There is a huge elephant in the room here in Moscow. The issue is permeating everything but remains off the official agenda. Even the media is treating it with kid gloves.
It’s the uprising in Ukraine.
As the protests intensify in Kiev, the Kremlin has now entered into a huge tug of war with the European Union (EU) over access to and influence over Ukrainian energy policy.
At issue is the direction of Ukraine’s future partnerships…and who is likely to end up having influence over the crucial natural gas pipelines that span the country, moving more gas to Europe than any other venue.
For years now, Kiev has maintained a steadfast refusal to allow Gazprom, the Russian gas behemoth, to gain control over those domestic pipelines.
Gazprom, whose moves are clearly extensions of Russian foreign policy, has already taken over both the export pipeline network and the company responsible for the transit in neighboring Belarus.
This arrangement allows Moscow to control the access to Europe – even though the pipeline crosses a separate sovereign state. But Ukraine has since made it clear it would not allow the same result.
However, the situation is becoming more acute and the options are limited. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a workable solution.