By Drs. Robert & Sonia Vogl
President and Vice President, Illinois Renewable Energy Association
A long-standing goal of the European Union (EU) has been to reduce its dependence on Russia for natural gas. In previous years, Russia cut off supplies in the middle of winter in a pricing dispute with Ukraine, adversely impacting much of Europe. Reducing gas imports has not occurred, and Europe continues importing 40 percent of its gas from Russia.
David Herron sees Ukraine involved in a geopolitical power struggle between the U.S., the EU and Russia over the control of natural gas supplies to Europe and which interests gain the right to frack for gas.
A report from the U.S. State Department’s “Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program” sheds more light on developments in the Ukraine. The program was developed by the Barack Obama administration and is charged with exporting hydraulic fracturing technology around the globe. The intent is to maintain the dominance of fossil fuels in global energy supplies.
According to Heron the political split in the Ukraine corresponds to the location of two relevant shale gas deposits in the country. One in the western portion leans toward Europe and the second in the eastern portion is more aligned with Russia.
In the eastern portion, the city of Kharkiv is central to a shale gas reservoir in the Dnieper-Donet basin. In the western portion, the city of Lviv is the second major shale formation in the Carapthian basin.
According to F. William Engdahl, shortly before Ukrainian President Vicktor Yanukovich was driven from office, EU delegates from Germany, France and Poland met with him, three opposition leaders and a Russian representative to reach an agreement to end the strife in Kiev. The negotiations did not include the United States. The agreement broke down a short time later as rooftop snipers began killing street demonstrators and riot police; soon after that, the opposition gained control over Kiev.
Democracy Now interviewed retired Professor Stephen Cohen regarding the involvement of an intercepted phone call among U.S. diplomats planning which opposition leaders would be put in power and how the Ukraine is a fulcrum in the geopolitical struggle between the West and East.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Pyatt, speaking with Victoria Nuland. The significance of what she is saying? She also had gone to Ukraine and was feeding protesters on the front line.
STEPHEN COHEN: Cookies, cookies. Well, here again, the American political media establishment, including the right and the left and the center—because they’re all complicit in this nonsense—focused on the too sensational, they thought, aspect of that leaked conversation.
She said, “F— the European Union,” and everybody said, “Oh, my god! She said the word.” The other thing was, who leaked it? “Oh, it was the Russians. Those dirty Russians leaked this conversation.” But the significance is what you just played. What are they doing?
The highest-ranking State Department official, who presumably represents the Obama administration, and the American ambassador in Kiev are, to put it in blunt terms, plotting a coup d’état against the elected president of Ukraine.
Now, that said, Amy, Juan, you may say to me—neither of you would, but hypothetically—”That’s a good thing. We don’t like—we don’t care if he was elected democratically. He’s a rat. He’s corrupt.” And he is all those things. He is.
“Let’s depose him. That’s what the United States should do. Then the United States should stand up and say, ’That’s what we do: We get rid of bad guys. We assassinate them, and we overthrow them.’” But in Washington and in Brussels, they lie: They’re talking about democracy now.
They’re not talking about democracy now; they’re talking about a coup now.
AMY GOODMAN: But explain the names. Who is Klitsch, Yats?
STEPHEN COHEN: All right. And notice the intimacy with which the Americans deal with the two leading so-called “moderate”—and these are big shots, they both want to be president—Ukrainian opposition.
Klitschko is Vitali Klitschko, a six-foot-eight former—he resigned his title two months ago to enter politics—heavyweight champion of the world. His residence has been Ukraine—I mean, Germany. He plays—he pays taxes in Germany. He’s a project of Merkel.
He represents German interests. I’m sure he’s also faithful to Ukraine, but he’s got a problem. Yatsenyuk, however—not Yatsenyuk, but the other guy she calls “Yats” is a representative of the Fatherland Party. It’s a big party in Parliament. But Washington likes him a lot.
They think he’ll be our man. So you could see what they’re saying. We don’t quite trust Klitschko. Now, if you want to get esoteric, that’s the tug between Washington and Berlin. They’re not happy with Merkel, the chancellor of Germany.
They don’t like the role Merkel is playing, generally. They think Germany has gotten too big for its britches. They want to cut Merkel down. So you noticed Klitschko, the boxer, is Merkel’s proxy, or at least she’s backing him.
You notice that they say, “He’s not ready for prime time. Let him do his homework.”
Now, this guy—I’m bad on Ukrainian names. Tyagnybok, that they say has got to play a role, he’s the leader of the Freedom Party, the Svoboda Party, but a large element of that party, to put it candidly, is quasi-fascist. And they’re prepared to embrace this guy.
This is the guy, by the way, that Senator John McCain in November or December went to Kiev and embraced. Either McCain didn’t know who he was, or he didn’t care.
The United States is prepared to embrace that guy, too—anything to get rid of Yanukovych, because they think this is about Putin. That’s all they really got on their mind.
Another connection, according to Herron, is “Energy and Security from the Caspian to Europe,” a report from the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations with Chairman John Kerry.
As head of the U.S. State Department, Kerry now leads efforts to export hydraulic fracturing technology. The Senate report discussed ways to bring oil and gas supplies from the Caspian Sea area to Europe without crossing Russian territory. Building pipelines across the Caspian into Turkey would accomplish that goal.
They’re building pipeline(s) across the Caspian Sea into Turkey in order to do so, making Turkey a key ally to NATO and the European Union.
The pipeline will also allow Iraqi gas to make it to Europe, that is if the Iraqi’s can settle issues about distribution of the wealth. According to the report, several countries in Eastern Europe are saddled with importing 60% or more of Natural Gas from Russia.
The Caspian pipeline will allow those countries to be supplied by different remote countries than Russia. Further it discusses how the US natural gas boom (thanks to Fracking) is letting the US supply LNG to Europe, freeing them from dependency on Russia.
The overthrow of a Russian-backed government in Ukraine through a a popular upraising is extremely historically significant. However, we see that it’s just one aspect of a larger political struggle between Russia and Europe and the US.
Despite President Obama’s assertion otherwise, Ukraine is just a square on a global chessboard.
Shipping LPG obtained from the U.S. boom in fracking natural gas helps reduce European dependence on Russian gas. Dependency could also be reduced by allowing fracking in Europe and increasing the use of renewable energy, which would also help the EU reach its carbon reduction goals.
Six new U.S. LPG export facilities have been approved since 2010, and another 24 applications are in the pipeline. Increasing consumption of natural gas accelerates pollution and climate change and slows the growth of renewables.
Drs. Robert and Sonia Vogl are founders and officers of the Illinois Renewable Energy Association (IREA) and coordinate the annual Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the March 12-18, 2014 print edition
Recently I’ve written several reports about efforts to initiate hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations in shale deposits in Ukraine, and Romania.
What emerged is a US State Department program, the Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program, whose mission is to facilitate the export of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) techniques around the world.
The State Department of course isn’t doing the fracking, but is facilitating the entry of Western oil companies like Chevron into countries so that Chevron (and other companies) can set up fracking operations.
Ukraine has two large shale deposits, plus easy access to pipelines which already supply Europe with natural gas.
That means Ukraine is well positioned to become rich supplying Europe with natural gas (which requires fracking the shale), while helping Europe diversify away from dependence Russia. If, that is, Ukraine remains independent enough to do all that.