Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 14.09.2018
Russia is at war with Ukraine. Natural gas is a weapon of Putin’s War – Gazprom wields that weapon. Nord Stream 2 is a political scheme of the Putin regime to deprive Ukraine of gas transit revenue and to wreck Europe’s energy security. Germany has already capitulated to Russian aggression through Gazprom but Ukraine has never stopped fighting back. In late February, Ukraine’s Naftogaz won a massive arbitration award against Gazprom. Ukraine then went on to win the gas war that Putin started against Europe. Ukraine is the heroic and steadfast energy partner that Europe desperately needs. By upholding the rules-based international energy order, Ukrainians may yet save Russia-appeasing western Europeans from their stupendous greed and stupidity.
The Svea Court of Appeal in Stockholm, Sweden has repealed the decision it made in June to stay enforcement of the arbitration award of $2.6 billion to Ukraine’s Naftogaz from Russia’s Gazprom. The Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce made initial award on February 28, finding that Gazprom had cheated Naftogaz out of gas transit revenue. Naftogaz started using legal channels to enforce the arbitration award in Ukraine, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. It was starting proceedings in Germany when Gazprom won the stay. With this obstacle to enforcement removed on September 13, Naftogaz will quickly proceed with its enforcement efforts in all relevant jurisdictions.
This decision of the Svea Court of Appeal cannot be appealed, according to the court’s ruling. Gazprom must pay. The Russian monopoly could pay Naftogaz voluntarily and end all the legal wrangling. But Gazprom has vowed never to pay voluntarily. It does not respect the decision of the Stockholm Arbitration Tribunal and it does not do legitimate business in the rules-based international energy market. That’s because Gazprom is not a normal business. It is rather a scheme of the Putin-Kremlin crime syndicate.
The immediate purpose of Gazprom is to finance Putin’s wars of aggression, particularly his invasion of Ukraine. The long term purpose of Gazprom is to destroy Europe’s energy security by eliminating diversity of sources.
The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is a project of the Putin regime to annihilate the Ukrainian nation and perpetuate the culture of dependence of German industry on Russia. It do this by cutting off Ukraine as a gas transit country. Nord Stream 2 serves no economic purpose.
Ukraine is a reliable energy partner for Europe. Putin launched a gas war against Ukraine and the European Union in early March, in a fit of hysterical rage after he lost the Stockholm arbitration. He cut gas pressure into Ukraine’s gas transit system, hoping that the Ukrainians would pass on the supply shortfall to European nations to the west. Instead, the Ukrainians fed their own domestic gas supply into the transit pipelines, and cut their home consumption dramatically. Ukraine kept its promise to the EU, even though Russia wasn’t. Ukrainians were freezing in their homes and offices in early March so that Europeans further west didn’t have to. Through heroic sacrifice, Ukraine proved it is steadfast ally and a reliable partner for its neighbours in Europe.
Russia is a bad faith actor. Russia is the worst energy partner for Europe imaginable. Gazprom is fully weaponized for Putin’s War – it is not a normal business that anyone can make deals with. Russia will always threaten to cut off the gas supply for political reasons and it will frequently carry out these threats.
The only purpose of Nord Stream 2 is to allow Putin to cut off gas transit through Ukraine. The reason he wants to do that is to damage the Ukrainian economy by depriving the state of gas transit revenue. Nord Stream 2 will remove the last financial stake Russia has in Ukraine, and take away the last impediment Putin has to a full-scale military offensive, where he will attempt the conquest of all of Ukraine.
There is a chance that Europe can be saved from the predations of Gazprom and from the Nord Stream 2 assault. Naftogaz will now collect the $2.6 billion Stockholm Arbitration Tribunal award aggressively throughout Europe – Gazprom assets will be seized in every relevant jurisdiction. Sanctions may yet be imposed by the United States on Gazprom for the Nord Stream 2 project. Logically, punitive sanctions should extend to Uniper, Wintershall, OMV, Engie, and Shell – these are the western European collaborators in the Nord Stream 2 attack on Ukraine and Europe’s energy security.
Russia’s weaponized Gazprom owes Ukraine’s energy company Naftogaz $2.6 billion. Pay up, Moscow!