

Sanguro describes one strategy:
For EU, there is one (not the only one, I admit) relatively safe way of dealing with Russia. Maintain a tough negotiating stance in oil and gas dealings with Russian state corporations. EU has no other supplier, but Russia has no other buyer either. The EU can afford to cut down its energy consumption - Russia can't afford to have the payments deferred. The EU has ways to move to renewables and alternative oil and gas routes in the long-term future.

Russia is also negotiating with China about oil and gas pipelines, but is falling far behind its own schedules. And the Chinese are making it quite clear they are not going to pay as much as the Europeans do. Besides, there is always a dark card in stack - most of the ex-intelligence community have too much vested interests overseas to suddenly go Kim Chong-Il, and many of them if properly investigated, may turn liable under international criminal laws. There's no way they will risk their free travel and overseas villas.
This is the third part of a series featuring reactions to "What kind of bear is Russia" -- our live-blog of the 2009 IPI World Congress panel. Don't miss Part 1 "Could Putin's new goal for Russia be democracy?" and Part 2 "Does Russia sincerely hate the West?."

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