Stop using gas as a weapon

Bad cop, worse cop in the Kremlin.

Sergey Ivanov is a piece of work. Vladimir Putin’s bilious speech at last year’s Munich Conference on Security lacked only a lectern-pounding apocryphal shoe to take us back fifty years. Ivanov is Putin on Paxil; he soothingly assured this year’s conferencegoers that all is well in Russia—and can’t we all just get along?

Europe has no cause for concern over its growing dependence on Russian gas.

Partners can rest assured that Russia has been strictly fulfilling and will continue to fulfill all its commitments regarding energy supplies—I would like to stress that particularly.

Moreover, we do our best to develop our export potential and make it free from the political conditions in certain transit countries.

Putin must not have received that memo. Just two days later, Ukrainian President Yuschenko was in Moscow, forced to kiss Putin’s ring to forestall a cutoff of gas delivery to Ukraine—and to the much of the EU. Putin acceded, conditioned, it seems, on…political conditions in certain transit countries. At a press availability following their meeting, Putin was asked about Ukraine’s NATO bid.

It’s horrible to say and even horrible to think that, in response to the deployment of such facilities in Ukrainian territory, which cannot theoretically be ruled out, Russia could target its missile systems at Ukraine. Imagine this for a second. That is what worries us.

“Such facilities” are the proposed US missile-defense interceptors and radar (to protect against an Iranian missile launch) that have been proposed for NATO and the Czech Republic. Problem is, Ukraine is not a part of any such proposal. What would you do, Mr. Putin, if Norway deployed robot sharks—with lasers!—in the Arctic Sea?

Yuschenko, sitting next to Putin, looked as if we here daydreaming about getting a root canal.

Update: Hey, presto! It worked.

Aspiring NATO member Ukraine is prepared to adopt legislation banning the alliance’s bases from its soil, Russia’s RIA news agency quoted Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko as saying on Wednesday.

“If the Russian side is worried about military bases then Ukraine will never go for that … We are ready to underpin that constitutionally,” he said at a meeting with members of the Ukrainian community in Moscow.