As Moscow Shifts to Eastern Energy Vector, Gazprom Faces Uncertain Future

Gazprom has long enjoyed the title of Russia’s “national energy champion,” but in a race to meet rising energy demand in Asia, Moscow’s shifting gas strategy could enable the rise of alternative gas producers Rosneft and Novatek, and weaken Gazprom’s position at home and abroad. Novatek, Russia’s second-largest natural gas producer, is working hard to bring the Yamal LNG project online and to secure future gas export contracts to Asia. Meanwhile, after recently acquiring significant offshore natural gas reserves, Russian oil major Rosneft has announced plans to enter the Russian gas market and has chosen independent gas producer ITERA to operate its future gas projects, increasing competitive pressure on both Gazprom and Novatek. A government decision to liberalize LNG exports, anticipated very soon, could be the final straw that breaks Gazprom’s stranglehold on the Russian gas export market. Yet, Gazprom remains hopeful in light of new supply agreements with China. Now, all three gas producers are gearing up for a heated competition over the future direction of the Russian gas industry.

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War Games in the Caucasus

The extensive Kavkaz-2012 (Caucasus-2012) military exercises, completed in southern Russia in the second half of September, were mostly characterised in the media as war games aimed at safeguarding internal security.
The manoeuvres were conducted against the backdrop of continued volatility in the North Caucasus and the Sochi Winter Olympic Games looming large on the horizon.
But in fact the Kavkaz-2012 manoeuvres could contain the seeds of preparations for a full-scale conventional conflict that would involve Russia and its neighbouring countries.

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Two articles, four years and Russia’s war plans

Over the last four years, two significant articles have been published in the Russian media. The first one appeared in April 2008, predicting the Russian-Georgian war; the second one came out this June, announcing President Putin’s order to start preparations for military operations outside Russian borders. The two articles share a number of similarities, but also diverge on some points.

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“Missile diplomacy” – Potemkin style

Any country with formidable military power at hand is susceptible to the temptations of using it. But this use does not necessarily involve breaking things or putting boots on someone’s ground. For centuries, military might has been employed as a tool to persuade the existing or potential opponents to do or not to do something as well as to assure the allies. Mere military presence or flexing one’s military muscles may have a greater impact on the calculations of the opponents than diplomacy alone – provided, of course, many things such as timing, communication of the threat and demand, nature of issues at stake are appropriate.

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Russian influence on Moldovan politics during the Putin era (2000-2008)

Vaatamata teatud edusammudele, mida Moldova Euroopaga integreerumise suunal aastatel 2000-2008 on teinud ning Euroopa Liidu suurenenud rollile riigis, on Moldova endiselt Venemaa tugevas haardes.

Gruusia-Venemaa sõda on andnud põhjust spekulatsioonideks sarnase stsenaariumi kordumise võimalikkusest Transnistrias. Moldova välispoliitika analüütikute väitel on taoliste sündmuste kordumine Moldova territooriumil siiski ebatõenäoline, sest Transnistria separatistlik regioon ei ole ainus viis Moldovat Venemaa mõjusfääris hoida. Selleks on eelkõige vaja ühiskonna killustatust ja vastuvõtlikust Venemaa propagandale ning Moldova on kahtlemata selleks viljakas pinnas.

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Transition in Georgian Foreign Policy: Reply to Bucharest Summit

Nino Ghvinadze graduated from Tbilisi State University (B.A.) in 2008. She studied International Relations in the Faculty of Social and Political Studies. In 2007-2008 Nino completed the Prometheus Programme on Transition Studies, at the European College, University of Tartu.

One of the positive sides of living and studying abroad is that you get the chance to look at the processes in your home country from distance. It gives the possibility to assess every event in accordance with both – the perceptions abroad and inside the country, making a sort of combination and comparison of these two. Otherwise it is quite hard to escape the clichés and pressing opinions existing within the local society.
Coming back home from Estonia, one of the pleasant surprises was the last developments in Georgian foreign policy representing a reply on Bucharest Summit.

Georgians, as every other people on the earth, are often pictured according to certain stereotypes. Among them emotionality is the most often cited I guess. Even policy analysts refer to it, while facing difficulties in explaining the unexpected turns in Georgian foreign policy.
Emotionality often goes hand in hand with the radical decisions and strong nationalistic attitudes characteristic for Georgian internal and foreign policies already from late 1980s and especially in the early years of re-independence.
This created a certain cliché – “uncontrolled and unbalanced policy of emotional Georgians” – most often manipulated with by Russian politicians.

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