This comes from an interview with the opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, who recently published a book in Russia which alleges that Gazprom is used as a money laundering vehicle to line the pockets of numerous officials in the Kremlin. The interview was conducted by Mumin Shakirov (M.S.) for Russia Profile.
M.S.: Is Gazprom a weapon for blackmailing the West, or a tool for stuffing the pockets of the Kremlin bureaucrats?
B.N.: Both. Gazprom is Putin’s personal project, and a massive source of money at that. Gazprom’s annual earnings account for $94 billion–the most powerful geopolitical weapon.
M.S.: Does the Kremlin put this weapon to good use?
B.N.: Having seen Moscow blackmail Ukraine andBelarus, the West has realized that it should not let Gazprom intointernal European markets. These are huge financial losses for Moscow.The West has started looking for alternative options and opportunities,e.g. liquefied natural gas. If 1,000 cubic meters of gas cost $500, LNGtanker shipments become viable.
Besides, Gazprom is poorly managed. It has borrowed tons of money fromthe West, and its debts exceed $60 billion. In the past nine years,Gazprom has not increased its gas output. While the existing gas fieldsare being depleted, new ones have not been discovered.