Like most in the Daily Kos community, I want Barack Obama to start a nuclear war with Russia as soon as possible. I'm not a sucker for Russian propaganda! Unfortunately, this is not going to happen. In fact, we don't have much leverage at all against Russia. Simply put, Russia controls too much of Europe's energy supply for the nuclear holocaust we crave to ever happen -- Crimea or no.
Gazprom is Russia's enormous, state-controlled, multi-headed energy and national resources mega-conglomerate.
How big? It is said to account for ten percent of Russia's GDP.
State-controlled? Yep. Russia owns 50% of the company, plus one share. But who is controlling whom? The former head of Gazprom, Dmitri Medvedev, went on to be the President of the Russian Federation, when Putin had to swap in a substitute to get around Russian term limit laws. As with Goldman Sachs in the U.S., Gazprom executives go in and out of government through a revolving door that guarantees them access to policymaking at the very highest levels.
Multi-headed? Gazprom owns a dizzying array of energy, natural resources and financial subsidiaries inside and outside of Russia. It is tentacled into everything, domestically and globally.
We are Daily Kos. We crave war. Specifically, we crave a nuclear war with Russia because a U.S.-backed revolutionary movement ousted the legitimately-elected government of their country and Russia responded by occupying a part of Ukraine in a show of strength. To disagree is to fall for Russia propaganda.
However, the nuclear war will not happen -- nor will sanctions be effective in dealing with Russia.
First, Russia knows that the U.S. and Europe don't really give a damn about Ukraine.
If we did, we'd be offering them a far more attractive deal to abandon Russia and seek the comforting arms of the West. We'd be giving them cash -- lots of it. Developmental aid. Access to markets. European Union membership. Schengen-treaty borders.
We're offering them punishing austerity measures that will deeply damage their economy and further destabilize it politically, while keeping it isolated and out of the European mainstream. We. Don't. Care. About. Ukraine. Except to whatever degree we can make it useful to us by antagonizing Russia.
Second, Gazprom. Gazprom, Gazprom, Gazprom.
Russia's mega-conglomerate is absolutely pre-emininent as a gas supplier to the European Union. This sentence from Wikipedia says it all:
By the end of 2004 Gazprom was the sole gas supplier to at least Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Finland, Macedonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Serbia and Slovakia, and provided 97% of Bulgaria's gas, 89% of Hungary's, 86% of Poland's, nearly three-quarters of the Czech Republic's, 67% of Turkey's, 65% of Austria's, about 40% of Romania's, 36% of Germany's, 27% of Italy's, and 25% of France's.And Russia's government controls both price and availability of all it.
Sanctions? What sanctions? Europe and the U.S. aren't going to do anything that threatens that.
Plus, remember what I said about Gazprom being owned 50% plus one share by Russia?
The exact ownership of Gazprom is difficult to track down online, as it is administered through a complicated arrangement whereby Russia owns half the company outright and the rest is split between to schemes, one of which accounts for 26.5% of the company and is held through American Depository Receipts and the other accounts for 23.5% and is held through various capital investment deals.
The conventional wisdom, however, is that American individuals and companies hold the majority of privately-held shares in Gazprom, meaning that moves against Russia's biggest exporter -- again, sanctions -- will likely punish some big movers and shakers whose lobbyists are more or less permanent residents of the White House and Congress.
Back to the Crimea.
Yeah, Russia is occupying it. It might take it. And it looks like the Crimean population would largely support such a move.
We ain't going to declare war on Russia -- sorry, folks. And we can't impose meaningful sanctions on them.
What we can do is put together an aid and development package for Ukraine that draws them closer into the Western sphere with promises that we'll let them share in our prestige and prosperity.
We're not going to do that either. We're all Neo-liberals here. We know what happens to countries that get into a debt they cannot pay -- they are stripmined by wealthier countries and their assets are sold off to our corporations and oligarchic class.
We're lucky to have a missing Malaysian plane to keep us occupied for now, because the Ukraine situation is Russia's to play with at this point. They can do whatever they want.