German Expert Alexander Rahr: Ukraine Might Steal Gas Bound For Europe

MOSCOW, Russia -- There is a risk that, if Kyiv and Moscow do not settle their dispute over Ukraine's debt for natural gas imported from Russia by the end of 2008, Ukraine might start siphoning off gas from the transit pipeline running further to Western Europe, said Alexander Rahr, the Russia/Eurasia program director at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP).

Alexander Rahr

"There are concerns that, while it is unclear who actually controls the transit pipeline in Ukraine, some forces there could illegally siphon off transit gas for domestic needs. Such a risk does exist," Rahr told Interfax.

"Ukraine should understand what political risks it could face if gas supplies to Europe stop," Rahr said.

"If it resorts to this, then, in addition to harming Russia, it will also harm itself and its image as a reliable country transiting Russian energy to the West," he said.

As regards Europe's attitude toward the gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine, "Europe is very egoistic in this respect," he said.

"Europe believes that what matters above all is to receive its gas, and it is not inclined to look into the essence of this conflict to see whether Ukraine steals the gas, who is to blame, and why Russia cuts off gas supplies to Ukraine. Europe is demanding what it is entitled to, and if it doesn't get it, it would always begin to blame the one from whom it expects to receive gas, namely Russia, without getting into the situation, for which Ukraine is actually responsible," he said.

Some political forces in Ukraine could make use of certain political nuances to destabilize the situation, he said.

"For the sake of promoting Ukraine's integration into NATO and the European Union, some Ukrainian forces would manipulate this situation, steal transit gas, and accuse Russia of the lack of gas supplies to Europe in order to artificially unleash a conflict," he said.

"This is how Ukraine is acting these days, and this is how the Baltic states are acting," he said.

"This is a silent war that Eastern European countries are now waging against Russia," he said.

Source: Interfax


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