Europe plunged into energy crisis as Russia cuts off gas supply via Ukraine

  • Gas prices rise in London
  • Bulgaria reaches ‘crisis’ point

Russia cut gas exports to Europe by 60 per cent today, plunging the continent into an energy crisis ‘within hours’ as a dispute with Ukraine escalated.
This morning, gas companies in Ukraine said that Russia had completely cut off their supply.

Six countries reported a complete shut-off of Russian gas shipped via Ukraine today, in a sharp escalation of a struggle over energy that threatens Europe as winter sets in.

Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Croatia and Turkey all reported a halt in gas shipments from Russia through Ukraine.

Croatia said it was temporarily reducing supplies to industrial customers while Bulgaria said it had enough gas for only ‘for a few days’ and was in a ‘crisis situation’.

putin

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, left, speaks to Gazprom chairman Alexei Miller during a meeting yesterday

The European Union in Brussels called the sudden cut-off to some of its member countries ‘completely unacceptable’.

The EU demanded the two sides reopen talks as the row immediately sparked fears of gas supply shortages and rising energy prices in the UK.

The UK is suffering one of its coldest nights this century with temperatures plunging to as low as -10C.

Though Britain is one of Gazprom’s largest importers – relying on the company for some 16 per cent of consumption in 2007, according to The Times, the gas is supplied through a complicated swap scheme that means supplies themselves may not be affected.

Prices, on the other hand, rose during trading in London today.

dmitry medvedev and vladimir putin

Dmitry Medvedev and  Vladimir Putin on the slopes last week. Putin ordered Gazprom to cut supplies to and through Ukraine by around three-fifths

The dispute, coupled with Israel’s military operation in Gaza, also pushed oil up to a three-week high of $49.91 in New York yesterday.

Russia, whose main export is oil, stands to benefit from a recovery in prices.

‘Without prior warning and in clear contradiction with the reassurances given by the highest Russian and Ukrainian authorities to the European Union, gas supplies to some EU member states have been substantially cut,’ the EU said in a statement.

‘The Czech EU Presidency and the European Commission demand that gas supplies be restored immediately to the EU and that the two parties resume negotiations at once with a view to a definitive settlement of their bilateral commercial dispute,’ the presidency and the Commission said in a joint statement.

They added that the EU would ‘intensify the dialogue with both parties so that they can reach an agreement swiftly’.

Overnight the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered the state energy giant Gazprom to cut supplies to and through Ukraine by around three-fifths amid accusations its neighbour has been siphoning off and stealing Russian gas.

Ukraine says the Russian move has been prompted by payment and price disputes, a row between the two that has become almost annual.

The effects of the dispute on the rest of Europe however is stark, said Ukraine’s main gas supplier.

Around 80 per cent of the gas European Union countries receive from Russia comes through Ukraine.

While Germany and France are much more exposed, it is reckoned in some estimates that 15 per cent of Britain’s supplies come from Russia through pipelines into the UK’s east coast.

‘They [the Russians] have reduced deliveries to 92million cubic metres per 24 hours compared to the promised 221million cubic metres without explanation,’ said Valentin Zemlyansky of the Ukrainian gas company Naftogaz.

‘We do not understand how we will deliver gas to Europe. This means that in a few hours problems with supplies to Europe will begin.’

Wholesale gas prices have already risen on the back of the rallying price of oil, up 50 per cent in the last fortnight to more than $48 a barrel on the back of Middle East tension over Israeli incursions into Palestinian-held Gaza.

The dispute stokes fears Britain is overreliant on imported gas. North Sea stocks are dwindling, though initiatives are in place to build the Langeled pipeline from Norway, improve underground long-term storage facilities and receive liquefied natural gas by ship from Africa and Asia.

Eastern and central European countries are already reporting supply problems, including the Czech Republic which has the current presidency of the EU. The EU as a whole depends on Russia for 25 per cent of its gas supplies.

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U.S. Embassy in Ankara Headquarter for ISIS War on Iraq – Hariri Insider

nsnbc.me

Originally posted 6/22/14

Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : The green light for the use of ISIS brigades to carve up Iraq, widen the Syria conflict into a greater Middle East war and to throw Iran off-balance was given behind closed doors at the Atlantic Council meeting in Turkey, in November 2013, told a source close to Saudi – Lebanese billionaire Saad Hariri, adding that the U.S. Embassy in Ankara is the operation’s headquarter.

Photo:Aydinlik Daily

A “trusted source” close to the Saudi – Lebanese multi-billionaire and former Lebanese P.M. Saad Hariri told on condition of anonymity, that the final green light for the war on Iraq with ISIS or ISIL brigades was given behind closed doors, at the sidelines of the Atlantic Council’s Energy Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, on November 22 – 23, 2013.

The Atlantic Council is one of the most influential U.S. think tanks with regard to U.S. and NATO foreign policy and geopolitics. Atlantic Council President Frederick Kempe stressed the importance of the Energy Summit and the situation in the Middle East before the summit in November, saying:

“We view the current period as a turning point, just like 1918 and 1945. Turkey is in every way a central country, as a creator of regional stability. However much the USA and Turkey can work in unison, that is how effective they will be.”

Dr. Henry Kissinger

The summit was, among others, attended by Turkey’s President Abdullah Gül, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernst Monitz, Atlantic Council President Frederick Kempe, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former U.S. National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft.

It is noteworthy that Scowcroft has long-standing ties to Henry Kissinger and to the Minister of Natural Resources of the Kurdish Administrated Region of Northern Iraq.

“Had Baghdad been more cooperative about the Syrian oil fields at Deir-Ez-Zor in early 2013 and about autonomy for the North [Iraq’s northern, predominantly Kurdish region] they would possibly not have turned against al-Maliki; Or he would have been given more time”, said the Hariri insider during the almost two-hour-long conversation.

In April 2013 the EU lifted its ban on the import of Syrian oil from "rebel held territory to finance the opposition".

In March 2013, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry demanded that Iraq “stops the arms flow to Syria”, while U.S. weapons were flowing to ISIS via Saudi Arabia into Iraq and Jordan.

On Monday, April 22, 2013, 27 of the 28 E.U. foreign ministers agreed to lift the ban on the import of Syrian oil from opposition-held territories to allow the “opposition” to finance part of its campaign.

“ISIS that was supposed to control [the region around] Deir Ez-Zor. [Turkish Energy Minister Taner] Yildiz and [Kurdish] Energy Minister Ashti] Hawrami were to make sure the oil could flow via the Kirkuk – Ceyhan [pipeline];… Ankara put al-Maliki under a lot of pressure about the Kurdish autonomy and oil, too much pressure, too early, if you’d ask me”, the source said. He added that the pressure backfired.

Plotting: Red, by Maj.(r) Agha H.Amin. Blue, by Christof Lehmann

Previous reports confirmed that Baghdad started intercepting weapons and insurgents along the Saudi – Iraqi border, cutting off important supply lines for ISIS brigades around Deir Ez-Zor, and that Al-Maliki began complaining about a Saudi – Qatari-backed attempt to subvert the Iraqi State since late 2012. Noting my remark he replied:

“That is right, but the heavy increase in attacks came in May – June 2013, after al-Maliki ordered the military to al-Anbar “.

A previous article in nsnbc explains how Baghdad’s blockade caused problems in Jordan, because many of the transports of weapons, fighters and munitions had to be rerouted via Jordan.

The Hariri insider added that the oil fields should have been under ISIS control by August 2013, but that the plan failed for two reasons. The UK withdrew its support for the bombing of Syria. That in turn enabled the Syrian army to dislodge both ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusrah from Deir Ez-Zor in August.

“The situation was a disaster because in June Hariri, Yidiz, Hawrami, Scowcroft, and everybody was ready to talk about how to share the oil between the U.S., Turkey and E.U.. The Summit in November should have dealt with a fait accompli”, the Hariri source stressed, adding that Washington put a gun to al-Maliki’s head when he was invited to the White House.

Both the President of the Kurdish region of Iraq, Masoud Barzani and Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki were invited to Washington in early November 2013.

KurdishElection“Certain circles in Washington put a hell of a lot of pressure on Obama to put a gun to al-Maliki’s head”, said the Hariri source, adding that “time was running out and Obama was hesitant”. Asked what he meant with “time was running out” and if he could specify who it was that pushed Obama, he said:

“Barzani was losing his grip in the North (Kurdish Iraq); the election [in September] was a setback. All plans for distributing Iraqi oil via Turkey and for sidelining Baghdad were set between Kirkuk and Ankara in early November…

“Who exactly pressured Obama? I don’t know who delivered the message to Obama. I suspect Kerry had a word. It’s more important from where the message came, Kissinger, Scowcroft, Nuland and the Keagan clan, Stavridis, Petreaus, Riccardione, and the neo-con crowd at the [Atlantic] Council. … As far as I know ´someone` told Obama that he’d better pressure al-Maliki to go along with Kurdish autonomy by November or else. Who exactly ´advised` Obama is not as important as the fact that those people let him know that they would go ahead, with, or without him”.

Asked whether he knew details, how the final green light for the ISIS campaign was given, he said:

” Behind closed doors, in the presence of both Scowcroft, Hariri, and a couple of other people”. To my question “if he could be more specific” he replied “I could; I want to stay alive you know; Riccardione was tasked with the operation that day”.

Noting that a prominent member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family, Prince Abdul Rachman al-Faisal has been named as the one being “in command” of the ISIS brigades, and if he could either confirm or deny, he nodded, adding that “the Prince” is responsible for financing the operation and for part of the command structure, but that the operations headquarter is the U.S. Embassy in Ankara Turkey. “As far as I know, nothing moves without Ambassador Riccardione”, he added.

Carnival in Crimea

By Pepe Escobar

atimes.com

Time waits for no one, but apparently will wait for Crimea. The speaker of the Crimean parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov, has confirmed there will be a referendum on greater autonomy from Ukraine on May 25.

Until then, Crimea will be as hot and steamy as carnival in Rio – because Crimea is all about Sevastopol, the port of call for the Russian Black Sea fleet.

If the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a bull, this is the red flag to end all red flags. Even if you’re deep in alcohol nirvana dancin’ your troubles away at carnival in Rio – or New Orleans, or Venice, or Trinidad and Tobago – your brain will have registered that NATO’s ultimate wet dream is to command a Western puppet Ukrainian government to kick the Russian navy out of its base in Sevastopol. The negotiated lease applies until 2042. Threats and rumors of reneging it have already emerged.

The absolute majority of the Crimean peninsula is populated by Russian speakers. Very few Ukrainians live there. In 1954, it took only 15 minutes for Ukrainian Nikita Krushchev – he of the banging shoe at the UN floor – to give Crimea as a free gift to Ukraine (then part of the USSR). In Russia, Crimea is perceived as Russian. Nothing will change that fact.

We’re not facing a new Crimean War – yet. Only up to a point. NATO’s wet dream is one thing; it is quite another to pull it off – as in ending the Russian fleet routinely leaving Sevastopol across the Black Sea through the Bosphorus and then reaching Tartus, Syria’s Mediterranean port. So yes, this is as much about Syria as about Crimea.

The new Ukrainian Orange, Tangerine, Campari, Aperol Spritz or Tequila Sunrise revolution seems so far to have answered NATO’s prayers. But it’s a long and winding road for NATO to reenact the 1850s and remix the original Crimean War.

For the foreseeable future, we will be drowning in a white sea of platitudes. As in Pentagon supremo Chuck Hagel “warning” Russia to stay out of the turmoil, while NATO’s defense ministers issue the requisite pile of statements that no one reads “showing support” for the new leadership, and corporate shills reassure the populace this is not a new Cold War. [1]

Dance to my strategy, suckers
Where’s H L Mencken when we need him? No one ever lost money underestimating the mendacity of the Pentagon/NATO/CIA/State Department system. Especially now, when Ukrainian policy seems to have been subcontracted by the Obama administration to the likes of neo-con Victoria “F**k the EU” Nuland, married to Dubya darling neo-con Robert Kagan.

As Immanuel Wallerstein has already observed, [2] Nuland, Kagan and the neo-con gang are as much terrified of Russia “dominating” Ukraine as of a slowly emerging, and eventually quite possible, geopolitical alliance between Germany (with France as a junior partner) and Russia. That would mean the heart of the European Union forging a counter-power to the dwindling, increasingly wobbly American power.

And as the current embodiment of wobbly American power, the Obama administration is really in a class by itself. They are now lost in their own, self-concocted “pivot” maze. Which pivot comes first? That one to China? But then we need to pivot to Iran first – to end that Middle East distraction. Or maybe not.

Take this latest sound bite by US Secretary of State John Kerry, on Iran: “We took the initiative and led the effort to try to figure out if before we go to war there actually might be a peaceful solution.”

So suddenly it’s not about a nuclear deal to be possibly attained in 2014 anymore; it’s about “if before we go to war”. It’s about bombing a possible deal so the Empire may bomb a country – again. Or maybe that’s just a wet dream supplied by the Likudnik puppet masters.

The great Michael Hudson has speculated that “multi-dimensional chess” might be “guiding US moves in the Ukraine”. Not really. It’s more like if we can’t pivot to China – yet – and if the pivot to Iran is going to fail anyway (because we want it to), we might as well pivot somewhere else. Oh yes, that pesky place that prevented us from bombing Syria; it’s called Russia. And all that under the profound guidance of Victoria “F**k the EU” Nuland. Where’s a neo-Aristophanes to chronicle these marvels?

And never forget US corporate media. That CNN hack has been Amanpouring lately about the Budapest Agreement – stressing Russia should stay out of Ukraine. Well, visibly a horde of producers at ratings-falling-to-the-floor CNN have not even read the Budapest Agreement which, as University of Illinois professor Francis Boyle has noted, “also states that the US, Russia, Ukraine, and UK need to immediately jointly ‘consult’ – meaning meet at least at the foreign minister level”.

So who pays the bills?
The new prime minister of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, is – what else – a “technocratic reformer”, code for Western puppet. [3] Ukraine is a (torn) basket case. The currency has fallen 20% since the start of 2014. Millions of unemployed Europeans know the European Union does not have the dough to bail out the country (perhaps Ukrainians could ask former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi for some tips).

In Pipelineistan terms, Ukraine is an appendix to Russia; it’s Russian gas that transits through Ukraine to European markets. And Ukrainian industry depends on the Russian market.

Let’s take a closer look at the new Aperol Spritz “revolutionary” wallet. Every month, the natural gas import bill from Russia is roughly US$1 billion. In January, the country also had to spend $1.1 billion in debt repayment. Foreign currency reserves plunged to $17.8 billion from $20.4 billion. Ukraine has a minimum debt repayment of no less than $17 billion in 2014. They even had to cancel a $2 billion eurobond issue late last week.

Frankly, Russian President Vladimir Putin – aka Vlad the Hammer – must be grinning like the Cheshire cat. He could simply erase the significant 33% discount on natural gas imports he gave Kiev late last year. Rumor after rumor already state – ominously – that the Aperol Spritz revolutionaries won’t have the cash to pay pensions and public servants’ salaries. In June comes a monster payment to a bunch of creditors ($1 billion in debt will mature). Afterwards, it’s bleaker than north Siberia in winter.

The US offer of $1 billion is risible. And all this after the “”F**k the EU” “strategy” of Victoria Nuland torpedoed an Ukrainian transitional government – by the way, negotiated by the EU – which might have kept the Russians on board, money-wise.

Without Russia, Ukraine will totally depend on the West to pay all its bills, not to mention avoid being bankrupt. That amounts to a whopping $30 billion until the end of 2014. Unlike Egypt, they cannot dial the House of Saud’s number and ask for some juicy petrodollars. That $15 billion loan from Russia promised recently could come in handy – but Moscow must get something in return.

The notion that Putin will order a military attack on the Ukraine should be billed to US corporate media’s sub-zoological intellectual quotient. Vlad the Hammer just needs to watch the circus – as in the West squabbling about where to get those billions to be squandered in a (torn) basket case. Or the International Monetary Fund churning out yet another dreadful “structural adjustment” to send Ukraine’s population back to the Paleolithic.

Crimea could even stage its own delayed carnival, voting not only for more autonomy but to leave the (torn) basket case altogether. In this case, Putin will even get Crimea for free – Krushchev-style. Not a bad deal. Thanks to that oh so strategic “F**k the EU” Russian “pivot”.

Notes:
1. US and Britain say Ukraine is not a battleground between East and West, Daily Telegraph, February 26, 2014.
2. See here.
3. Biden: U.S. Supports Ukraine’s New Government, Voice of America, February 27, 2014.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com

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CARNIVAL IN CRIMEA – A POSTCRIPT

3/1/14

https://www.facebook.com/pepe.escobar.77377

Russia did not invade Crimea. Russian troops were already there by treaty.

Crimea’s referendum will now be on March 30. And Crimea ASKED FOR HELP FROM RUSSIA. Western corporate media hysteria about Russia “invading” Ukraine is beyond ridiculous.

Russian troops in Crimea ARE LEGAL. According to the SOFA in place Moscow may deploy up to 30,000 soldiers. At the moment, there are less than 15,000, if that.

Don’t mess with Russian intelligence. Even before neo-con Vic “f#$* the EU” Nuland’s intercept, they had already identified the wider mechanics of the CIA-style coup – including Turkish intelligence financing Tatars in Crimea.

First Crimea – then there will be East Ukraine, from Dnipro to Donetsk. Like Crimea, they will ask for Russian support, military or otherwise. Thus the long-term scenario of all of them possibly joining the Russian Federation.

The coup in Kiev ONLY WORKS IF THE “WEST” – AS IN NATO – GETS CRIMEA. Otherwise it’s void.

And what will the Tatars in Crimea do? Stage a jihad? Wait: the “West” will surely try to FINANCE THIS JIHAD.

Very possible endgame: the “West” gets a bankrupt back of beyond (West Ukraine). Russia gets the industrialized East Ukraine, not to mention ultra-strategic Crimea.