FNI Report 12/2009. Lysaker, FNI, 2009, 84 p. In Norwegian.
This report looks into the question of whether Russia uses gas as a means of solving political conflicts in its bilateral relations with Ukraine. The report explores both gas relations and central political conflicts between the two countries. All relations are followed from the end of 1991 to the beginning of 2009. Neoclassical realism and complex interdependence are used to separate political and economic motives. The main part of the empirical material supports complex interdependence and the contention that Russia struggles to keep the gas sector and political conflicts separated. Ukraine has throughout the period been heavily indebted partly as a consequence of excess consumption of gas which the country has had problems paying for. Gazprom has clearly had an economic incentive to demand payment for this gas. However, due to Ukraine’s position as a transit country for the bulk of Russian gas export, Russia has been very vulnerable. In instances when supplies to Ukraine have been reduced, Ukraine has compensated by diverting some volumes intended for Europe, which again has led to financial loss for Russia, and a dent in the image of Russia as a reliable gas provider for Europe. This vulnerability can explain why Russia has used much time and effort on negotiations and compromises with Ukraine within the gas sector during the period considered in this report.