Interview with Mikhail Krutikhin
Russia Today: What can we read into these statements that were made today?
Mikhail Krutikhin: We aren’t surprised because the same situation has been repeating for about five years, since 2002, when the first warning sounded for Belarus. In fact, Gazprom is saying, “Yes, your suspicions were true and we are not a reliable energy supplier to Europe”.
RT: But Gazprom is now warning Europe that supplies might be reduced if the payments are not received in time. So, how much significance do you attach to that? Is that a loaded message in a sense?
M.K.: Yes, I think so, because there are several reasons for such warnings. And one of them is very important: Gazprom just doesn’t have the potential to produce as much gas as it has signed contracts for, both abroad and inside Russia. We know about shortages on the domestic market. And I believe there could be some interruptions in supplies on the European market, too.
RT: If the conflict is not resolved, you mean?
M.K.: Well, even if the conflict is settled.
RT: Given what’s going on in Ukraine at the moment – the parliamentary election and the vote counting – what can we say as to the timing of the statement?
M.K: Well, considering the fact that Gazprom is not exactly a business-driven company – it’s a political organization that is managed directly from the Presidential Administration in the Kremlin – I can suspect that this is not a coincidence.
RT: Still, Gazprom is a company that is concerned about its reputation and it wants to be a reliable supplier of energy sources.
M.K.:I think, Gazprom does not accept the usual business psychology of reaching a win-win situation in its relationships with customers. And if Gazprom sees that someone is not given up to its offensive, then Gazprom thinks that they have lost the case.
RT: But Ukraine has debts to pay. Don’t you thing that Gazprom has the right for such measures?
M.K.: Exactly. Ukraine is a very convenient customer for Gazprom because it protects to explain the shortages of gas supply. Firstly, there are shortages of gas supply. And secondly, the government can choose some convenient victim to accuse of being insolvent or hampering gas deliveries to Europe. And once it was Belarus, the other time it is Ukraine and I don’t know who can be the victim next time.