Monday, January 02, 2006

russia making friends, influencing people

Russia wants Ukraine to pay nearly five times more for natural gas, effective immediately. Ukraine says it's willing to pay the higher price, but wants to phase it in. Not good enough says Russia, so it shuts off the pipelines on New Years Day.

Bad for Ukraine -- and unfortunately bad for the rest of chilly Europe since the supplies to places like Germany and Italy go thru Ukraine.

One of the evening news broadcasts yesterday noted this happened on the day Russia assumed the chairmanship of the G-8, the group of "major industrial democracies." Russian membership in this group is a joke, since it is no more democratic than places like Pakistan or Egypt. But hey, a few years ago somebody had the bright of inviting Yeltsin as an observer to the G-7 Summit and it slowly evolved into a permanent spot at the table, giving Bush, Blair and the rest an annual chance to share the dais with good old Vladimir Putin, former KGB hack, who has smothered Russia's never-strong democracy in its infancy.