Friday, December 30, 2005

Gas War: The Question

On Sunday, Russia assumes leadership of the G-8 group of industrialized nations. On the same day, it has threatened to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine if it doesn't accept a four-fold price increase. At RFE/RL, Claire Bigg considers the question: Does the Ukraine 'Gas War' cast a shadow over Moscow's G-8 chairmanship?
Russia will spend the year of 2006 at the helm of one of the world's most powerful global alliances. It is a rare opportunity for President Vladimir Putin to boost his country's international standing. As the chair, Russia will host a number of ministerial-level meetings to discuss issues of global concern.

Russia is not a formal member of the G-7 grouping of Japan, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, and the United States, as it is not among the world's leading economies.

But Moscow has enjoyed steady economic growth and a rising profile as a major oil-and gas-producing power. Energy policy will be high on the agenda of Russia's G-8 chairmanship.

Moscow's ongoing dispute with Kyiv over the price of Russia's natural gas, therefore, presents a potential problem.

Can Russia present itself as a stable energy provider to Western markets as it engages in an ugly showdown with a former Soviet neighbor?
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