Showing posts with label Oil Wars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oil Wars. Show all posts

Oil Wars And The Conflict That Pit Russia Against NATO And The EU.

President Putin's assault on the US and the West in Munich marked a significant shift in Russia's Western-oriented strategy, which had been prevalent in official Russian security culture for a decade. 

External threats to Russian security have now been established as the main source of concern. 

In response to concerns from the EU and the US about the quality of Russian democracy, Moscow's leadership claimed that Russia had its own "sovereign democracy," emphasizing the sovereignty part (Gould-Davies 2016). 

As a result, Russian democracy could not be assessed by Western standards, which were mostly irrelevant to it (Herd 2009). 

It was also at this time that specific Russian policy activities started to target Western interests, frequently in reaction to perceived threats from the US and the European Union. 

The "gas wars" between Russia and Ukraine in 2006 and 2009, which resulted in natural gas cutoffs to EU member nations in the middle of winter, were the first serious conflict with the European Union. 

The Russian military involvement in Georgia in August 2008 happened between the two incidents (when the Georgian president decided to use his new NATO-built military to force the reintegration of secessionist territories). 

Furthermore, Moscow conducted economic boycotts and launched cyberattacks against new EU member states with whom it was increasingly at odds politically. 

All of these disputes stemmed from Russia's desire to halt and, if possible, reverse further Western incursion into what it saw to be its lawful sphere of influence (Kanet 2010a; Polese and Beacgáin 2011; Papert 2014). 

The problem in the "gas wars" was a long-standing disagreement over the price of Russian energy supplies to Ukraine as well as Ukrainian transit fees for Russian gas destined for Europe. 

This problem had been settled each year via discussions until the Orange Revolution and the toppling of Kyiv's pro-Russian administration. 

However, now that Ukraine has an EU-friendly administration, compromise has become more difficult, and political conflict has erupted. 

The standoff concluded in a confrontation in which Moscow accepted the political risks of failing to supply gas supplies, which resulted in the total stoppage of gas flow to Ukraine. 

Moscow's goal was to establish who was the more powerful player in the conflict. 

Russia must not seem to back down in the Ukraine issue as part of its desire to re-establish Russian supremacy in post-Soviet space, even if it meant long-term consequences in ties with the EU. 

The EU, for its part, initiated an energy diversification policy to wean itself off of Russia - a move that has only added to the worsening of relations (Umbach 2010; Moulioukova and Kanet 2017). 

In many ways, the fundamental problem that sparked Russia's five-day conflict with Georgia in August 2008 had similar origins: After the color revolutions, Russia has been more opposed to former Soviet states' incorporation into Western-dominated institutions. 

Tbilisi had elected a government devoted to stronger connections with the West, including NATO membership and wider ties with the EU, after the so-called Rose Revolution. 

These developments, according to Moscow, run opposed to Russia's objective of reclaiming a dominant position inside the former Soviet area. 

Even though NATO had not yet agreed to President Bush's request to admit Georgia in 2008, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili decided that the refurbished military provided by NATO through the Partnership for Peace Program could be used to resolve the long-standing frozen conflicts in South Ossetia and Abkhazia (Ambrosio 2019). 

The outcome was disastrous for Georgia. 

Russian soldiers intervened and routed the newly formed Georgian army; separatist regions proclaimed formal independence, following the model of Kosovo; and Moscow acknowledged their independence. 

The Russian military intervention sent a clear message to Georgians, Ukrainians, and Americans that, after more than a decade of verbal opposition to NATO expansion, Russia was now in a position to use military means to prevent further eastward expansion of Western political and security institutions, even if it meant worsening relations with both the US and Western Europe. 

17 Several more causes contributed to the decline in East–West ties in the first decade of the twenty-first century, in addition to these general unfavorable tendencies. 

The majority of new EU member states from Central and Eastern Europe carried with them fears and animosities toward Russia founded on decades, if not centuries, of previous interactions (DeBardeleben 2009; Schmidt-Felzman 2014). 

As a result, it's no wonder that Russia's readiness to intimidate and force weaker neighbors has reawakened major concerns among prospective EU members about their long-term security. 

Ethnic Russians staged public demonstrations in Tallinn and outside the Estonian embassy in Moscow in 2007, for example, when the Estonian government relocated a Soviet war monument from the center of Tallinn to its international military cemetery (Herzog 2011). 

Following this, Russian oil and coal supplies were halted, as well as a large cyber-attack that effectively shut down Estonia's information technology industry ("Bronze Meddling" 2007). 

Furthermore, after bilateral conflicts with Russia, both Poland and Lithuania utilized their veto power to delay the drafting of a new EU-Russia collaboration agreement for more than a year and a half. 

These and other concerns divided the EU and Russia during a joint conference in May 2007, preventing any substantive agreement on subjects regarded crucial by one or the other side (Dempsey 2007; Lowe 2007). 

As a result, Russian ties with the European Union and its main member nations worsened substantially throughout Putin's second term as Russian President and into the presidency of Dmitry Medvedev. 

The EU was no longer seen as a mostly inconsequential organisation that Russia could simply ignore or disregard. 

Despite the absence of a cohesive European Union strategy toward Russia during this time, the overall relationship continued to deteriorate. 

Part of this may be observed in Russian challenges to the EU's claims to moral authority, as well as accusations that the EU has double standards when it comes to human-rights rules, ethnic minorities' treatment, and economic issues (Facon 2008; Neumann 2014; Kanet 2015). 

In terms of Russia's strategic culture, the leadership has become more focused on security challenges from the West and strategies to counter them. 

Relations between the Russian Federation and the European Union were at an all-time low when Putin handed over the presidency to Dimitri Medvedev in 2008, not just as a result of general changes in East–West relations, but also for reasons unrelated to the Russo–American rivalry. 

A key characteristic of the battle was the escalating competition for regional clout. 

The general complexion of Russia–EU ties did not alter much during Medvedev's four years in office. 

However, Medvedev was able to pursue a more liberal foreign policy than his predecessor, and the two sides were able to establish an agreement on a number of areas of mutual interest, which we will explore in the next section (Trenin 2014; McFaul 2018, 76–238).

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

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