Lieutenant General Reshetnikov of the Russian Institute of Strategic Research gives a wide-ranging interview on threats Russia faces from the West, to militant Islamic groups, to the conflict in Ukraine
The last year has been the year when Russia’s spy chiefs came out of the shadows.
A few weeks ago Colonel General Igor Sergun, the Head of the Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, gave a brief interview in which he publicly linked the U.S. to jihadi terrorism.
Now it is the turn of Lieutenant General Leonid Reshetnikov, Director of the Russian Institute of Strategic Research (RISR), the Russian government’s chief centre for foreign policy analysis.
That Russia possesses a centre that undertakes foreign policy analysis for the Russian government and that this is connected to the country’s chief foreign intelligence agency, the SVR, will come as a surprise to no one.
Both the U.S. and Britain have such centres. In the U.S. it is the RAND Corporation. In Britain it is the Royal Institute of International Affairs (“Chatham House”).
With 1 hand EU asks Russia for financial help, with other it bombs ethnic Russians in East Ukraine, sanctions Russian economy…
Black hole of Ukraine finances becoming a political liability for EU leaders
EU demanding austerity from Ukraine while population struggles with grinding poverty, economic collapse
EU policy towards Russia/Ukraine poorly conceived, in danger of collapsing due to contradictions
As this article in the Financial Times shows, the wheels are coming off Ukraine’s economy, with the IMF now admitting it needs a further $15 billion on top of the money already given within weeks to avoid total collapse.
This has come after news the Ukrainian Central Bank’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen below $10 billion.
Ukraine must pay a further $1.6 billion from these reserves before year end to fulfil its part of the gas deal the EU brokered between Ukraine and Russia on 30th October 2014.
This will push the Central Bank’s foreign exchange reserves down to even more critical levels.
Meanwhile Gazprom has said that despite Ukraine’s recent purchase of 1 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia, Ukraine’s total gas reserves are close to critical levels, endangering transit of Russian gas to Europe.
The article however exposes something else, which is perhaps even more important.
The reaction to the cancellation of the Sound Stream project has been a wonder to behold and needs to be explained very carefully.
In order to understand what has happened it is first necessary to go back to the way Russian-European relations were developing in the 1990s.
Briefly, at that period, the assumption was that Russia would become the great supplier of energy and raw materials to Europe. This was the period of Europe’s great “rush for gas” as the Europeans looked forward to unlimited and unending Russian supplies. It was the increase in the role of Russian gas in the European energy mix which made it possible for Europe to run down its coal industry and cut its carbon emissions and bully and lecture everyone else to do the same.
However the Europeans did not envisage that Russia would just supply them with energy. Rather they always supposed this energy would be extracted for them in Russia by Western energy companies. This after all is the pattern in most of the developing world. The EU calls this “energy security” – a euphemism for the extraction of energy in other countries by its own companies under its own control.
It never happened that way. Though the Russian oil industry was privatised it mostly remained in Russian hands. After Putin came to power in 2000 the trend towards privatisation in the oil industry was reversed. One of the major reasons for western anger at the arrest of Khodorkovsky and the closure of Yukos and the transfer of its assets to the state oil company Rosneft was precisely because is reversed this trend of privatisation in the oil industry.