EU Commissioner Competition Gazprom EU Commissioner/Wikton Dabkowski/Flickr

Europa versus Gazprom

NEW YORK – De Russische president Poetin heeft de Europese afhankelijkheid van de natuurlijke gasreserves van zijn land jarenlang als wapen in zijn buitenlandpolitiek gehanteerd, zonder bang te hoeven zijn zich door de Europese Unie in de kaarten te laten kijken; tot nu toe tenminste. Nu de EU een kartelzaak tegen het door de staat gecontroleerde gasconglomeraat Gazprom begint, geeft Europa een duidelijk signaal af dat Poetin’s bruutheid niet meer zo intimiderend is als deze eens was.

De boodschap van de Europese commissaris voor Mededinging – namelijk dat de regels van de markt voor iedereen gelden – is er een die Poetin al jaren naast zich neer legt. Het bouwen op economische en juridische middelen om zijn politieke doelen te bereiken is al lange tijd een kenmerk van zijn regeerstijl. Meer dan tien jaar geleden onteigende het Kremlin Yukos Oil, dat op dat moment verantwoordelijk was voor 20% van de totale Russische productie, en zette oprichter Michail Chodorkovski, nadat hij het lef had Poetin te opponeren, op basis van verzonnen aanklachten wegens belastingontduiking tien jaar gevangen,.

Alle grote spelers in de Russische energie-centristische economie begonnen hierna spoedig politiek in de pas te lopen en stelden Poetin zo in staat om de olie- en gasexporten van het land te gebruiken als een geopolitieke stok om mee te slaan. EU-landen die hij dankzij de NAVO niet militair kon intimideren werden gepaaid met kortingen – of gestraft met prijsverhogingen.

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