Andrew Nikiforuk writes that petropolitics are behind what is going on in Ukraine:
Russia, a true petro state, sits on one-fifth of the world's natural gas supply. About one-third of the natural gas burnt in Europe comes from Russia via Ukraine, which once housed the Russian capital centuries ago. In addition, Russia almost exports as much oil as Saudi Arabia.
Not surprisingly, Putin gets his political mojo from oil and gas revenues just as Margaret Thatcher once secured her power base on proceeds from the North Sea. Nearly 50 per cent of Russia's total budget depends on the sale of hydrocarbons.
It's a familiar story these days:
The story should be familiar to most North Americans. In U.S. political lingo, Ukraine is a blue state dependent on energy imports from Russia, the powerful red state next door. They share a tense master-slave relationship.
And, of course, our prime minister plays the same game, although he lectures Putin on his wrong headed approach to international relations. Those relations these days have become toxic -- because oil and gas corrupt petro states.
It's time, Nikiforuk writes, to recognize a few petro truths:
As long as energy prices remain high and fill government coffers, Putin will use energy to keep the former Soviet Union in his fold and to strut his stuff.
• It is unlikely that Ukraine will break free of its corrupt energy relationship with Russia anytime soon. Expect more oligarchs and instability.
• The West ignores its greatest vulnerability: unsustainable energy spending. Cheap energy created energy-intensive, capitalist, growth-oriented and market-driven systems, and expensive energy will unravel the miracle.
• Extreme and high-cost energy from unconventional resources, such as deep ocean oil and bitumen, with lower energy returns, has now constricted much of the industrial world and locked it in stagnation.
• Industrial nations are cannibalizing their economies to run faster on an energy treadmill. Strangely, they think Putin is mad.
• In this brave new world, energy exporters will behave like masters and energy importers will submit like slaves. And there will be more and more Ukraines.
It's poisonous politics. And it's madness.