Well, that could be one way of diffusing the ongoing EU/CIS standoff over EUropean energy supplies that recently saw death and destruction in Georgia and much of southern/eastern Europe lose gas supplies in the middle of winter. EurActiv reports that “Lawmakers in the European Parliament are considering inviting Russia to join the Union’s Nabucco gas pipeline project, to avoid competition with rival projects sponsored by Moscow in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine gas dispute.”
The thing is, though, that Nabucco was designed almost exclusively to cut out Russia’s dominant role in European energy transit, as pointed out (with maps) back in August last year, plus July 2008, February 2008, January 2008, July 2007, and doubtless several dozen other posts.
Could giving Russia a share in the pipeline’s running (and, no doubt, profits) be a sensible solution? Well, yes. Sod the new dawn in EU-US relations that so many have been hoping for with the arrival of Barack Obama in the White House – Europe’s most vital extra-European relationship is not with America, but with Russia (counting Russia as outside Europe solely for the purpose of this post). We may have had a few bitchy slanging matches with the US during the Bush years, but the deterioration in European/Russian relations (and yes, I do mean the whole of Europe, not just EU member states) over the same period has been far more damaging for both parties.
With Putin – seemingly still obsessed with macho nationalistic posturing and apparently unable to stomach entering into genuine partnerships with the West – still pulling the strings, it’s likely going to be another few years before a true rapprochement between Europe and Russia can occur (which still seems odd, Putin having grown up in Russia’s most European city, St Petersburg, and having spent several years working for the KGB in Berlin). But appeals to Russian self-interest and self-esteem are certainly going to be the way to break down the barriers – played right, a Nabucco team-up with Russia could give the Kremlin just the kind of ego-boost it seems to run on. Europe on her knees, begging “Oh, won’t you help us, dear Russia? We can’t do it without you! is guaranteed to give plenty of good propaganda value back home, so has a moderate chance of succeeding.
(Warning – lots of short posts likely to follow on various topics as I continue to catch up on what I’ve missed over the last couple of weeks…)