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: THIS WEEK, Russians commemorated the 10th anniversary of the fai

додано: 01-09-2001 // // URL: http://maidan.org.ua/static/mai/999350425.html
Версія до друку // Редагувати // Стерти

THIS WEEK, Russians commemorated the 10th anniversary of the failed 1991 coup that ultimately led to the collapse of the Soviet empire.

Ordinary people keep asking themselves the seminal question of worldwide politics: Are we better off today? The short answer: Many are, but most aren't.

A significant news item has gone almost unnoticed amid this week's hoopla: Russia and Ukraine have reunified their electric power grids.

As a result of this act, Russia has now recreated virtually the entire power grid that once served the Soviet Union. This enables it to use electric power as a bargaining chip in regional politics.

Ukraine is a case in point.

That country owes the Russian government-controlled utility millions of dollars in overdue electricity bills. Moscow, though, sees this as a positive factor: Unpaid debts will make independent Ukraine more likely to respect Moscow's wishes.

In the short-term, serving Ukraine's electricity needs is not Russia's top priority anyway. Instead, Moscow simply wants to secure transmission lines through Ukraine so that it can sell some of its excess capacity to Poland.

Now that the electricity agreement with Ukraine has been clinched after months of tortuous negotiations, Russia wants to conclude a similar pact on liquified gas pipelines.

Talks scheduled for next month will again be complicated by Ukraine's unpaid debts. But in this case, too, Russia wants transmission rights so that it can sell its gas to clients in Western Europe.

A decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia is showing more economic progress than most of the former republics. Despite its problems, Russia also is more politically stable. More and more, it is calling the shots.

Moscow used this reality to its advantage in the electricity grid talks.

Its skillful top negotiator, Viktor Chernomyrdin, who once was President Boris Yeltsin's prime minister, recognized that Ukraine's embattled President Leonid Kuchma needed some achievement to point to.

He was given publicity - while Moscow will grow its clout.

додано: 01-09-2001 // URL: http://maidan.org.ua/static/mai/999350425.html
Версія до друку // Редагувати // Стерти

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