Putin has provoked US to take steps that threaten Gazprom, his own ‘purse,’ Portnikov says

Image: REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Image: REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin 

2016/09/03 • Analysis & Opinion

Vitaly Portnikov, Ukrainian political analyst and writer

Vitaly Portnikov, Ukrainian political analyst and writer

In advance of the G-20 summit in China, both Moscow and Washington have sent powerful signals of their intentions. In hopes of forcing the West to put pressure on Kyiv and to cut back or lift sanctions on Russia, the Kremlin increased its military presence not only near the Ukrainian border but in Syria, Vitaly Portnikov says.

But those aggressive moves instead of intimidating the West have had exactly the opposite effect, the Ukrainian analyst says.

Instead of backing down in the face of Russian pressure, the United States has signaled that it is now prepared to take an even harder line than it has in the past and even to threaten Putin’s “purse” – the gas giant Gazprom.

Russian paratroopers (Image: stat.mil.ru)

Russian paratroopers (Image: stat.mil.ru)

In a comment to Ukraine’s Gordon News Agency, Portnikov says explicitly that “the US has sent a signal that in principle Putin can lose control of his purse, Gazprom,” because the new sanctions the US is planning to counter Russian aggression will “seriously hurt this company and all its projects including those in Europe.”

That possibility, now very real thanks to the expansion of the sanctions regime announced by the US this week is something both Putin and those who want a more conciliatory policy toward Moscow “must take into consideration.”

All the sanctions that the “civilized world” has imposed on Russia “are having a cumulative effect,” Portnikov argues, because they are weakening the Russian economy and hence the Russian regime which depends on the Russian economy for the money it needs to carry out all of its projects.

Especially in their new format, when they will hit Russian firms as well as imports, “will inevitably achieve their goal” of forcing the regime to change course or to collapse. “After the destruction of the regime in Russia,” Portnikov continues, “Ukraine can play a significant role in the development of civil society in its neighbor.”


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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Robert

    I hope this will work to clip vlady’s purse strings. Selective SWIFT sanctions against putin, his Mafioso cronies and carefully targeted enterprises and industries will surely have a more immediately productive effect. Let all money out of Russia and SWIFT-ly cut off all transactions of inbound funds to the overly aggressive country. Hit him where it hurts the most: his wallet. Bring him to his knees and soon. There’s no need to target the general Russian population. There’s absolutely no need whatsoever for innocent Ukrainians to keep dying and getting maimed. If vlady and his evil KGB regime are gonna survive on Planet Earth, they need to learn to play by the rules of Civilized Society.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      On the contrary, given their huge support for the dwarf’s policies the population of Dwarfstan SHOULD be targeted!

  • Hurd Harley

    Portnikov going too far. I don’t think Ukrainians want to “play a significant role in the development of civil society in its neighbor.”
    Let Russians take care of Russia. Ukrainians will take care of Ukraine.

    • Oknemfrod

      Agreed! Before reading your response, I had singled out exactly the same assertion for being rather far drawn.

      In addition to your unquestionably valid point, there’s another angle to it – to wit, whether there’s enough foundational material in the Russian psyche for “the development of civil society” in the first place, with external influence or without. For in order for the latter to emerge, certain basic prerequisites must be met, and I’m neither sure at all that they are there nor whether they can even be planted into the soil as bastardized as Russian mentality.

      Fundamentally, the Russians as a whole must rid themselves of their delusions of grandeur and be truly willing to become a “normal” country, as opposed to the deeply seeded (seemingly, at the genetic level) belief that they’re anointed to be an empire. If, by some miracle (and it’s a very big IF), they managed to stray away from the mental disorder making them fancy that having a “sphere of influence”, meddling in other countries’ affairs, and building military at the expense of everything else and instead directed their talents and efforts toward seemingly mundane things like internal plumbing, paved roads, digestible food, etc., – then they might have a chance.

      Looking at the current political scene in Russia, I’m not holding my breath, though. Even the sanest representatives of the liberal (in the classical, not “left vs right” sense) “opposition”, while talking normally otherwise, lose their sanity the very moment they’re confronted with the need to extricate the sense of the imperialist grandeur entitlement and mythical Russian superiority from their heads – and nowhere it is more obvious than when it comes to any issue related to Ukraine and Ukrainians. And if those people – many highly intelligent – are incapable of this kind of mental rehab, what to say about their compatriots whose heads have been replaced with TV boxes?

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        I’d say that arrogant colonial attitude exists to ALL FSU countries- the Baltics, Belarus, etc, not just the Ukraine. Georgia is just as much under threat. So is Belarus if Lukashenko continues to maintain a semi-independent attitude. And if the dwarf thinks he can get away with it he will send his tanks into the Baltics, just as his Great Hero and Shining Example Stalin did. I’m not sure Finland is safe either.

        • Oknemfrod

          But of course … at the state level – absolutely. However, at the individual level, there’re marked distinctions. I’d venture to say that the Russians’ personal attitude towards the Ukrainians as an ethnicity is quite a bit different than that towards those from the Caucasus, the Baltic states, and even (perhaps to a significantly lesser degree), Belarus. To me, nowhere it was more palpable than in the melting pot of the Soviet Army, where all different ethnicities were forced to mesh together. Though the Russians deemed all of the above Untermenschen, the Ukrainians occupied a specific cell in their psyche. Obviously, neither the Caucasians nor the Balts were perceived by them as “the same people”, while the Ukrainians were seen as stray relatives who had had no right to get estranged on the basis of certain particular ethnic distinctions, including, but not limited to, the language.

        • Alex George

          True.

          One of the Kremlin’s problems is that it is not just individual leaders like Lukashenko or Nazarbayev getting individualistic ideas and dealing with the EU or China or Ukrainek without Moscow’s permission

          Rather, behind these leaders are the new elites of society, and they are a younger generation who feel no particular affinity for the soviet union or russia. They mostly aren’t liberal or western-oriented, but they take everything on its own merits and will just as wlllingly deal with the EU or Iran, as with Russia.

        • Quartermaster

          Were I Georgian, I would be very nervous. Putin actually has far more motivation to invade and subjugate Georgia than he does Ukraine.

    • zorbatheturk

      Tend to agree. Ukraine has nothing to learn from RuSSia.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      Best thing to do is create a new “Berlin Wall” on the Ukrainian-Dwarfstanian border and ignore Dwarfstan completely, let the country rot. Dwarfstanians clearly don’t WANT a civil society so don’t waste any energy in trying to help them develop one.

  • zorbatheturk

    EU tariff on Russian gas to bring it to the level of LNG landed from Qatar.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      A better solution is that of Poland and Lithuania: switch to a more reliable supplier. Lithuania has an LNG terminal in service at Klaipeda since December 2014, which handles Norwegian gas. And Poland now has a terminal in operation near Stettin which can handle 5 billion cubic metres per annum- this gas comes from Qatar. Furthermore this terminal’s capacity will be expanded to 7.5 billion cubic metres.
      End result: the dwarf sells less gas and gets fewer $$$ for his offshore bank accounts and his war chest.

  • Dirk Smith

    I like the US plan of targeting the Kerch bridge cronies as well.