Ukraine Crisis Updates: Quick Guide on Energy Wars
- Pro-Russia occupiers defy deadline
- The troop buildup along Ukraine’s eastern border could be a harbinger for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
- Pro-Russian provocateurs may symbolize the official commencement of the energy wars
- Scientific discoveries of new energy resources and replacing outdated systems is crucial
- The environmental impact of fracking is extremely harmful
Ruling elites desire national wealth, power, and prestige, which is obtained through the possession of energy assets. That’s basically all you’ll ever need to know about global affairs.
Look at the current South Sudanese conflict, for example; it’s driven by the desire to control the oil fields in South Sudan. The Iran-Iraq war is based on the deep-seated issue to control the world’s oil reserves and tame Iran’s nuclear program. Egypt cut off their energy flow to Israel in 2012, but Israel’s current plan to build a natural gas reserve by 2015 is expected to restore their relations.
The current state of foreign affairs is nuanced by the depletion of natural resources, so the fate of each nation is thus at stake. Upcoming decades will be overflowing with competition of technologies, global energy sources, markets, and reserves. Having enough energy for a country to survive isn’t going to cut it though; it’s also a matter of national security.
THE EARLY STAGES OF PRO-RUSSIA INVASIONS
The troop buildup along Ukraine’s eastern border pushed interim President Oleksandr Turchynov to set a 9 A.M. deadline Monday morning in hopes of encouraging the pro-Russian separatists to disarm. The deadline came and went with no signs of Ukrainian military action.
Meanwhile pro-Russian agent provocateurs took over government buildings in Donetsk Oblast, including the Horlivka police station. Turchynov has called for deployment of United Nations peacekeepers to eastern Ukraine. It seems as if the Kremlin is strategically planting chaos and instability in eastern Ukraine, prepping the region for an invasion.
UKRAINE CRISIS LIVE ON USTREAM
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Russia nearly doubled the gas prices to Kiev on account of the outstanding debt owed by Naftogaz, the national oil and gas company in Ukraine, according to President Vladimir Putin. Putin illustrates the nature of the debt, totaling $2.2 billion, requests it to be paid promptly.
In Putin’s open letter to European leaders, he accuses them of exploiting Ukraine for economic and geopolitical power by offering Ukraine nothing but empty promises. Meanwhile, ever since Ukraine declared independence, Russia has been supporting them in every which way, according to Putin.
“Russia cannot and should not unilaterally bear the burden of supporting Ukraine’s economy by way of providing discounts and forgiving debts, and in fact, using these subsidies to cover Ukraine’s deficit in its trade with the EU member states.”
There’s no denying that the Ukraine and Russia have a long, intimate history, so I had a fleeting thought that Putin might be onto something, but then I remembered events like Holodomor, the long lost genocide where Joseph Stalin forced a man-made famine in 1932-1933. 7 million Ukrainians died. I’m still trying to hear him out at this point, so I thought maybe Putin was trying to focus on the positive, but then he went ahead and not only left out additional, crucial events, but he also manipulated them.
“In this manner, during the past four years Russia has been subsidizing Ukraine’s economy by offering slashed natural gas prices worth 35.4 billion US dollars.”
Russia slashed Ukraine’s gas prices by 30 percent, that part is true, but Putin had no other choice. His diction suggests he offered lower prices as a charitable gesture, as if he’s some sort of Mother Teresa figure. He completely forgot to mention how the United States’ soaring shale gas production increased market competition, and as a result, took business away from Russia and disparaged their prized energy market. It’s therefore a bit of a stretch to imply altruism when the adapting global market inevitably pushed Putin to lower their prices.
Although I’m not a fan of America’s use of shale gas, which I’ll get to later, I have to admit that it allayed economic stability. Russia, Iran, and, Venezuela dominated the energy market by a landslide and abused their power with cartels, unfair prices, and threats, and cut off energy supplies to make a point and get their way. Increased market competition eliminated a lot of their political corruption. Putin doesn’t view his actions as corrupt, and I can tell because in his letter he continues to take full credit for everything good that has ever happened to Ukraine.
“In addition, in December 2013, Russia granted Ukraine a loan of 3 billion US dollars. These very significant sums were directed towards maintaining the stability and creditability of the Ukrainian economy and preservation of jobs. No other country provided such support except Russia.”
The pipeline crises in 2006 and 2009, when Russia cut off its energy supply to Ukraine, are perfect examples of how the Moscow Kremlin did its fair share of engendering the country’s instability also. In addition, it highlights Russia’s exploitation of Europe’s dependence on their energy market. Russia’s underlying interests are also worthy of recognition when Putin mentions the Kharkov Agreement:
“However, the fact that after signing that contract, Russia granted Ukraine a whole string of unprecedented privileges and discounts on the price of natural gas is quite another matter. This applies to the discount stemming from the 2010 Kharkov Agreement, which was provided as advance payment for the future lease payments for the presence of the [Russian] Black Sea Fleet after 2017.”
After Syria’s civil war forced Russia out of its naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus last year, it became crucial for Russia to secure their warm water Black Sea ports in Sevastopol, Crimea. Russia is not the only country concerned with military and national security. The depletion of natural gas and energy is not only causing an unstable economy while destroying the environment, it’s also putting national security in danger. Technology and weapons are only a few examples of how national security is dependent upon energy.
The Shale Gas Revolution might have created healthy market competition, but it also created a trade deficit that has crippled the U.S. economy. That’s not why I disagree with the production of shale gas though; it’s because of hydraulic fracturing, or notoriously known as fracking.
Fracking is a process for extracting natural gas from shale layers thousands of feet below ground. Most of the gas is trapped, so drillers have to rip the layers of the earth open with highly pressurized water containing chemicals that reduce friction between water and rock. It has the potential to contaminate groundwater and risks to air quality. (I go into more detail regarding the Ukrainian crisis and fracking in a previous article here.) Whether or not you believe it to be immoral or inimical, the existing energy sources cannot satisfy the world’s future requirements anyway.
The exponential rate of climate change will continue to damage the environment. Erratic storms, diminishing shorelines, and rising sea levels, droughts, heat waves, and widespread wildfires will become more and more common. The bottom line is that the existing energy systems cannot satisfy the world’s future requirements. It needs to be replaced with a renewable alternative system sooner than later, or else an environmental disaster will beat us to it.
BACKGROUND & RESOURCES
Agent provocateur: A person who encourages others to do something illegal so that they can get caught.
Separatist: A member of a group of people who wants to form a new country.
The Kremlin: Literally means “fortress.” It’s a historic fortified complex in Moscow and residence of the President.
Cartel: An agreement between businesses to not compete with each other.
Trade Deficit: When there are more imports than there are exports, so most of the domestic currency’s outflow goes to foreign markets.