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Tbilisi residents line up for gas on 26 January (epa) 29 January 2006 -- Russian officials say Russia today is resuming gas supplies to Georgia and Armenia. Supplies were cut off last following two explosions on the pipeline.


Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman Vladimir Ivanov told journalists in North Ossetia that gas deliveries were resumed this morning.


Viktor Krainov, an official for the regional gas utility, Kavkaztransgaz, was also quoted as saying that "the tap has been turned on."


It is not clear when the gas will actually reach Georgia.


Georgia is in the midst of an energy crisis since twin blasts in North Ossetia damaged a key pipeline on 22 January, cutting off supplies of gas.


Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has accused Moscow of deliberately cutting off gas supplies, and then dragging its feet over repairs to put pressure on Georgia amid an unusually harsh winter.


Russia categorically denied the allegations.


(Reuters, AFP, ITAR-TASS)

Russia's Gas Strategy



RUNNING HOT AND COLD The crisis over Russian supplies of natural gas to Ukraine that erupted on New Year's Day has implications that spread well beyond these two countries and will impact both economic and political policymaking throughout Europe. On January 19, RFE/RL's Washington, D.C., office hosted a briefing the examined the ramifications of the natural-gas conflict.

CLIFFORD GADDY, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, outlined Russia's "grand energy strategy," in which Ukraine is perceived as merely an obstacle frustrating Russia's energy ambitions in Western Europe and therefore a nonentity in Russia's broader strategic planning. According to Gaddy, Russia's strategic goal regarding energy is to maximize the role of its own energy resources in the world energy markets, so as to increase its geopolitical influence. To do this, it must reduce competition and maximize dependency on its own energy resources, as well as ensure a stable supply.

TARAS KUZIO, a visiting assistant professor at George Washington University, rebutted Gaddy's argument, claiming that Russia's actions evidenced a complete lack of geopolitical strategy and resulted in strong denunciations by Western countries and a loss of political allies in Ukraine. According to Kuzio, Russian President Vladimir Putin's desire to have a deal signed by the January 4 European Union energy summit outweighed his hope of reinforcing opposition to Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko during the run-up to Ukraine's March 26 parliamentary elections.

RFE/RL Coordinator of Corruption Studies ROMAN KUPCHINSKY did not fully agree with Kuzio's assessments of Yushchenko or Ukraine. He outlined three major problems that are feeding the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The biggest, he argues, is that the state-controlled Russian gas giant Gazprom holds a monopoly on natural-gas sales outside the CIS. Kupchinsky also decried Ukraine's consumption of natural gas, terming it "out of control." Corruption is also a major factor in the conflict, Kupchinsky said, although the extent to which it taints the deal struck between Russia and Ukraine remains unknown.


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