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Hitler Failed to Break Belarus Down. Whether the Kremlin and "Gazprom" Will Manage to Do It?

Hitler Failed to Break Belarus Down. Whether the Kremlin and "Gazprom" Will Manage to Do It?
30.12.2006

Mass media actively discuss the menacing situation developing with deliveries of the Russian gas to allied Byelorussia. Many experts consider that after the next negotiations on this theme have come to the end without results, "Gazprom" has got into the export trap. Minsk is capable to block completely deliveries of gas from Russia on the West on pipeline "Yamal-Europe" - the experts interrogated by "Sheets" believe.

In its turn "Kommersant" emphasizes that "Gazprom" has promulgated a course of commercial negotiations that means that the ultimatum is presented to Alexander Lukashenko: five days to make the final decision whether to buy gas at so-called market prices or to agree on adjoining Russia. In the first case gas will rise in price from 46.7 up to 105 dollars for one thousand cubic meter since January, 1st, in the second - Byelorussia should enter into the Allied state on conditions of the Kremlin.

The West closely follow a course of the conflict. So, in Andrew Kramer's article in the American "New York Times” it stated:

"Gazprom", the Russian gas monopoly, on Tuesday threatened to suspend deliveries of natural gas to Byelorussia if the country will disagree on substantial growth of the price to the beginning of next year.

The firm Russian position forces to assume that Moscow becomes aggressive in establishment of prices for energy carriers even in relation to the countries which are its close allies. Now Byelorussia receives the cheapest gas in the former Soviet Union except for Russia. "Gazprom", the world's largest power company on volumes of reserves, insists on increase of the present price for gas for Byelorussia more than twice though this sum will be smaller in comparison with richer countries in the Europe.

"Gazprom" warned that Byelorussia behaves "irresponsibly" in negotiations on establishment of prices and transfer of the control over a share in the important export pipeline and specified that such resistance creates threat for power deliveries to Byelorussia.

This threat has sounded after almost a year after "Gazprom" has blocked deliveries of gas to the Ukraine - one more important for the Russian power export transit country, having engendered deep anxiety in the Western Europe in relation to energy deliveries. In three days when the wave of criticism rose, “Gazprom” switched on the gas again…

Hard position of "Gazprom" on the negotiations specified breakdown of special relations between Russia and Byelorussia which participate in a free coalition under the name "Allied state". Russia is - one of the last in the Europe allies of Belarussian dictator Alexander Lukashenko. "Putin rejects any myth about Allied state, - Liliya Shevtsova, the representative of Moscow Centre Carnegie noted. - Lukashenko is in despair and is tired out into a corner".

The author of the publication in British "Times" Dzhulian Evans does not quite agree with Lydia Shevtsova's statement about "Alexander Lukashenko being tired out into a corner". In particular, Evans writes:

"Lukashenko … was the only deputy in Byelorussia who voted against dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. After coming to power in 1996 he made all that he could to freeze the country as the last stronghold of the USSR.

At the time when all countries around him carried out the postSoviet liberal reforms, Lukashenko obstinately resisted them and publicly named IMF "concourse of swindlers". About 80% of economy remains under control of the state and its significant part is supervised by his presidential administration. KGB keeps in Byelorussia rigid grasp and prisons are being replenished with former political opponents of Lukashenko.

Nevertheless, among Byelorussians he is surprisingly popular, especially among people of declining years who are grateful for a low crime level and stable social system. They call him "Batka" because of his rigid paternal policies. Even if he won’t fabricate elections, according to analysts, he would still receive more than 60 % of voices.

However, now his Soviet state in a miniature can find itself in a trouble and not at all because a cell is being shaken by EU or the USA but because of much more serious threat – Putin’s Russia. Byelorussia survived and even was prospering during the last several years because Russia sold it cheap oil and gas approximately for a quarter of a market price. …

The Kremlin says that starting from the 1st of January it will quadruple the price for gas for Byelorussia if Byelorussia will not sell the gas pipeline to the belonging to the Kremlin "Gazprom". It will give "Gazprom" the control over own export of gas which goes through Byelorussia to the Europe and also will put an end to sale of the subsidized Russian gas by Byelorussia to other countries.

This step will disconnect "artificial breath" to generous Belarusian social system and by that - Lukashenko's popularity. However, some analysts believe that artful Lukashenko can survive and keep the mode".

Really, annually together with the contract for the deliveries of gas to Byelorussia the transit contract for export of gas on the pipeline “Yamal - Europe" should be signed - a source close to "Gazprom" and familiar with a course of negotiations informed "Vedomosty". As he said, Minsk always coordinated signing of these two contracts. If there will be no contract for transit, the Byelorussians will consider this gas as contraband on which basis compressor stations can be stopped. Naturally, deliveries to the Europe will be  

Byelorussia can also illegally take gas from a pipe "Yamal-Europe". "This gas main has kept a part of the taps connecting it with a pipe "Beltransgaz", - the source explains. - Therefore they can take it without ceremony from the European pipe half of daily consumption".

"If "Gazprom" will block a pipe to Minsk, the Byelorussians will hold on longer than in February, 2004 - the official familiar with a course of negotiations of "Gazprom" and Belarus believes. - They made reserved of black oil and coal. It can lead to a breakdown of export contracts to “Gazprom” and forfeits will increase all profits from possible increase of the price of gas fro Minsk”.

Poland which receives approximately half of consumed gas through Byelorussia will suffer more than the others, director of "East European Gas Analysis" Michael Korchemkin marks. In its turn the source close to the Polish state company "PGNiG" admits that in his company are worried by the fact that "Gazprom" till now could not agree with Minsk about deliveries of gas in 2007 and remind of the penalty for breakdown of export contracts.

In connection with this event the president of Byelorussia Alexander Lukashenko believes that his country is deliberately punished for economic successes: "Negotiations on deliveries of natural gas from Russia are very hard for us as well as negotiations on deliveries of oil for processing for our factories. Here and there appear questions on deliveries of the Belarusian goods to Russia. Coastings to Byelorussia are very serious. And the more we shall have successes in economy and we have them, they are visible and palpable, the more we will be suppressed”.

Political scientist Vladimir Filin who arrived to Minsk for signing the contract between consulting firm which member of the administrative board he is and as he said "one very serious Belarusian organization" was even more frank. Making comments on a situation with the prices for gas Vladimir Filin said:

"The Russians should understand that the money which in the Kremlin and "Gazprom" intend to receive from the Belarusian consumers will not go to ordinary citizens of Russia. They will be partially directed into so-called Stabilization Fund situated in the USA and working on the American but not on the Russian economy and partially they will be stolen by ineffective and thievish Kremlin and Gazprom’s top.  

On the other hand, citizens of Russia should not be surprised to those reciprocal measures which, in case of continuation of irresponsible behaviour of the Kremlin, Byelorussia can undertake. What measures could it be?

First of all, Byelorussia at absence of the contract on transit through its territory will confiscate all illicit gas and use it at own discretion.

Secondly, Byelorussia will reconsider conditions and tariffs for transit transportations through the territory by all types of transport of cargoes following from Russia and to Russia.

Thirdly, due to the fault of the Kremlin it will be possible to forget about the Allied state of Russia and Byelorussia and the defensive union for ever. All military objects in Byelorussia being used now by Russia will stop functioning. In particular, the radar station of System of the prevention of a rocket attack in Baranovichi will be disconnected and taken under armed security forces. Foreign experts will be admitted to it if necessary”.

"One year ago, - Vladimir Filin continued, - I was in my native Kiev where I had an opportunity to influence acceptance of reciprocal measures by the Ukraine against gas blackmail from the Kremlin and "Gazprom". Then those measures completely justified themselves, they met full understanding also in the West. I am convinced that it will be exact the same this time.

Let nobody misleads a known negative altitude of the West to a figure of the president of Belarus Alexander Grigorevich Lukashenko. Everyone understand that in this conflict Lukashenko is not the main thing to be talked about, Belarus is on the first place which confronts corrupted Kremlin kleptocracy”.

Among long-term consequences of gas war Vladimir Filin sees the following prospect that instead of the destruction by the Kremlin the idea of the union of Belarus and Russia as the time goes another idea will appear - confederative association of Belarus and the Ukraine. "The essence of the idea consists not only in creation of oil-and-gas transit monopoly, but has deep historical roots. Since 14 century Belarus and the Ukraine made a uniform state - the Great Princedom Lithuanian which used to be "Lithuanian" only by its name but in its essence – east Slavonian and orthodox for a long time resisting as to the catholic Teutonic order and to Moscow Asian influence.

If they want in the Kremlin recurrence of historical experiment, they will receive it. Byelorussians – are persistent people, even Hitler could not break them down. Whether Kremlin kleptocrats seriously think that they can do it?"

In the meantime, the Kremlin-Belarusian conflict is actively discussed in the continental Europe where there are basic consumers of the Russian gas. So, the newspaper "Handelsblatt" writes:

"There are children who don’t learn anything: even having touched once up to a hot plate they again put fingers in fire again. The Russian monopolist "Gazprom" acts similarly to such child and wishes to prove that it doesn’t care a cuss.

In the beginning of this year "Gazprom" in the gas conflict with the Ukraine blocked the crane. Worldwide protests became consequence, in fact in struggle for influence in the neighbouring states Moscow ruthlessly uses delivery of energy carriers as the weapon. Now Belarus has to test the influence of this weapon. Russia again has pulled out old argument: if the client does not wish to buy the goods at so-called market price, it is necessary to press him. An example of Sakhalin proves that the argument is rather doubtful: hardly company “Shell” and its Japanese partners passed control over its giant project on the extraction of energy carriers in riverside part of the island in Pacific Ocean into the hands of "Gazprom", all charges on the damage made to the environment vanished. “Gazprom” - is Russia, they say in Moscow. And the given statement in accuracy corresponds to a reality. Inflexibility in style of tsar-autocrat which the state concern shows unequivocally proves that Russia is still not a lawful state. And consequently hardly probable that someone will have confidence in "Gazprom" even if the concern which is under control of the state will wish to increase volumes of deliveries of energy carriers in the western direction. At least now after fresh threats into address of Belarus Western states should, at last, make a conclusion: it’s necessary to find an alternative to Russia as to the supplier of energy carriers. It appears that “Gazprom” does an ill turn”.

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