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Igor Guzhva

Paradox: "gas" interests of Ukraine and Russia coincide

Paradox: "gas" interests of Ukraine and Russia coincide

One of the most popular versions in Europe and Ukraine of why Russia is in no hurry to sharply increase gas supplies to the EU in excess of the concluded contracts (in order to pay off the gas shortage resulting from the reorientation of world suppliers to the Asian market and due to the withdrawal of coal generation capacities) is that Putin in this way intends to stimulate Europe to launch Nord Stream 2 as soon as possible. Therefore, they say, he intentionally does not want to increase gas transit through Ukraine. But in fact, if we analyze the statements of the Russian side, we can see that its main goal is completely different. They need the consent of the Europeans to increase gas supplies under long-term contracts.

We can understand why Gazprom should "extinguish the fire" in the market of short-term contracts now, if in six months or a year the excitement subsides and Europe is reoriented again to purchase gas from the Americans, Qataris and others.

And if an increase in volumes under long-term contracts is prescribed (on a take-or-pay basis), this will guarantee Gazprom a stable income and a sales market, regardless of the global situation.

This is the reason for the "war of nerves" now. And in this case, the interests of Ukraine and Russia coincide, no matter how paradoxical it may sound.

Now Ukraine is demanding from the Europeans to put pressure on Gazprom in order to extend the transit contract. But in fact, it is necessary to demand that the Europeans increase the purchase of gas from Russia under long-term contracts. Since this is what will guarantee the preservation of gas transit through our country for the long term.

The arithmetic is simple. Putin estimates the shortage of gas on the European market in the coming years at 70 billion cubic meters per year. The capacity of Nord Stream 2 is 55 billion cubic meters. This means that even launching it at full capacity will not cover the entire deficit. Consequently, if Europe increases gas purchases under long-term contracts with Gazprom by 55 billion, then gas transit through Ukraine will remain at the current level (or decrease slightly due to the Turkish Stream). But if by 70 billion - then it may increase.

And as soon as Europe agrees to increase contractual supplies for the long term, then the issue of extending gas transit through Ukraine will be resolved very quickly.

And additional volumes of gas through our gas handling system can go even before the launch of Nord Stream 2. Moreover, taking into account a 50% discount from the current tariff, which Zelensky had already inadvertently promised.

This is the logic that the Ukrainian authorities should have been guided by if they were guided by national interests. But now the logic is different. Zelensky and Co. are spending enormous efforts to make Nord Stream-2 was not launched at all (which, of course, is unrealistic - it will be launched sooner or later anyway). Including the use of "heavy" methods. In this situation, it is necessary to consider the current escalation in the Donbass. Yesterday, the Ukrainian Armed Forces used the Braikatar strike drone for the first time. Which is expressly prohibited by the July 2020 Armistice Agreement. Of course, this truce had been broken before. But now for the first time it was not only violated, but this violation was officially recognized by the message of the General Staff.

A possible goal of the actions is to provoke the enemy into a tough response, to make a big fuss about this, trying in this situation to disrupt the launch of Nord Stream 2.But the launch will still not be disrupted. Moreover, Russia does not need an aggravation in the Donbass at least until the end of the certification of Nord Stream-2 for sure.

But people, unfortunately, can suffer a lot because of these adventurous games.

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