Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, energy has been at the forefront of relations between Russia and Ukraine. What is often known as “Russian” gas sold to customers in Europe has actually been gas from Central Asia, mainly Turkmenistan, that is transited via Russia and Ukraine. This transit trade has been fraught with massive corruption that arguably has impacted very negatively on Ukrainian state building. Conflicts between Moscow and Kiev over pricing of gas delivered to Ukraine has led to repeated supply disruptions. Twice – in 2006 and 2009 – these conflicts have also spilled over into supply disruptions for customers within the EU. As the current crisis in Ukraine escalates, the threat of a renewed “gas war” looms large. Kiev has a massive debt to Russian gas giant Gazprom, which it is not able to pay. If Gazprom shuts down the gas flow to Ukraine, it will have repercussions also for several EU member states.
In Putin’s Energy Agenda, I explore both the background of energy relations between Russia and Ukraine, and the role that the massive energy windfall has played in building a prosperous and increasingly militarized Russia.