RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Jan 6th, 2009

060109.jpgTODAY: Putin orders further cuts to Ukraine; Bulgaria supplies at ‘critical’ levels; EU officials forecasting further cuts.  Russia’s analysts offer predictable predictions; the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has ordered further cuts to Ukraine’s gas supply – supposedly of 20%, although Naftogaz reports the drop at around two thirds.  A Gazprom statement says the cut corresponds to the amount of gas – 65.3 million cubic meters – that Naftogaz ‘stole‘ (or ‘diverted‘, depending on your source).  Greece, Macedonia and Turkey have now all had their supplies via Ukraine suspended, and Bulgaria, which relies almost entirely on Russian gas, says gas supplies are at critical‘ levels.  Hungary’s major oil and gas company says it has had to tap into reserves to cover a gas shortfall.  Read a summary of affected countries here.

EU officials meeting early yesterday to discuss the energy situation played down the impact of the dispute, conceding only to ‘some irregularities‘, but EU ambassadors are now forecasting further potential cuts.  The Times points out the damaging effect that Russia’s actions are having on whatever trust is left in its ‘perceived reliability as Europe’s energy supplier‘.  The Economist sees the cut as ‘customary‘, and predicts that a resolution will be reached shortly.

Russia’s fêted Professor Igor Panarin apparently believes ‘that the US will fall apart in or around the year 2010.‘  And Pro-Kremlin observers’ ‘assertions that Putin and Medvedev are “like-minded” are not persuasive‘.

Is Russia using the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to ‘promote its anti-Western agenda‘?  Or is this comment piece just more ‘Russia-baiting‘…

PHOTO: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin poses for a photo as he skis at a slope outside the Black Sea resort of Sochi, southern Russia, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Pool)