By Robin Horsfall, retired SAS soldier, veterans campaigner and public speaker.
What is Russia really scared of?
If we step back from the tactical and strategic decisions that are taking place in Ukraine and take a more geopolitical view of the changes that have occurred in the past twenty years there is one well documented part of the equation that is being ignored.
At the end of the Orange Revolution in 2004 Ukraine turned away from Russia towards the west. This period of change coincided with the discovery of very large oil and gas deposits across Ukraine. The reserves of fossil fuels under Ukraine are estimated to be equal to those currently supplied by Norway to the EU.
Russia meanwhile was establishing itself as the ‘Gas Station’ of the EU. Russia built pipelines from Siberia across Ukraine and Belarus into eastern Europe and gradually came to dominate EU energy supply. This was attractive to Europe because it reduced the oil and gas hegemony of unstable middle eastern nations.
The major oil developers’ Shell, Exon and Chevron all began negotiations with Ukraine to open up their oil fields and give UA its own ‘gas station’ status. At the same time Ukraine began an application to join the EU. This was a genuine threat to Russia. It had the power to reduce the Russian economy by as much as 40%. The infrastructure to transport oil and gas were already in place because they ran across Ukraine. Ukraine energy could supplant Russian energy.
The two main regions where these reserves sit are – Crimea and Donbas. The Russian led insurgency in Donbas and the annexation of Crimea destabilised Ukraine enough for the energy companies to withdraw. The EU has decided to have a carbon free economy by 2050 meaning that profits from the oil fields would have an ever shortening profit margin.
Russia doesn’t need Ukrainian oil but they do want to ensure that only their oil and gas flows to Europe. They thought if they could hold Donbas and Crimea they would protect their economy.
They have achieved the opposite. The Nord Stream pipeline to Germany has been cancelled, the EU has agreed an oil embargo, the need to speed up alternative energy sources has received new impetus. Soon Russia will not be able to sell its oil and gas and it has very little else to sell.
Like most wars around the world the need and desire for energy is the leading underlying cause. However, by invading Ukraine, Russia has has cut its own throat.
Who Dares Shares.