Russia Wants to Be Your Energy Supplier
All efforts by the Kremlin to gain controlling stakes in energy companies, sign more contracts and increase the capitalization of Russia's energy giants, such as Gazprom and Rosneft, have taken place with larger strategic objectives in mind. For example, Gazprom's market capitalization was expected to reach US$1 trillion by 2014, turning it into the world's largest company based on market value , surpassing ExxonMobil. Russia also has coordinated its policies with those of other energy producers in the Middle East and Northern Africa and signed multiple contracts for developing energy capabilities in Latin America ._RussiaBlogRussia wants to be able to dictate energy policy for the entire world, in the same way it dictates to Europe. The ability to control the world's energy markets and to decide who gets energy at what price, is something that Putin has wanted for Russia since 1997 when he wrote his doctoral thesis, while still governor of St. Petersburg.
Nobody really knows how deep the world economic crisis will be, how seriously it may still hurt Russia and how much time it will take Russia to get back on its feet. But one thing seems certain: its leadership has no other strategy [ed: than oil and gas] to help it recover its great power status and capabilities. The Kremlin has few other options than to preserve its model's principal petro-components, modify them by learning lessons from the crisis and hope for another opportunity to apply the model within the next five years or so. RussiaBlogWithout the help of western leaders, including Obama, Putin will never be able to wield that power of life and death over the nations of the western world -- including the US. If wise leaders in the west develop their own energy resources, Putin will never be able to use energy blackmail over them again. Unfortunately, Obama is already taking steps to reverse the pro-energy stance of the Bush administration, and threatens to put the US in a very vulnerable position vis a vis Russia and the Persian Gulf oil dictatorships.
A graph of Russia's population suggests a very interesting subtext underlying Putin's Machiavellian machinations. Russia is losing people, quickly. Most Russian women do not want to bring new life into an oppressive mafiacracy such as Putin oversees. Most Russian men are drunk and dying before they see 60. HIV and Tuberculosis are out of control. Most wealth and power are horded at the top levels of government while the majority suffer the waves of financial instability, crime, disease, and drug / alcohol use. No wonder the population shrinks.
Long-term, this presents Russia with a huge problem: How does it hold onto its vast land mass -- full of mineral wealth -- in the face of underpopulation within Russia and a vast and growing overpopulation in neighboring states? It is not a problem this year or next. But it will be a huge problem after 2030, if not before.