Gas! Russia's Carrot to Control Europe
It's all about the gas. Russian gas to Poland, Germany, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and beyond has been Putin's carrot to control and to meddle at will and whim in Central and Eastern Europe. As Europe's "gas station" and because of Europe's large dependence on Russian gas, Putin has been able to menace in Ukraine as he deems fit. Gas! Germany, Putin believes, an anchor partner of the EU and NATO, will become skeptical to endorse deepening US proposed sanctions on Russia. Moreover, Putin is hoping that a rift emerges within the EU and NATO partners, upon which he would quickly stoke to his advantage to meddle more in Ukraine and beyond. But Putin could win the gas variable, for already Germany's foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier is making statements to the effect: "I sometimes wish that the same engagement being used for the debate about sanctions would also exist when it comes to avoiding a further escalation...We've already exhaustively discussed the sanctions issue," Reuters attributed to the German minister. But the German fails to take into account that de-escalation of the crisis in Ukraine could only come from Russian action, and Putin will not stand down until painful effects are incurred by his regime. Germany, as a partner to stability, should be following the lead of those former soviet-states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, who are most dependent on Russian gas, and act to reduce German dependence on Russian gas. These nations are moving quickly to reduce their reliance on Russia. The choice of a floating gas terminal for these Baltic states, re-emphasizes the urgency these states feel to liberate themselves from Russian gas. Poland is working on a new liquid gas terminal that would allow it to buy energy from sources other than Russia. As reported by the AP, Estonia and Finland are talking about building two new gas terminals on the Baltic. Even though some of these alternatives are expensive, these nations are pressing ahead to diversify from Russian gas reliance. So, soon, Putin might find fewer refuelers at his "gas station".