Speaking last week that the South Stream Project was completely shut down and gas transit through Ukraine would be stopped, the head of Gazprom Alexei Miller explained: “That’s how the Russian side adapts to the new rules of the game, which were created by the West without considering the opinion of such an an important counteragent.” Fyodor Lukyanov, the editor-in-chief of Russia in Global Politics journal, told Vestnik Kavkaza about sanctions, countersanctions, and the gas issue.
Recently it was found out that seven EU countries support the elimination of anti-Russian sanctions, including Austria, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, France and the Czech Republic. Japan and Germany stand for softening sanctions and continuation of dialogue with Russia. However, soon the information was leveled down by a message that Barack Obama and David Cameron had agreed on preserving the sanctions against Russia. Do you think the EU is not tired of anti-Russian sanctions?
The EU is not an old lady to be tired of something. There is a certain balance of forces and interests, which is changing. Anti-Russian sanctions and sanctions by Russia against the EU damage certain countries and industries significantly. The position of social and professional strata which consider the sanctions to be senseless has become firmer today.
At the same time, there is a political establishment which relies on political approaches rather than economic ones. And the situation is very complicated, as Ukraine is unstable, prospects of a resolution are hazy. Russia is firmly considered to be a country which is involved in the conflict, and it would be impossible to change the sharp course without any progress in the Ukrainian settlement.
Even countries which want this don't have enough arguments. In the end, everything in Europe depends on Germany and its positio,n which is very complicated. On the one hand, Germany is significantly suffering from the economic consequences of the sanctions, but politically it is interested in a stiffer course.
Thus, the current dynamic is that the anti-sanctions forces in Europe are stronger than six months ago, but we cannot speak about a dramatic change. Are sanctions against Russia harmful for Europe itself?
Of course they are harmful. Sanctions are always mutual; but a political decision was made there, and it prevailed over economic reasonableness. Are rumors on elimination of sanctions connected with the statement by Alexei Miller that the gas flow would be redirected through Turkey?
I think they are not connected with Miller’s statement. First of all, Europe hasn’t comprehended Miller’s statement completely. They cannot understand whether it is a real radical change in the model of relations or a way of putting on pressure, bluffing, or something else. They haven’t understood whether it is serious or not. Gas relations are not connected with sanctions directly, as the changes have an objective character and are connected with fundamental changes in the European gas market. They didn’t start yesterday. They will continue to deepen, and Gazprom – whether there will be sanctions or not – will have to reconsider its model of relations with Europe. We cannot say how it will happen – radically and confrontationally or harmonically, as part of a search for new mutual interests.