In a little-noticed news item last week, Lithuania announced that it will re-open talks with its fellow Baltic states and Hitachi to open a nuclear plant outside of Visaginas.
Europe is tired of the Gazprom monopoly and isn’t going to take it any more. At least, that appears to be the message from Lithuania, which will take over the European Union’s rotating presidency in July.
This deal, should it come to pass, should confirm for Europe once and for all that Ukraine is ready to chart a new course in the West.
While the diplomatic and media worlds are focused eternally on Yulia Tymoshenko, if the reform program continues, there is some hope for Ukraine’s economy even in the face of the dismal economic picture and demographic hurdles Ukraine faces.
If this probe is not merely a prelude to cheaper gas for Poles and Lithuanians and a return to the status quo ante thereafter, perhaps Brussels will finally understand exactly what every Ukrainian suffers to keep the hope of European membership alive.
The European Commission’s action is fraught with geopolitical implications at a time when nostalgic Russian president Vladimir Putin is seeking to reestablish Moscow’s dominance over the former Soviet Union’s once vast empire.
Anything that breaks Gazprom’s stranglehold over Europe’s natural gas supply — and alleviates Ukrainian suffering — is a positive thing for European energy security, and security in general.
Baku has been able to weather this storm in no small part because of its unique makeup — its oil wealth, its careful development of non-petroleum industry, its historically tolerant Shi’i population, and its position at the crossroads of so many cultures and states in Eurasia.
The IMF has issued a report that appears to be a cautious signal that the IMF is open to re-opening the loan program, even though gas subsidies will likely remain in place at least through 2013.
The increasing cooperation between Poland, Lithuania, and wider Eastern Europe on energy could be one reason why Moscow has been seen recently as trying to drive a wedge between the Baltic neighbors.