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Brussels Calls For New Energy Partnership With Moscow

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso (left) with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2005 (AFP) March 8, 2006 -- European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called on March 8 for a new energy partnership between Russia and the European Union.

Barroso said he will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin later this month to discuss ways of stepping up the EU-Russia energy partnership.

Barroso was presenting the Commission's outline of a new common EU energy policy. His comments came two months after Russia's row with Ukraine over gas prices temporarily disrupted supplies to Europe.

Barroso also said the EU must diversify its energy supplies and consider stocking more oil and gas for times of crisis. He said no energy options -- including nuclear -- should be ruled out.

The Commission said roughly 1 trillion euros ($1.2 trillion) must be invested in Europe over the next 20 years to meet energy demand and modernize infrastructure.

EU leaders will discuss the proposals at a summit on March 23-24.

(AP, Reuters)

Russia's Gas Strategy

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.


Listen to the complete panel discussion (about 90 minutes):
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