The May issue of Diplomaatia opens with an article by Matthew J. Bryza, Director of the International Centre for Defence Studies (ICDS), and Emmet C. Tuohy, a Research Fellow at ICDS, on the energy security of the Baltic states, their gas supply options, Gazprom and the establishment of a unified EU energy market.
“More than two decades after the end of the Soviet occupation, and eight years after they joined NATO and the European Union, the Baltic republics remain disintegrated from the rest of Europe in one crucial way: their natural gas infrastructure isolates them into ‘energy islands’,” write Bryza and Tuohy. “Yet, for the first time in their histories, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania now have a chance to secure their energy independence by connecting their natural gas networks with those of their European allies and evolving them into market-based trading systems.“
According to Bryza and Tuohy, this will require the Baltic republics to work with their EU partners to develop the physical and regulatory infrastructure necessary for liquid trading hubs and spot-market pricing of natural gas to emerge in the region. In their view, “by achieving these objectives, these three small countries on the EU’s periphery will help the EU achieve two key strategic goals: to establish a single European energy market; and to complete the full integration of the EU’s easternmost member states into a Europe that is whole and free.”
Olga Khvostunova, an analyst at the Institute of Modern Russia, describes how Gazprom “snoozed through the shale gas revolution.” She claims that the so-called shale gas revolution in the United States is changing the world’s energy map. “The International Energy Agency’s latest predictions suggest that by 2035 America will have become the world’s largest gas producer, outpacing Russia,” writes Khvostunova. “Until recently, Gazprom, Russia’s natural gas monopoly, has been sceptical about such forecasts. But Gazprom’s lack of long-term vision can have negative implications both for the company and for the country.”
Richard Weitz, a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, analyses the handover of responsibility for security in Afghanistan. Although the bulk of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is supposed to leave the country next year, NATO will retain sufficient assets there through 2014 to resume direct combat operations if necessary. According to Weitz, the earlier insistence on a condition-based pull-out, that would relate ISAF troop withdrawals to concrete evidence of improved Afghan military capacity, has been largely replaced by a fixed withdrawal timetable. “This approach, while corresponding to political realities in the Western democracies, unfortunately feeds Afghan expectations that the West will once again abandon their country and emboldens Iran and Pakistan to make plans presuming a post-NATO security vacuum in Afghanistan that they are eager to fill,” concludes Weitz.
Journalist Jaanus Piirsalu explores the quagmire of complexities related to Chechens, the North Caucasus and international terrorism against the backdrop of the Boston Marathon bombings. Piirsalu insists that no conclusions can be drawn from just one case, the more so as it has not been conclusively proved that the Tsarnaevs, the two Chechen brothers who allegedly perpetrated the attack in Boston, had links with Islamist radicals in the North Caucasus region. Even so, it could be only a matter of time before young people who have grown up in the midst of the decades-long violence in the North Caucasus become instruments to be exploited by international terrorism outside Russia as well.
In the book review section, Lauri Mälksoo, Executive Director of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute, introduces the latest book by Professor Rein Müllerson, Regime Change: From Democratic Peace Theories to Forcible Regime Change. The In Memoriam section offers Merle Maigre’s thoughts on the recently departed Italian statesman Giulio Andreotti.