Streetwise Professor

January 15, 2009

How Do You Know They’re Lying?

Filed under: Economics,Energy,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 10:03 am

“When their lips are moving,” I can hear you say.   But really, that’s not what I was going to say.

What I was going to say is–“When they blame their troubles on nefarious Amerikanski plots.”

The “they”, of course, being the Russian powers that be.   Aleksandr Medvedev of Gazprom has ominously   suggested that the Ukrainians are acting under American orders in the ongoing gas standoff.   For “evidence” he pointed to an anodyne US-Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership in which the parties stated:

  • Recognizing the importance of a well functioning energy sector, the parties intend to work closely together on rehabilitating and modernizing the capacity of Ukraine’s gas transit infrastructure and diversify and secure Ukraine’s sources of nuclear fuel making Ukraine less dependent on foreign sources of nuclear fuel and nuclear fuel storage.
  • Following the Roadmap of Priorities for U.S.-Ukraine Cooperation, the United States and Ukraine intend to launch the work of the Bilateral Energy Security Working Group. Consistent with the U.S.-EU Summit Declaration of June 10, 2008, the United States and Ukraine intend to enhance a trilateral dialogue with the European Union on enhanced energy security.
  • Wow.   You can really see how suspicious this is.

    Medvedev also said something about how (I’m quoting from memory) “we don’t know all that’s in the agreement.”   Now, on the matter of secret protocols, of course I defer to the expertise of the political descendents of the signatories to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, but I mean, really.   This is just typical State Department fluff, sound and no fury signifying less than nothing.

    But the fact that Russia/Gazprom are apparently so desperate to feel compelled to play the VAC (“Vast American Conspiracy”) card says a whole helluva lot.

    It also undermines, in my mind anyways, any credibility that Gazprom has in this dispute.   The facts in this affair are extremely difficult to get, let alone interpret, and it is clear that the Ukrainians and their crazed domestic politics bear more than a little blame for what has transpired, and which is still transpiring.   But Gazprom/Russia is hardly an angel here.   Both sides have been ruthlessly opportunistic.   But Gazprom has tried hard to convince the world that it is being reasonable.   When it says silly things like the blame lies on the Potomoc rather than the Dneiper or the Moskva, though, it makes it pretty clear that all the reasonableness is just an act.

    So, in a way, Medvedev has done the world a favor by letting the mask slip to reveal the sovok face underneath.

    * Or should that be “eminentoes”?   Paging Dan Quayle!

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