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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Up to his usual tricks

Vladimir Putin is using international strongarm tactics again. This time with the Republic of Georgia.

MOSCOW- Russia's natural gas monopoly threatened yesterday to more than double gas prices for Georgia, adding pressure on the small pro-Western nation amid a tense standoff between the two on a wide range of issues.

Gazprom said it wants to charge $230 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas, the price paid by European Union countries, up from the $110 it charges Georgia now.

The Russian firm has said such price increases are part of a process of shifting from subsidized prices for former Soviet bloc states to a market system.

Critics say the shift is intended to punish countries such as Georgia and Ukraine for seeking closer ties with the United States and the EU, including efforts to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Russian President Vladimir V. Putin has said that if the West wants these former Soviet states to receive gas at below-market prices, Western countries rather than Moscow should pay for the subsidies.
For the last few months tensions have been rising between these two countries over the last two years. Some Russian citizens being arrested in Georgia being part of why, but also historical Russian paranoia when events in neighboring countries don't go according to Moscow's plans or hopes.

Here the Natural gas issue is similar to one involving the Ukraine in late 2005 and early 2006 except for two vital reasons.

1- Unlike the Ukraine, Soviet natural gas pipelines don't run through the country on their way to Western Europe.
2- Georgia doesn't have a contract like Ukraine did, specifically setting the price of natural gas.

Russia is liable to get their way then, and Putin and his predecessor are likely to continue bully tactics against neighboring countries. It would be best for Russia's leaders if they would turn their attention inward for a change. A depopulation crisis is hitting Russia right at this moment and this can have serious ramifications for the country's stability in the not too distant future. I'd be worried about China not Georgia if I were Putin.

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