One look at the natural gas power grid, and it’s easy to understand why Vladimir Putin has a power problem on his hands, one that even the Obama Administration could find easy to understand. Ukraine has long been under the thumb of “mother Russia” politically. Among other reasons, over 30% of western Europe’s demand for natural gas flows from Russia through Ukraine.
That pesky geographic fact presents a rather strong leverage point for Ukrainians to play, should they ever want to push back on Putin’s demands. Low and behold, in January, 2014, that push-back ensued, with riots taking on police in Ukraine’s Hrushevskoho Street Riots, in Kiev.
Eastern Europe continues to be in flux, as Putin seeks to not only forcefully restore order to what some once termed a “puppet government” in Ukraine, but along with it, secure those pipelines, to keep gas flowing to the west and funds flowing east.
The question now is, will the west actually do anything to stop Putin? And equally important, if Russia’s threat to the Ukraine plays out, will Putin stop if and when he “re-stabilizes” Russia’s direct control of Ukriane and its prescious pipeline link to the west?
Photo Credit: Time Magazine | Illustration Credit: Petroleum Economist