Some weeks ago, I had noticed a new separation of tone and policy toward Ukraine between Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev, with the former closing deals and renegotiating contracts, while the latter becoming more antagonistic and confrontational on the energy arrangements. Taking a look at the details, Roman Kupchinsky at Jamestown sees an intensification of the inter-elite fighting behind these discrepancies. Roman’s quickly becoming the new Stratfor…
Putin’s new willingness to suddenly meet Ukrainian gas needs is in direct contrast to Medvedev’s new anti-Ukrainian hard line and seems to be part of Putin’s counter-attack in order to preserve the Gazprom Empire for himself and his clan of siloviki.
This does not bode well for anyone. The Medvedev-Putin fight, which boils down to which camp will control billions of dollars of Gazprom’s assets,is an internal Russian inter-clan battle with enormous consequences for European energy security.
The European Union could wind up the big loser in this battle. If the Ukrainian-Russian conflict over the future of the January 2009 contract is not resolved soon, Ukraine might be hard pressed to meet its transit commitments of Russian gas to the EU in early 2010.