Shale gas and politics: Are Western energy giants’ interests behind Ukraine violence?
The eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions cut ties with Kiev and declared independence from Kiev after a popular vote last Sunday. Yet federalist activists have no doubt that a new wave of government crackdown is on its way.
And they do have every reason to think so, because, as RT’s Gayane Chichakyan reports, reinstating control over the restive regions isn't the only agenda driving Kiev's ongoing offensive, as the core of the conflict is probably only business as usual.
Eastern Ukraine is not only of people who don’t want to be under the Kiev coup-installed government’s control, but there are also natural energy resources in the region, such as coal and more specifically, shale natural gas, untapped deposits of which lie underground in the Dnieper-Donets basin.
The cities Kiev is now striving to force into submission by making them war zones are situated in the area of shale gas deposits.
Tensions are highest in the city of Slavyansk in the Donetsk region: it has been besieged by Kiev’s troops and armed militants of the Right Sector neo-Nazi union for weeks. The self defense forces in eastern Ukraine's newly-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic are on high alert.
It’s in the Donetsk Region that Shell signed, in January 2013, a 50-year profit sharing deal with the government of Ukraine to explore and drill for natural gas in shale rock formations.
These are future profits that Kiev doesn’t want to lose.
“I would say that the economic interest in this case is what’s driving the coup regime in Kiev to launch military actions against its own citizens, because they stand to make a profit from these contracts signed by the previous government,” foreign affairs expert Nebojsa Malic commented to RT.
US energy giant Chevron signed a similar deal for $10 billion last year, but it is focusing on developing shale gas reserves in the West of Ukraine.
Yet it’s not just energy giants that have a stake in Ukraine’s reserves.
The recent appointment of the US Vice President’s son, Hunter Biden, to the board of directors of Ukraine’s largest private gas producer, Burisma Holdings, has put the Ukrainian shale gas development deal into a new perspective.
Burisma holds licenses covering the Dnieper-Donets basin in the eastern Ukraine and Biden jr. is not the only American with political ties to have recently joined the company's board.
Devon Archer, a former senior advisor to current Secretary of State John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign and a college roommate of Kerry's stepson, signed up with Burisma in April.
“There is certainly no better demonstration of altruism and humanitarianism in a free market than criticizing a country for corruption, sponsoring a coup to overthrow the allegedly corrupt government - and then appointing sons and friends of American officials to be on boards of companies having interests in that country,” Nebojsa Malic said. “Surely, that is perfectly legal and above board,” he added.
Washington now props up the coup-imposed government in Kiev in any way it can, justifying its crackdown on the pro-federalist protesters under the pretext of maintaining the nation’s territorial integrity.
The interim government does not hesitate to use the army against the protesters in the East, including unarmed civilians, dubbing them ‘terrorists’ and ‘pro-Russian activists,’ which makes people in the eastern Ukraine strongly believe that it is not their interests that Kiev and its Western backers have at heart.
According to the UN, the death toll of victims in the Ukraine conflict that started last autumn has already surpassed 250, but the end of the crisis seems nowhere near.