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#12 - JRL 2007-14 - JRL Home
From: Ira Straus (IRASTRAUS@aol.com)
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2007
Subject: Re JRL 12 Ivanenko [Energy, NATO, Lugar, EU]

A strange assertion appears from Vlad Ivanenko in JRL 2007-#12, item #19 (" Can Good Trade Policy Make Good Neighbors? EU-Russian Relations Should Focus on Mutual Goals Rather Than Mutual Distrust", Russia Profile January 17, 2007):

"last Novembers NATO summit in Riga, during which U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana) proposed ... to prevent a Russian energy strike by means of military response..."

Now, I remember Lugar's speech and did not notice any appeal for a military response in it. Nor would I expect such of Lugar. He is often wise, sometimes not, but he is never reckless. The meaning of his comment, presumably, was that the West should respond collectively and support the energy needs of a country cut off by Russia. This is similar to the IEA commitments since the mid-1970s for mutual preparation and support in case of another oil embargo by OPEC. It is also similar to appeals from some European leaders for a common EU energy security policy.

Vlad may not like the fact that the West is beginning to reckon with Russia as a country that might use energy as a hostile weapon, like OPEC, and to consider preparatory steps for reducing the impact. But it is a fact, and one that has been induced by Kremlin policies and by fair consideration of their potential implications, not by anti-Russian prejudices as the Kremlin tries to convince itself with its endless argumentation on the subject. For too many Russians, media criticism (criticism of Western media for prejudices) has become a substitute for dealing with the realities that Westerners, media or not, are consideration.

Presumably someone who is arguing for cooperation with the West should not be going around spreading phobias about Western institutions like NATO, or unfounded suspicions that they are planning a military attack on Russia.

Another strained assertion: "It has been known for years that the EU demands effective Russian acquiescence to its internal norms and regulations, called acquis communautaire, without offering anything of value in exchange."

It is prospective members that have to adopt EU norms and regulations. This is not unreasonable; the exchange is for membership. Putin said early in his rule that he intended for Russia to adopt all these norms and rules, even without membership, although with a hope of membership. It was an unwise idea; Russia is too big to join the EU in any meaningful prospective future, and without membership, the bargain is a poor one. Russia's better prospects are in NATO, OECD, and WTO. With the EU it can get only a special status "neighborhood" "common space" bargain short of membership, but this always risks being a poor bargain, since the EU will always encourage as much EU norm satisfaction as possible in such agreements. But to say the EU "demands" this is a distortion; it is Russia that seeks the status, not always even out of cooperative motives. It is presumably at Putin's door, more than the EU's, that any criticism of this should be laid. Again, I'd think that someone who is aiming to promote cooperation would not actually be promoting exaggerated and misdirected accusations at the very venues of cooperation.