As RA argued yesterday, more than profit seeking, logistical expediency, or simple market value, Europe and Turkey finally agreed to build the Nabucco natural gas pipeline mainly as a response following years of heavy handed Russian conduct in energy affairs. Though the two gas wars with Ukraine are imperfect examples, it seems that Russia has something to learn about running a soft-touch energy empire before provoking more Cuban-Revolution-like alternative pipelines. There’s some more on this line from an editorial in the Washington Post:
Though energy pipelines are not usually the subject of international politics and high diplomacy, Moscow has made them so. Twice in the past four years, it has turned off a pipeline that supplies countries across Europe in an attempt to undermine the democratic government of Ukraine, which, like Georgia, has refused to become a Kremlin vassal.
The midwinter blackmail, personally overseen by Mr. Medvedev’s mentor, Vladimir Putin, has had the effect of vitalizing a project that once looked like little more than a pipe dream. Nabucco, which will extend 2,000 miles and cost more than $10 billion to construct, was championed tirelessly by the Bush administration. But the countries that would most benefit from it, such as Hungary and Austria, were more interested in negotiating new pipeline routes with Russia until recently. Now they appear to recognize that diversifying their sources of gas is essential to their national security — and also to promoting a Russia that will not seek to use its natural resources as a means to rebuild the Soviet empire.