World press review on Russian gas and Ukraine (February 25, 2015)
An article headlined "Ukraine is today’s West Berlin" was published today by U.S. newspaper the Washington Post. The article was written by the former president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, currently the chairman of the International Advisory Council on Reforms for the President of Ukraine. According to Saakashvili, the conflict in Ukraine is about "whether the post-Soviet space will be allowed to free itself from a vicious cycle of inefficiency, corruption, violence and failed governments to build instead modern, open, democratic societies." He believes that reforming Ukraine will not be easy, partly due to Ukrainian oligarchs with close ties to the Russian government. But drastic reforms to liberate the country from oligarchs and kleptocrats are needed in Ukraine, he writes. According to Saakashvili, Ukraine has to become a model of democracy and a successful economy, just as West Berlin was for East Berlin and other European countries of the Soviet bloc. "A successful Ukraine will help change Russia for the better by providing the Russian people with a relevant alternative model," he writes. In his article, Saakashvili offers to introduce further economic sanctions against Russia and supply defensive weapons to Ukraine. "Both Ukraine and Russia need some tough love from the West. Ukrainian leaders must continue to tackle tough reforms and deliver to their people, and further Western aid packages should be conditioned on these real, deep reforms. But so, too, must Russia pay a price for failing to halt its aggression," the article reads. "The West must also accept that Ukraine is today’s West Berlin: the frontline in the defense of Western values against Russian revanchism," he concludes.
"Russia warns Ukraine over natural gas supply," the New York Times reports. The dispute is based on the gas supplied by Russia to the eastern regions of Ukraine during the armed conflict, which Russia counts as part of the gas deal signed with the government of Ukraine in October. The gas issue highlights that Russia is ready to assure its political and military control of the region, but not its economic well-being. In recent months, Ukraine and Slovakia have reached a deal on reverse piping of gas already purchased in Europe and another deal on gas purchases from Norway to reduce Ukraine's dependence on Russian gas, the article reads.
Plans to establish a single European energy market will be announced on Wednesday, the Britain's Guardian newspaper reports. "The 19-page draft blueprint, obtained by the Guardian, demands that Europe speak with a single voice on energy policy, a role that would devolve to the commission and a proposal that is already running into fierce resistance among some national governments," the article reads. Among the plans for the new energy project is the construction of the southern gas corridor, which will diminish Europe's dependence on Russia's gas. Some European officials expect the project will be commissioned already in 2019. Some European leaders have already opposed the idea to delegate national energy powers to a single European body, including the prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban. Some other European energy players are also expected to resist the new proposal.