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Russia prepares aggression against Ukraine?

For years, Russia and Ukraine had an understanding: Ukraine offered transit of Russian gas to Europe at nominal cost while Russia supplied gas at a reduced price. Using the habitual Ukrainian practice of stealing gas as a cause, Putin doubled gas prices for Ukraine in November, and in early January increased it again from $250 to $418 to $450. After Ukraine protested the punitive tariff, Russians cut the gas supply, and Ukraine predictably began massive theft of the gas in transit to Europe.

The Russian government works to create anti-Ukrainian sentiment in Europe by blaming the low supply of gas to Europe on Ukrainian theft. That explanation doesn’t hold water: Russia delivered about 300 cub.m. of gas to Europe through Ukraine daily. Ukraine steals 15-20 mil cub.m., that is, 5-6% of the total. Rather, Russia deliberately reduced the gas supply to Europe by two thirds in order to create ill-will against Ukraine.

The Putin-Medvedev government launched a media campaign against Ukraine that rivaled the worst Soviet propaganda. Now, that’s odd. Russians are generally well disposed toward the ethnically similar Ukrainians. The Russian government has no reason to rally its population against Ukraine over a commercial issue. Putin cut the gas supply to Ukraine…okay, that’s it, why incite common Russians?

The answer may lie in Putin’s speech a few days ago. On New Year eve, Putin spoke of a brotherly Ukrainian nation led by dumb-heads. This parallels his rhetoric regarding Georgia. An all-out war with Ukraine is unlikely, especially after the Russians just lost a bid to occupy Georgia. Russia acts according to the textbook KGB approach of destabilizing an unfriendly regime and looking for an opportunity to replace it with puppet government.

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