A well-known political analyst and expert on energy diplomacy Mr.Bakhtiyar Aslanbayli has answered questions dedicated to energy relations of Russian Federation and Ukraine following the “Maidan” revolution
* When “Euro Maidan” movement started in Ukraine, it is main energy supplier – Russia suddenly declares about increasing prices of natural gas. In your judgment, is it connected with European orientation of new Ukrainian government?
Surely, increasing of gas prices, as well as all new geopolitical situation in the region are directly related with possible western orientation of Ukraine. By losing Ukraine (geopolitically), and potential EU enlargement will bring EU east borders very close to Russia, without any buffering zone between. This was interpreted by Russia, as a “necessity to intervene”.
* In 2009, Ukraine has signed bilateral energy agreement with Russian “GazProm” and twice could achieve a discount for natural gas. GazProm provided a discount around 100 USD for thousand (1000) cubic m. in April of 2010. Will that agreement conditions be active for Yatsenyuk’s cabinet?
I don’t believe that t e prices stipulated in 2009 are effective anymore. In fact, Russia already declared that the natural gas prices for Ukraine have been increased to $385.5 for thousand cubic meters since April 2014. However, this was challenged by some Russian experts (e.g. Mikhail Krutikhin, Partner of RusEnergy), who stated that actually the “not-discounted” price under the contract should be $485.5. According to Krutikhin although it was officially declared that prices are not discounted anymore, in fact, the reality is different. This could be a result of either “under carpet” agreement with Ukrainian government to continue supply of utilities to Crimea, or any other political intension.
* How could you estimate an annexation of Crimea by Russian Federation from political and economic points of view?
From political point of view this is annexation and occupation. The territorial integrity of Ukraine must to be restored and status quo shall not be accepted.
From economic point of view, the negative economic results of this annexation the local population of the Crimea would feel not later than 1 year. Comparison of economic situation in Abkhasia and Osetia before and after annexation could be good example in this context.
* What kind of perspectives will CIS countries win from tense relations between two actors in the region?
By annexation of Crimea Russia’s political influence in CIS countries has been significantly damaged. One way or another, all CIS countries would now consider (although very carefully) different options for decreasing economic and political dependence. Russia lost it’s political reliability and it would be now extremely difficult to unite CIS countries in any new geopolitical organization.
Small group of CIS countries – Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan should now more actively build up relations and cooperation with NATO and EU to increase their security level. But those interaction have to be extremely careful taking into account the existing geopolitical sensitivity.
* Is it real to describe Ukraine’s next attempts on energy diplomacy in order to ensure it is own energy security?
Ukraine’s energy dependency on Russia would continue for a while. Ukraine’s energy security should be viewed in line with energy security of other Eastern European countries. It would not be possible to avoid Russian energy sources, but some steps for further diversification of energy supply must be taken.