Vladimir Socor

Vladimir Socor is a Senior Fellow of the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation and its flagship publication, Eurasia Daily Monitor (1995 to date), where he writes analytical articles on a daily basis. An internationally recognized expert on the former Soviet-ruled countries in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus, and Central Asia, he covers Russian and Western policies, focusing on energy, regional security issues, Russian foreign affairs, secessionist conflicts, and NATO policies and programs. Mr. Socor is a frequent speaker at U.S. and European policy conferences and think-tank institutions; as well as a regular guest lecturer at the NATO Defense College and at Harvard University’s National Security Program’s Black Sea Program. He is also a frequent contributor to edited volumes. Mr. Socor was previously an analyst with the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Research Institute (1983-1994). He is a Romanian-born citizen of the United States based in Munich, Germany.

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Articles by Vladimir Socor

NATO-Georgia: Varied Menu, Uncertain Financing

It was a summit of modest expectations and modest results for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Warsaw on July 8–9. These results are of an interim nature: building-blocks

John Kerry’s Unwelcome Message in Ukraine

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland held talks with President Petro Poroshenko and other Ukrainian officials, in Kyiv on July 7. At the joint news

Nord Stream Two in Ukrainian Perspective

At Russia’s initiative, the Nord Stream Two natural gas pipeline project has advanced from agreements of intent to a binding agreement; and Gazprom has formed the project consortium with several

Ukraine Rapidly Dismantling Gazprom’s Supply Monopoly

Quantitative indicators show a dramatic reorientation of Ukraine’s natural gas supply strategy. Dependence on Gazprom has become a thing of the past. Kyiv demonstrates political resolve to pursue supply diversification

Russia Subverting Armistice in Ukraine

Russia is using the ceasefire as an opportunity to cement and expand its military presence, directly as well as through the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” (DPR, LPR). Following the

Putin Suggests Own Terms for a Dialogue With Ukraine

Addressing an international investment forum in Moscow yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin adopted an unusually restrained tone toward Ukraine. In effect, Putin seems to suggest a framework for political dialogue

Putin’s Ceasefire Plan Sets Traps for Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin has Ukraine cornered on the battlefield and in diplomatic negotiations at this moment (see accompanying article). On September 3, Putin proposed a seven-point ceasefire plan to

Russia’s Donetsk Proxies Anticipate Ukrainian Siege

The newly-installed “prime minister of the Donetsk people’s republic (DPR),” Aleksandr Zakharchenko, was apparently asked to convey a reassuring message to Russia’s public in anticipation of a Ukrainian siege of

Donetsk ‘Republic’ Leaders’ Morale Plummeting

Intercepts of Moscow-Donetsk telephone conversations, made public by Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU), reveal pessimism and demoralization on the part of at least some of the secessionist “republic’s” leadership. On July

Russia Pressures Ukraine to Prolong the Ceasefire

Ukraine’s unilateral ceasefire, announced by President Petro Poroshenko on June 20, expires today (June 27). Russia and its proxy forces in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions (Donbas) have actively undermined

Russia Suspends Natural Gas Supplies to Ukraine

On June 16, Russia suspended natural gas supplies to Ukraine over non-payment of debts for supplies already delivered. Russia would resume the supplies on condition that Ukraine pays in advance

Dead in Geneva: The Compromise With Russia on Ukraine

Russia is inadvertently helping Ukraine, the United States and the European Union to escape the trap of the April 17 Geneva Joint Diplomatic Statement “On the Situation in Ukraine” (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/04/224957.htm).

Russia Completes the Annexation of Crimea

Addressing Russia’s bicameral parliament on March 18, President Vladimir Putin announced Crimea’s incorporation into the Russian Federation. The founding documents on Crimea’s “admission” into Russia were signed on the same

NATO and Ukraine’s Security Vacuum

Russia has seized Crimea from Ukraine by military force, wholly unprovoked, and without having to fire a shot (see EDM, February 28, March 3–7, 10). Furthermore, Russia has “legislated” its

Russian Putsch in Crimea Under Pseudo-Legal Cover

In the pre-dawn hours on February 27 in Simferopol, some 50 heavily armed Russian men in camouflage uniforms without identification marks seized the parliament and government buildings of the Crimean

Russian Energy Projects and Hungarian Politics

Hungary’s Fidesz-led government under Viktor Orban, conservative and Europe-oriented in a traditionalist sense, and strongly anti-communist ever since Fidesz’s formative years, has turned toward Russia for solutions to some of

Gazprom Advances in Germany

Russian Gazprom is taking over most of the core business of its German partner, Wintershall, in the natural gas trade and storage business. The two companies had conducted that business

Russia Conducts Trade Warfare on Multiple Fronts

Russia’s trade restrictions against Lithuania (ban on Lithuanian dairy products since October 7, threats to ban meat and fish products, harassment of Lithuanian road transport at the Russian border—see EDM,

Azerbaijan Earns Deferential Treatment from Moscow

Among the six countries in the European Union’s Eastern Partnership program, Azerbaijan under its President Ilham Aliyev seems uniquely impervious to Russian forms of leverage and, consequently, unique in receiving

Ukraine’s Gas Storage System: A Unique Asset in Europe

Addressing Gazprom’s annual general meeting of shareholders, CEO Alexei Miller warned that Gazprom would “never again, under any circumstances” use Ukraine’s gas storage system in the process of delivering Russian

Ukraine Diversifies Gas Suppliers, Slashes Imports from Gazprom

Ukraine has recently initiated procurement of natural gas from European suppliers. These volumes are small but growing, correspondingly eroding Gazprom’s market share in Ukraine.The German Rheinisch-Westfaelisches Elektrizitaetswerk (RWE) is providing

Old and New Options Considered in the Post-Nabucco Era

Planning the Southern Gas Corridor to Europe, the European Commission in Brussels had defined the Nabucco pipeline project as the corridor’s mainstay. With Nabucco-West’s official demise (see accompanying article and

The Curtain Falls on Nabucco’s Last Act

Nabucco-West, the pipeline project that was to have carried Azerbaijani gas from Turkey to the Central European Gas Hub near Vienna, is exiting from the stage. There will be no

Azerbaijan Wins Tender for Gas Pipelines in Greece

On June 21, Greece’s State Assets Development Fund announced that Azerbaijan’s State Oil Company (SOCAR) has won the tender to acquire control of Greek DESFA’s (Public Gas Transmission System Operator)

Igor Sechin Door-Crashing in Croatia

Croatia is set to join the European Union as a full member on July 1. This makes Croatia a more attractive object of Russian energy interests. The head of Zarubezhneft

EDM analysts cited in Eurasia Review article

Jamestown analysts Roger McDermott, Vladimir Socor, Pavel Felgenhauer, Georgiy Voloshin, Richard Weitz, and Dumitru Minzarari were cited in an article by Ariel Cohen in Eurasia Review.

Georgia’s Reset and Russia’s Response (Part Three)

Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili supervises Georgia’s policy toward Russia through his special envoy, veteran diplomat Zurab Abashidze. This appointment has led to the establishment of a bilateral negotiating channel between

Polish Government Sheds Light on Gazprom-EuroPolGaz MOU

Poland’s Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, has announced some strong measures in response to the April 5 memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between EuroPolGaz and Russian Gazprom, negotiated behind the Polish government’s

Vladimir Socor quoted by Zawya

Jamestown analyst Vladimir Socor was quoted by Zawya in an article titled Nabucco, TAP battle it out for Azeri gas deal.

Ukraine Importing Gas from Germany via Hungary and Poland

Denting Russian Gazprom’s monopoly, Ukraine is procuring small but growing volumes of natural gas from Europe. The German Rheinisch-Westfaelisches Elektrizitaetswerk (RWE) is providing the volumes through its subsidiary, RWE Supply

Angela Merkel Opens a European Perspective for Moldova

Visiting Moldova on August 22 (see accompanying article), German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared twice unambiguously that Moldova does have a “European perspective”—albeit in a “step-by-step process”; and “we shall accompany

Croatia Can Call Gazprom’s Bluff on South Stream

Moscow is “pressuring” Croatia to join Gazprom’s South Stream project urgently, before Croatia’s accession to the European Union takes legal effect in 2013. An internal analysis, prepared by Croatian government

Gazprom’s Shtokman Project: Relic of a Past Era

On August 7, Norway’s Statoil announced its exit from the super-giant Shtokman gas field development in the Russian Arctic. The Norwegian company, majority state-owned, is writing off its investment into

Hungarian MOL Goes Upstream in Kazakhstani Projects

On July 19, Hungarian-based MOL entered into a partnership with Kazmunaigaz E&P (Exploration & Production, the upstream subsidiary of the national company Kazmunaigaz) to develop the North Karpovsky oil and

NATO and Georgia: Beyond the Open Door

NATO’s summit on May 20 in Chicago has brought Georgia slightly closer to the “open door” of membership in the Alliance. The Chicago summit’s declaration reaffirms earlier decisions, committing NATO

Nabucco-West in Synergy with Trans-Anatolia Project

Hungary’s critique of the Nabucco project (see accompanying article) has prompted the other partners in the consortium to express their own views. On the whole, these reflect the stakeholders’ common

Hungary Casts Serious Doubt on the Nabucco Project

Hungary has raised some serious questions about the viability of the Nabucco gas pipeline project and the performance of the project company’s management. The Hungarian critique has strongly reverberated in

Chevron Postpones Shale Gas Exploration in Romania

After Bulgaria (see EDM, January 24), Romania might unnecessarily miss its own chance to explore a promising shale gas potential in partnership with the Chevron Corporation. Unlike the Bulgarian situation,

Russian Oil Companies Buying West European Refineries

Russian oil companies Gunvor, Rosneft, and Lukoil are spearheading what looks like an acquisition spree of refining capacities in Western Europe. Some West-European authorities accept without qualms and even welcome

Lithuania Contracts for LNG Terminal

In 2011, Lithuania became the first European Union member country to enact EU energy market reform on national territory (see EDM, July 7, 2011). Lithuania opted for the most far-reaching

Confidence in the Nabucco Project Fading

Confidence in the viability of the Nabucco project – at least in its version envisaged from 2004 to 2011 – seems to be fading all around. On January 25, the

Russian Oil Business Targeting EU’s Entrant Croatia

Croatia has become the newest member of the European Union, with a national referendum on January 22 capping the accession process. The government-controlled JANAF (Jadranski Naftovod – Adriatic Oil Transportation)

Russia Blocks Consensus At OSCE’s Year-End Conference

On December 6-7 in Vilnius, the OSCE’s year-end ministerial conference dramatized this organization’s vulnerability to sabotage by the Kremlin. That vulnerability is inherent in the OSCE’s own structure and modus

US, NATO Acknowledge Russian Kill of CFE Treaty

In December 2007, Moscow killed the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) officially, declaring a unilateral “moratorium” (suspension) of indefinite duration on Russia’s compliance with the CFE treaty and

Inspections At Gazprom In the EU: Why Now?

The European Commission has launched a round of inspections at Gazprom’s affiliate companies in EU member countries. This is the opening stage in an anti-trust investigation of the Russian monopoly’s

Turkey Seeks Price Cut On Russian Gas

Turkey has joined the growing ranks of claimants to revision of their contracts with Gazprom. On September 29, Turkish Energy Minister, Taner Yildiz, warned that Turkey would end a 25-year-old

Nabucco’s Rivals Deploy Their Counter-Arguments

Baku expects three gas transportation consortiums to submit competing bids by October for the gas production of Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz field, Phase Two. The rival projects are Nabucco (Turkey-Bulgaria-Romania-Hungary-Austria, potentially

Russia Proposes to Codify Intervention Right Via CSTO

CSTO’s Secretary-General, Nikolai Bordyuzha, has expatiated on proposals to use the Collective Security Treaty Organization as a tool of Russian intervention within member countries. His latest statements focus on managing

Major Gas Discovery Announced In Azerbaijan

The French company, Total, and Azerbaijan’s State Oil Company (SOCAR) have announced a major gas discovery at the offshore Absheron field. According to Total, the first results from the exploration

Nabucco Project Can Advance Faster Than Rivals

Nabucco, the strategic project for transportation of Caspian gas to Europe, seems threatened by the non-strategic pipeline projects, ITGI (Interconnector Turkey-Greece-Italy) and TAP (Trans-Adriatic Pipeline). These are less advanced, compared

Hungarian MOL Harassed In EU Entrant Croatia

Within days after the European Commission had cleared Croatia to join the EU (Financial Times, June 22), political harassment of Hungarian MOL has intensified in Croatia. Russian interests are conveniently

France, Russia Sign Contract On Mistral Warships

As a highlight of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (see EDM, June 20), Russian President Dmitry Medvedev witnessed the signing of the contract for two French Mistral-class warships to

German Initiatives Favor Russia On Transnistria Talks

(Part Two) In the context of Russo-German special relations, the German government proposes to restart international negotiations on the Transnistria conflict from a modified basis, one largely favorable to Russian

Russia to the West’s Rescue in Libya?

As predicted from the outset of the Libya crisis (EDM, April 21, 26), Russia now officially proposes to “help” extricate the Western belligerents from their difficulties in Libya. Moreover, Moscow’s

Surgut’s Exit From Hungary Is a Success for Europe

Hungary’s government has successfully completed negotiations with the Russian government and Surgutneftegaz about the latter’s exit from Hungary. The government is purchasing Surgut’s 21.2 percent stake in the oil and

Moscow Encourages Turmoil in Georgia

Moscow has stimulated the radical opposition’s actions in Tbilisi (see EDM, May 24), and stands ready to exploit the unrest. Russian state television channels provide sympathetic, over-dramatized coverage of the

NATO in Libya: An Improvised Intervention

The United States kick-started the Libya operation on March 19, in charge of Operation Odyssey Dawn, and launching air and missile strikes until April 3. The French, British, and several

Russia Seeks China’s Support on Libya Crisis

On May 6 in Moscow, President Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov each received Lavrov’s Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi. According to Lavrov at the concluding news conference, Russia

NATO Clarifies Goals in Libya

NATO allies seek additional military, political, and financial means to overcome the unanticipated stalemate in Libya. Alliance leaders are also addressing incipient symptoms of fatigue with the seemingly protracted operation,

Russia Unveils Political Objectives In Libya

Russia’s abstention on the UN Security Council Resolution 1973 helped open the door to Western military action on a limited scale in Libya. The Obama administration led the military action

Moscow Positioning To Exploit Libya Stalemate

The United States and Western Europe’s residual military powers have undertaken in Libya another war of choice. Russia ushered them into it by not vetoing the UN Security Council’s resolution

Putin Persists With LNG-Zing the South Stream Project

On March 21, at his Novo Ogaryovo residence, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to negotiate German Wintershall’s accession to Gazprom’s South

Moscow Backs Surgut’s Push in Hungary

Co-chairing a session of the Russian-Hungarian Intergovernmental Economic Cooperation Commission in Moscow, Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov asked Hungary to eliminate “subjective” obstacles to Russian investments there (MTI, March 21).

Putin Looks For LNG Exit From South Stream

On March 9, the Russian government’s official websites published a transcript of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s and Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko’s “working meeting,” held that day in Putin’s office. Putin

Southern Gas Corridor Risks Loss Of Strategic Focus

“Achieving the objectives of the Southern Corridor,” in the European Commission’s phrase (EurActiv, February 19), implies commitment to its strategic purpose. This is to supply countries along the Nabucco project’s

Cost And Supply Issues Delay The Nabucco Project

The Nabucco pipeline consortium has discreetly postponed its final investment decision by another year, this time until early 2012, with construction to start in 2012 “at the earliest” (Dow Jones,

Russia Mothballs Trans-Balkan Oil Pipeline Project

On February 17, the stakeholders and supervisory board of the Russian-led Burgas-Alexandropolis oil pipeline project shelved the project in all but name. The host countries, Bulgaria and Greece, had (each

South Stream CEO Makes The Case For The Project

Launched in 2007, Gazprom’s South Stream project ran out of potential gas resources by 2009 (thanks primarily to Turkmenistan’s reorientation), and out of potential financing at the same time (due

Made In Germany For Russia’s Army

Germany is joining a scramble among West-European producers of military equipment for Russian orders. NATO and the United States are silent bystanders to this growing trend, which challenges the Alliance’s

Georgia Provides More Security Than it Consumes

Addressing the annual international security forum in Munich –the highest-level NATO event between the Alliance’s summits–Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili, had the temerity to talk strategy. His address stood out in

Lithuania Assumes the Chairmanship of the OSCE

Chairing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2010, Kazakhstan showed that it is possible to bring a successful chairmanship to a failing organization. Prerequisites to a

France, Russia Sign Mistral Agreement

“Paris is well-worth a [Catholic] mass” (“Paris vaut-bien une messe”), King Henri IV, a Protestant, remarked when told that his attendance at a Catholic Church service was the price for

Russia Prepares to Re-Enter Afghanistan

Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, and Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, received the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, on January 21-23 for an official visit. It was the first Russian-Afghan presidential-level meeting since

TAPI: The Audacity of Pipeline Hope

On December 11 in Ashgabat, the top officials of four participant countries signed agreements on a Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, favored on and off (currently on again) by the

Turkmenistan Encourages Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline

Framework agreements on a Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline (TAPI) are scheduled for signing by high-level officials of the four countries on December 11 in Ashgabat (Turkmen Television, Press Trust of India, December

NATO Disinclined to Debate Mistral Affair

Debate on the implications of military sales to Russia is stifled in NATO. The proposed sale of French Mistral-class warships to Russia is by far the largest among possible Russian

Wikileaks Perturb US-Azerbaijan Relations (Part Two)

The US Embassy’s February 25, 2010 report from Baku opens an almost panoramic view on the current state of the bilateral relationship (http://cablegate.wikileaks.org). Two aspects stand out in this comprehensive

Wikileaks Perturb US-Azerbaijan Relations (Part One)

Perhaps more than the WikiLeaks themselves, it is the massive security breach and counterintelligence failure that will, for some time to come, discourage candid conversations between the US government and

Bulgaria Rejoins Gazprom’s South Stream Project

On November 13 in Sofia, Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, and his Bulgarian counterpart, Boyko Borissov, witnessed the signing of Bulgaria’s accession to Gazprom’s South Stream project (Interfax, BTA, Novinite,

Russia Targeting Oil Assets in Poland and Lithuania

On October 30, Poland announced its intention to privatize the state-owned majority stake in the country’s second-largest oil industry concern, Lotos Group. The Polish government is inviting interested parties to

Croatian Government Hesitates on Gas Sector Reform

European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, recently indicated to the visiting Croatian Prime Minister, Jadranka Kosor, that Croatia’s accession talks to join the EU may be completed by the end

Another Chance for the Odessa-Brody Pipeline

Using the Odessa-Brody oil pipeline as originally intended, south-north, is under active consideration again; this time, by the governments of Ukraine and Belarus. The pipeline is being used since 2004

Demand Growing for Azerbaijani Gas

On October 7 in Baku, BP signed a production sharing agreement with Azerbaijan’s State Oil Company (SOCAR) for the exploration and development of the Shafag and Asiman gas blocks in

NATO Secretary-General Pays Unedifying Visit To Georgia

Thirteen months into his tenure, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen travelled to Georgia, the number one troop-contributing country on a per capita basis to NATO’s mission in Afghanistan. Rasmussen’s October

Warsaw Wavers Between Brussels and Gazprom

Moscow has apparently chosen Poland as a ground for testing the European Union’s common energy policy. In ongoing negotiations for a new supply agreement, Gazprom seeks to pressure Poland to

Russia Inhibits U.S. Defense Assistance to Georgia

Visiting Washington on September 15-17, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov asked for the US to consider military equipment sales to Russia. Conversely, Serdyukov announced despite US objections that Russia would

Gazprom’s South Stream Set Back On Several Fronts

Turkmen President, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov’s, September 16 statement, explicitly linking the Turkmen East-West gas pipeline with the European Union-backed Nabucco project (EDM, September 17), is not only a boost for Nabucco,

Russia Deploys S-300 Air Defense Systems in Abkhazia

Russian state news agencies announced today (August 11) that Russia’s armed forces have deployed the advanced S-300 air defense missile systems in Abkhazia, a territory that Moscow recognizes as “independent.”

EU Supports Nabucco Against South Stream

On July 30 in Berlin, Gazprom’s Vice-President, Aleksandr Medvedev, deprecated the EU-backed Nabucco project and claimed that Russia would imminently proceed with the rival South Stream. “There is complete certainty

Loopholes Opening in US, EU Sanctions on Iran

The United States and the European Union have imposed on July 1 and July 26, respectively, a new round of sanctions of unprecedented severity, presuming to hinder Iran’s uranium-enrichment program.

Mistral Saga: Igor Sechin Se Moque De Paris

The French ambassador to Estonia, Frederic Billet, has asked the host country to look positively at the French sale of Mistral-class warships to Russia. The ambassador told Estonian media that

MOL Well Placed to Fend off Surgut’s New Move

Russia’s Surgutneftegaz has filed a case in Budapest’s Metropolitan Court, seeking legal registration as a stakeholder in Hungarian MOL, the national oil and gas company. Surgut is asking the court

Interest Surging in Azerbaijani Gas (Part Two)

International demand for Azeri gas (EDM, July 1) is also rising outside the European Union. It is mostly driven by the anticipation of post-crisis industrial recovery and by considerations of

Interest Surging in Azerbaijani Gas

Demand for Azerbaijani natural gas is surging, with potential buyers scrambling to Baku. The gas transit agreements, signed by Azerbaijan and Turkey on June 7, have opened prospects for unimpeded

Russia Defends Soviet Occupation of Moldova

On June 24, Moldova’s interim president Mihai Ghimpu issued a decree instituting June 28 as the Day of Remembrance of the Soviet Occupation—an event that occurred on June 28, 1940

Gazprom Again Reconfigures the South Stream Project

Bulgaria’s suspension of the South Stream project on its territory is forcing Gazprom to reconfigure South Stream’s overall geography, with uncertain options and prospects (EDM, June 14, 18, 22). Gazprom

Gazprom Seduces Romania With South Stream

On June 16 in Moscow, Gazprom CEO, Aleksei Miller, and Romanian Economy Minister, Adriean Videanu, agreed on steps to bring Romania, instead of Bulgaria, into the South Stream project; and

Bulgarian Government Disavows Three Russian Energy Projects

Bulgarian government statements on June 11-12 have conclusively disavowed Russia’s projects to build the South Stream gas pipeline, Burgas-Alexandropolis oil pipeline, and Belene nuclear power plant, on Bulgaria’s territory.These announcements

NATO Can Use Article Four to Consult About Arms Sales

Russian officials have hinted all along that Russia’s four naval fleets (Northern, Baltic, Black Sea, and Pacific) would receive one French Mistral-class warship each, if the Franco-Russian deal materializes as

Moscow Keeps Paris on Edge Over the Mistral Affair

Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili, paid an official visit to France on June 8-9, back-to-back with Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin’s, June 10-11 visit there. The proposed sale of French Mistral

Turkmen Gas Export Diversification: An Overview

The start of construction on the East-West Turkmen pipeline (Turkmenistan Starts Construction of East-West Pipeline, EDM June 8) marks the third phase of Turkmenistan’s gas export diversification strategy. In just

Georgia Develops Functional Relations With Iran

On May 20-24, a delegation of Tehran journalists, led by the Iranian Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast (with deputy minister’s rank), visited Georgia. The group included journalists from Iranian

Putin Calls For Naftohaz Ukrainy-Gazprom Gas Merger

Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, has proposed a “merger“of Ukraine’s national energy company Naftohaz Ukrainy with Russia’s Gazprom. The proposal emerged during Putin’s April 30 meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister,

South Stream is Not a Ukraine Bypass Project

Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, stopped in Kyiv on April 27, following his discussions in Italy and Austria on the South Stream gas pipeline project (Austria Joins Gazprom’s South Stream

Austria Joins Gazprom’s South Stream Project

On April 24, Russia and Austria signed governmental and corporate agreements on Austria’s accession to Russia’s South Stream gas pipeline project. Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, led the Russian delegation to

US Conflict Resolution Policy Backfires in Yerevan

The US State Department seems disappointed, but not entirely surprised, by Yerevan’s April 22 suspension of Armenian-Turkish “normalization.” Assistant Secretary of State, Philip Gordon, in charge of this policy, finds

Is the United States Losing Azerbaijan?: Part One

Azerbaijan’s long-standing alignment with the United States is rapidly unraveling in the wake of Washington’s recent policy initiatives. As perceived from Baku, those US initiatives fly in the face of

The UN Accepts CSTO as a Regional Security Organization

On March 18, in Moscow, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Collective Security Treaty Organization’s (CSTO) Secretary-General, Nikolay Bordyuzha, signed a declaration on cooperation between the two secretariats. The

Gazprom’s Partner ENI Loses Confidence in South Stream

Italy’s ENI chief executive, Paolo Scaroni, has proposed unifying the Gazprom-led South Stream with the European Union-backed Nabucco pipeline project. The Italian state-controlled energy conglomerate ENI is the key technological

Brussels Ready to Work with Yanukovych for Ukraine

Ukraine’s newly elected President, Viktor Yanukovych, chose Brussels as his first destination for a working visit abroad. Inaugurated on February 25, Yanukovych held talks with European Union leaders on March

Medvedev in Paris: Vive la Georgie, Monsieur?

Alexander II, Tsar of Russia, visited France at the invitation of Emperor Napoleon III in 1867, three years after the Russian army’s bloody suppression of Poland’s revolt for independence. The

Russian Authorities Threaten BP Assets at Kovykta Project

Russia’s Natural Environment Inspectorate (RosPrirodNadzor) has recommended that BP’s joint venture in Russia, TNK-BP, be stripped of the giant Kovykta natural gas project in eastern Siberia (Interfax, February 19).Located in

Can Nabucco be Married Off to Gazprom?

Unexpectedly, the US State Department’s Special Envoy for Eurasian energy affairs, Richard Morningstar, seems to embrace the idea of allowing Gazprom to become a user of the Nabucco pipeline. Speaking

Hungary Signs South Stream Project Agreement

On January 31 in Budapest, Russian and Hungarian officials signed the project agreement for the construction of Gazprom’s South Stream pipeline on Hungarian territory. Hungary’s privately-owned MOL Company, a member

Gazprom Half-Acknowledges Pessimistic Outlook

Gazprom’s board of directors held its traditional start-of-year meeting on January 26 to set policies for 2010 (Interfax, January 26, 27). The decisions focus on marketing policy, rather than investment

Russian Oil Supply Cut Hits Belarusian Refineries

Moscow is tightening the squeeze on Belarus’ large-capacity, in the absence of an oil supply agreement for 2010, mainly on export-oriented refineries. The Mozyr and Navapolatsk refineries and other oil

Moscow Tightens Squeeze on Belarus Oil Industry

The Russian government threatens Belarus with an imminent cessation of oil supplies to the country’s two big refineries, Mozyr and Navapolatsk (aggregate capacity at least 25 million tons annually). The

Gazprom Wooing Croatia Ahead of Putin-Kosor Meeting

Interviewed in the current issue of Southeast European Times (January 12), Gazprom Vice-President (and Gazprom Export chief) Aleksandr Medvedev unveiled a program of business expansion throughout that region, with a

Russia Adjusting Regime Change Policy in Georgia

Reversing Carl Von Clausewitz’s dictum, Russia’s emergent policy toward Georgia is essentially a continuation of war by political means. Russia’s 2008 war and three-year economic blockade sought to change Georgia’s

Iran and Turkmenistan Inaugurate Gas Pipeline

On January 6 in Dauletabad, Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated a pipeline that runs from that giant Turkmen gas field to Iran. The government

Moscow Using Oil Export Duty to Pressure Belarus

Effective January 1, Russia has drastically reduced its traditional subsidy to the oil processing industry in Belarus and, thereby, to President Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s government. That industry in Belarus is processing

Russian Gas and Oil Projects on Hold in Bulgaria

On December 11 in Sofia, a regular meeting of the Russian-Bulgarian inter-governmental commission on economic cooperation failed to restart the three major Russian energy projects in Bulgaria: the South Stream

Moldovan Prime Minister Filat Reaches Out to Putin

Moldova’s simultaneous crises –economic and constitutional– have opened a door for Russia to influence politics in Chisinau and arbitrate the power struggles there. The dual crisis, ongoing since early spring,

Nabucco Investment Decision Postponed

On November 11 the Austrian OMV-led Nabucco management announced that the investment decision on the project will be postponed, from early 2010 to the fourth quarter of that year. There

Nord Stream Pipeline Project Still Short of Resources

Four years after Germans and Russians signed the founding agreement (October 2005), the Nord Stream pipeline project has received the Scandinavian countries’ approval for construction on the Baltic seabed, from

Allons Enfants de la Russie in the Black Sea?

The French government and, apparently, the Élysée Palace are moving fast to sell at least one Mistral-class helicopter carrier to Russia, possibly for deployment in the Black Sea. Such a

Gazprom, Gazpromneft, in Serbia’s Oil and Gas Sector

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s October 20 visit to Belgrade (EDM October 27) helped accelerate Serbia’s orientation toward Russia’s economic orbit. The Serbian government is handing additional energy assets over to

U.S. Delegation Returns Empty Handed From Moscow

The Kremlin blindsided U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with unexpected challenges during her October 13-14 Moscow visit, her first to Russia in that official capacity. The Russian side distorted

Putin and Gazprom Target Croatia

With Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s direct backing, Gazprom and other Russian energy companies have embarked upon an effort to co-opt Croatia into their projects, including a fanciful South Stream gas

Gazprom Takes its South Stream Bluff to Bucharest

This week in Bucharest, high-level representatives of the Russian energy business and their Italian allies are making their strongest pitch yet for Romania to join their South Stream gas transport

Putin’s Yamal Offer: a Preliminary Assessment

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's call for Western-assisted development of Yamal gas reserves for export as liquefied natural gas (LNG) (EDM, September 25) holds potential global ramifications. Top managers of

Time to De-Mothball the Budapest Memorandum for Ukraine

A representative group of Ukraine's cultural elite has alerted Western governments and public opinion to Russia's mounting threats against Ukrainian independence. Alarmed by Moscow's latest moves, the signatories of the

Maritime Security Weaknesses in the Black Sea

Russian naval operations in August 2008 highlighted the security deficit in the Black Sea. As a littoral country, Russia misused the territory of another littoral country, Ukraine, as a staging

Putin Takes Opel’s Wheel

On September 10 General Motors, partly owned by the U.S. government, changed its position and allowed its ailing German subsidiary, Opel, to be "rescued" by a Kremlin-controlled consortium. The German

U.S. Defers Decisions on Re-Arming Georgia

U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden made clear during his Georgia visit (July 22-23) that the United States would not supply Georgia with defensive weapons. Georgia has no anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems

U.S. Foreign Policy Tested over Georgia

Following U.S. President Barack Obama's reaffirmation of political support for Georgia at the Moscow summit (EDM, July 14), and anticipating U.S. Vice-President Joseph Biden's visit to Tbilisi, Russian President Dmitry

US Policy Toward Georgia at a Crossroads

U.S. President Barack Obama's firm stand on Georgia during the July 6-7 Moscow summit, to be followed by Vice-President Joseph Biden's visit to Georgia on July 22, marks a crossroads

OSCE RIP in Georgia

On June 30 the OSCE officially terminated its Mission in Georgia, which had for 17 years monitored the situation in and around South Ossetia. Russia forced the OSCE to close

UNOMIG, RIP: the Curtain Finally Falls on a Side-Show

On June 16 U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon saw himself compelled to order the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) to cease operations immediately, after 16 years of existence (Secretary-General's

Uzbekistan Quietly Stalling on CSTO Collective forces

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev clarified that Armenia signed without conditions, but it was Uzbekistan that registered multiple objections and reservations at the Collective Security Treaty Organization's (CSTO) summit in Moscow

Surgut Neftegaz Tries Crashing MOL’S Doors

*Note to readers: the M:Communications company advises that Mr. Gennady Timchenko owned less than 0.1 percent of Surgut shares as of June 11 The Kremlin-connected oil company Surgut Neftegaz has

Gazprom and Western Companies Compete in Iran

On May 24 in Tehran, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his counterpart in Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari signed an intergovernmental framework declaration on gas pipeline construction and gas deliveries from

Azerbaijan Looking at Narrow Gas Export Options

At the oil and gas conference just held in Baku, Industry and Energy Minister Natig Aliyev, confirmed that Azerbaijan strives for access to European markets as the main export destination

Nabucco Project Faces Turkish Hurdles at Critical Turn

Capitalizing on the European Commission's November 2008 initiative to promote the Corridor and to create a Caspian Development Corporation, the Budapest meeting set the goal of signing the Intergovernmental Agreement

“Nashi” Foray into Georgia Stopped in Time

On April 16, Georgian authorities prevented the Kremlin-coordinated youth group, Nashi, from provoking incidents at the South Ossetia demarcation line and in Tbilisi. A convoy of five vehicles carrying 20

Chancellor Merkel Says Nein to Nabucco

Shifting gears from an ostensible equidistance between pipeline projects, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has come out against proposals to use European Union funds to kick-start the Nabucco pipeline project for

No Gas Sources Foreseen for Gazprom’s South Stream

Gazprom vice-president Aleksandr Medvedev's extensive briefing on the South Stream transport project for potential investors (see article above) left the matter of sourcing it with gas entirely obscure. This omission

Slovak Government Invites Gazprom into the Country

On January 23 in Bratislava, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and Gazprom Vice-President Aleksandr Medvedev announced the intention to create a Slovak-Gazprom joint enterprise. Fico stated specifically that he wanted

Russia Strengthening Its Monopoly on Uzbek Gas

On January 23 in Tashkent, Presidents Dmitry Medvedev of Russia and Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan firmed up bilateral agreements that strengthen Russia’s monopoly on Uzbek exports of natural gas. Their

Turkey Retracts Warning to Nabucco and the EU

On January 19 in Brussels, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to “reconsider” his country’s participation in the Nabucco gas transit pipeline project unless the European Union promptly opened

Recent Initiatives to Advance the Nabucco Project

While the Nabucco pipeline remains clearly the centerpiece of the Southern Corridor project, Nabucco alone—even in its second, full-capacity phase—would be far from sufficient to cover the rise in European