Monday, 1 September 2008

Russia on receiving end of energy diplomacy

Throughout recent years, Russia has been accused of using its energy resources as an instrument of diplomacy, isolating the taps on oil pipelines going into Europe last winter and as recently as last month. The linked article also explains a certain perceived, energy dependence related EU handicap with respect to the EU's ability to conduct firm negotiations with Russian with respect to the conflict in Georgia.

But Australia has some leverage on the issue thanks to Russia's increasing interest in uranium - specifically the deal struck about 1 year ago regarding Australia's supply of uranium to Russia. Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said, "When considering ratification, the government will take into account not just the merits of the agreement but recent and ongoing events in Georgia and the state of Australia's bilateral relationship with the Russian Federation."

Smith made Australia's views clear to Russia when he summoned the Russian envoy last week to call on Moscow to pull its troops in Georgia back to the positions they held before the conflict began on August 8. He added that Russia's recognition of independence for the former Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia was unhelpful.

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