An ogre of a giant looms to the east of Europe, occasionally in the shape of a country, other times in the shape of a company, the two often indistinguishable. Russia and Gazprom are poised to devour the whole of Europe and its Asian neighbors. OAO Gazprom’s influence has been underestimated and, astonishingly, often ignored. By far the largest owner of natural gas reserves and the largest supplier of gas in the world, six times as big as No. 2, Royal Dutch/Shell, the company currently provides over a quarter of Europe’s natural gas, and is aggressively looking to greatly increase […]

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE . . . — That four-page biography of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi distributed to reporters traveling with President Bush to the G-8 summit in Japan earlier this month apparently wasn’t the only White House snafu in the background material compiled for the trip. As was reported, the specially prepared press kit described Italy as “a country known for governmental corruption and vice,” and called Berlusconi an opportunist who bought his way to political power. An Italian correspondent covering the summit read it and immediately telephoned an Italian official who, in turn, took it up with […]

On Friday, July 11, senior British and American leaders denounced China and Russia for vetoing a U.N. Security Council (UNSC) resolution that would have imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and his closest supporters for using violence and other manipulations during last month’s presidential elections. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, criticized Moscow and Beijing for having sided “with Mugabe against the people of Zimbabwe.” In his remarks to the council after the vote, Khalilzad observed that, “The u-turn in the Russian position is particularly surprising and disturbing.” Khalilzad then made the stinging comment that, “The […]

Energy differences between Russia and European countries have created an opportunity for the GUAM states — Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova — to assume a more prominent role in Europe’s institutional architecture. Until now, the GUAM has been overshadowed by more prominent institutions such as NATO, the European Union, and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Most recent attention has focused on how GUAM might help EU members pursue their energy diversification strategy. GUAM includes both energy-producing (Azerbaijan) and energy-transit (Azerbaijan again but also Georgia and potentially Ukraine) countries. The pivotal geographic location of GUAM members — which have direct access […]

The annual summit of world leaders is the focal point of G-8-related activity. The sessions offer national leaders an opportunity to meet with their foreign counterparts and, due to now standard practices of limiting attendance and holding the summits outside national capitals, engage in direct multilateral and bilateral discussions with limited interruptions. Russian President Boris Yeltsin began attending the G-8 summits in 1994, but he was only allowed to attend the special sessions devoted to political affairs. He remained excluded from the main talks devoted to economic questions, where Moscow’s global influence was much weaker. At the Denver summit of […]

At their June 26-27 summit in the Siberian town of Khanty-Mansiisk, located in the heart of Russia’s energy industry, EU and Russia officially launched negotiations on a new EU-Russia Agreement. Although the formal agenda consisted mostly of economic and energy issues, the participants devoted considerable time to security questions as well as assessing how the presence of Russia’s new president, Dmitry Medvedev, might affect the negotiations. For the past few years, Russian-EU relations have been addressed within the framework of four “common spaces” — the Common Economic Space (covering economic issues and the environment); the Common Space of Freedom, Security […]