Interview with Mikhail Krutikhin
Russia Today: Russia is looking at these proposals very closely. Russia supplies about a quarter of the European Union's gas, so a vast interest is at stake here. What is Russia going to be thinking about these proposals as they are at the moment?
Mikhail Kroutikhin: Well, I do not think that Russia should think about the proposals unless you identify Russia and Gazprom. I think it is the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom that should have very serious thoughts about what is going to happen to its assets in Europe and to its plans in Europe – because Gazprom may lose some of its pipelines in Germany and even a great interconnector pipeline that goes from Belgium to the British Isles where Gazprom has 10%. So these new requirements and new regulations of the EU could endanger Gazprom’s position in Europe.
RT: When do you see these plans possibly becoming a reality?
M.K.: I think it is quite possible. It depends on the paperwork. They could become a reality in a year or maybe in 18 months.
RT: It appears, at least at this stage, that this commission wants each state to tell its own investment policy. Could that be a get-out for rich member states of not complying with these proposals if they do become rules?
M.K.: That could be a loophole for Gazprom. For example, its relations with France and Germany are excellent at this time and I do not think these countries might oppose Gazprom as a supplier of gas to their territories. As for Poland, for example, maybe there could be some problems.
RT: What do you think is behind this idea to bring in these changes? What is actually happening here?
M.K.: I have just returned from some negotiations with the delegation from the European Commission. The main idea of those people is that Gazprom is not exactly a business-driven company. It is politicised and its decisions are not motivated by economic considerations but mostly by politics. And this is very dangerous, as the European Commission believes, to have such a company as a monopoly supplier of gas that could impose its political will on the EU members.
RT: Is a part of this drive, do you think, to encourage dialogue between the EU states and Russia? Do you think this is just really to get talking, to try to look to the future?
M.K.: Yes, I think negotiation is always the best solution. One of the items for negotiations could be some modifications to the Gas Protocol that is attached to this European energy treaty. This is a real stumbling point for Russia.