Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Another return

Some readers may have noticed that I have been blogging lightly recently. The reason was preoccupation with other work. That is now finished and I can return to duties though the boss, as ever, managed to fill those gaps.

I shall not write about Obama's trip to Europe as I think I should follow neo-neocon's example and start weaning myself off the subject. Instead, here is one of my favourite subjects, the behaviour of that defender of the nation state, Russia, under its new President, who just happens to say exactly what the old President, now Prime Minister, said.

After the Czech Government signed an agreement on the placing of a radar tracking system in the country Russia voiced her displeasure (one wonders if it is fear of that displeasure that is making the Poles so hesitant - an interesting historic reversal, if true) by cutting down the amount of oil, agreed and contracted for, that would be allowed to flow.

Oil supplies dropped about 40 percent on July 9, the day after the Czech government signed the antimissile deal with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Prague, and have remained at that level since.
Never mind. Putin has stormed to the Czechs' rescue. Well, sort of. According to the article he has instructed Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who is in charge of energy policy, to make sure that all partners remain satisfied.

Apparently, there was a certain amount of discussion between the two as to why this rather regrettable situation might have arisen. Nothing to do with the anti-missile deal, which was not even mentioned.

The Czechs appear to have crossed their neighbour in another way as well:

The two then ruminated on the possible causes for the shortfall, according to the report. Putin said he agreed with Sechin's conclusion that "the immediate blame is not on Russian oil suppliers" but rather on unspecified offshore oil trading companies that deal in Russian oil.

Sechin noted that the Czech Republic had declined to sign a energy agreement proposed by the Russians last year.

Putin added that, as a result, the Czechs were purchasing oil "not directly from Russian producers, but through offshore companies."
Russian oil supplies should be back to the agreed levels by August but, it seems, that unlike Germany, the Czech Republic is looking round for alternative suppliers.

Incidentally, as far as I understand it, the much-heralded and much-trumpeted Obama visit will not take in any East European capital. I wonder why that is. Have his 300 foreign policy advisers not managed to tell him that Berlin is no longer the frontline? Ooops, I have failed at the first hurdle.