The fickering of E.U.’s energy security

By Nina Bachkatov

In a month time, the EU should implement a ban adopted in full coordination with its G7 partners to end its oil dependency from Russia. The ban will unfold in two stages: the first, on 5 December 2022, concerns the crude oil; the second,  on 5 February 2023, will stop imports of refined petroleum products. This is in the line with the 8 packages of EU sanctions, mostly directed against energy imports from Russia. Already, Gazprom’s deliveries have been cut down by two thirds and are due to drop further. Coal and civilian nuclear produces are already sidelined, and Westinghouse has been more or less discreetly ‘contacting’ countries that had previously used Rosatom services. Energy specialists have published converging reports according to which, if things stay as they are, the West can face the winter without the anticipated level of sufferings. This results from combined decisions to fill storage’s facilities during the autumn, a political readiness to release strategic reserves in case of shortages; and the mobilisation of all the users to reduce their energy’s consumption.

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Grain war in the Black Sea

By Nina Bachkatov

Three months after the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, a new front has been open – about grain’s exports and global food security. The concept was hardly mentioned before the fall of Mariupol, when international attention switched from the fights around Azovstal to the inaccessibility of Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea. The accent has been put on its global consequences, from the prices’ increase of basic food in the West to the risk of famine in poor countries. In a couple of weeks, Westerners preoccupied with energy bills discovered that a third of the 200-300m tonnes of cereals exchanged yearly through the world were coming from Russia and Ukraine.

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Russia’s awareness of regional around Afghanistan

By Nina Bachkatov

For those waiting for clear Russian signals about Afghanistan, the clearest one came from President Putin himself on 3 September when he addressed a plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum. The Forum has been established by presidential decree in 2015 to support the economic development of the Eastern part of Russia and attract foreign investors. Putin’s message to the West, with whom Russia had tense relations, was to remind that the Russian eagle on the flag had to heads, one looking West and the other East. By chance, it was from Vladivostok that Putin found himself explaining Russian positions, about Afghanistan, after a Western debacle.

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Belarus going nuclear, against all odds

By Nina Bachkatov

Technically speaking, the preliminary report of the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) about the Ostrovets Belarusian Nuclear Power Station reflects E.U. worries about its security. But political considerations are part of the equation, bearing in mind Belarus’ internal situation, the tortuous relations between the European Union and its Eastern Partnership’s allies, the unfinished creation of a single Baltic grid. And, the relations of the different actors with Russia. Continue reading “Belarus going nuclear, against all odds”