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24 Apr, 2009 08:40

ROAR: Russian Opinion and Analytics Review, Apr.24

ROAR: Russian Opinion and Analytics Review, Apr.24

This Friday ROAR presents an interview on Russia-U.S. relations, and an opinion on the new world geometry of oil interests among nations.

VREMYA NOVOSTEI publishes an interview with former Soviet dissident and current president of the American university in Moscow, Eduard Lozansky. The academic speaks of the 28th World Russia Forum that will open next week in Washington. He says that the first Forum in 1981 was held as a gift to Academician Andrey Sakharov, then under house arrest in the Soviet Union for his dissident convictions.

Since then, Lozansky continues, the Forum was transformed into a discussion platform on U.S. – Russia relations, with its task being to bring America and Russia closer together in the modern world. Its long-term goal is to unite the U.S. and Russia in an economic, political, and military alliance, without which, as the Forum participants believe, the global problems of the XXI Century cannot be solved.

Asked if such objectives are unrealistic, the academic says that the number of U.S. academics, analysts, and government officials who share these ideas is growing constantly, and the recent meeting of the two Presidents has added to the positive dynamics of the Forum participation. This time, says Lozanskiy, even senior members of the administration are not shy to show up at the Forum venue. He says, the old toast of human rights advocates in the Soviet Union, ‘Let’s drink to the success of our hopeless cause,’ applies no more, and the cause – in this case the U.S. – Russia alliance, is not truly hopeless.

In NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA, Dr. Dmitry Orlov of the Agency of Political and Economic Communications writes about the new geometry of national oil interests among the great powers.

He writes that the new pipeline linking Eastern Siberia with the Pacific Ocean is going to drastically change the oil market of the Asia-Pacific region.

The author says that the oil exports development program suggested by Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin is not going against government crisis management efforts, but adds feasibility to them. Sechin considers oil to be a commodity with one of the highest liquidity rates, notwithstanding the level of oil prices at any particular moment.

Sechin’s concept, says the author, presumes diversification of oil export markets as a guarantee of permanent income for the Russian state and private oil producers. For that reason, Sechin is against Russia’s membership in OPEC – that would have limited Russia’s options in diversification.

The author says that the European market is very stable and reliable, but it is also conservative, and further development there would mean replacing the main pipelines with technically more advanced new ones, rather than restructuring the delivery operation.

He points out the Asia-Pacific region as the field for the future development of Russia’s exports. At the first stage, the author sees China as the main recipient of Russian oil from newly developed deposits. However, he says, China is bound to attempt to limit Russian export to its own market, and preventing Russia from entering the markets of Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia. That would be unacceptable for Russia, says the author, hence the second branch of the new Eastern Siberia – Pacific coast pipeline (the first one will go to China), that will supply oil to other buyers.

Orlov says, quoting Vladimir Putin, that infrastructural development is key to the overall development of the Russian Far East. For the oil business, infrastructure means the pipelines first and foremost.

He formulates the main principles of the Russian pipeline policy as he sees them: the pipelines go through mostly Russian territory or, if not, allow Russia to effectively influence the foreign partner through whose territory they go; In addition, the pipelines belong to the state or its business agent, generate significant income for the state. allow the state to effectively influence the policies of the oil producing companies, allow the avoidance of dependence on one supplier, allow for the manipulation of market segments in response to national and seasonal demand fluctuations, and facilitate the strengthening of Russia’s geopolitical interests.

Apart from China, writes Orlov, the U.S. is another factor of influence on Russia’s oil export policies. He says that the U.S. is trying to monitor and affect China’s oil imports through its own influence among the main exporters of the Middle East. In that sense, Russia is offering China an oil import deal which is totally outside the sphere of American control. The U.S. is also interested in containing Russia’s oil exports to the Asia-pacific region for the same reason: it will be losing influence in Southeast Asia if the dependence on Middle Eastern oil there is diminished. However, says Orlov, the current trend in Russia-U.S. relations allows one to think that these matters could one day end up on the negotiating table to be thoroughly and accommodatingly discussed by the two sides.

For Russia, he concludes, the main goal is to maintain its freedom of choice in oil exports: in the energy business, too, there’s national sovereignty.

Evgeniy Belenkiy, RT