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A 'Puppet in Putin's Hands,' Snowden Paved Way to Ukraine Crisis (Rzeczpospolita, Poland)

 

"The opening of shale gas exports from the U.S. to Europe, and Europeís emancipation from GAZPROM, is Putin's biggest nightmare, and is an issue addressed under the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership ... It is important that the Snowden scandal acts as an incentive to finding a solution, rather than as a pretext for killing the agreement. ... Today, from the perspective of Russiaís aggression against Ukraine, the purpose of the Snowden affair is clear. By revealing information that triggered European concern, Snowden was really a puppet in Putinís hands. Through his revelations he was to stir protests in Europe against TTIP."

 

By Paweł Zalewski

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Transited By Halszka Czarnocka

 

March 31, 2014

 

Poland Ė Rzeczpospolita Ė Original Article (Polish)

Did Russian President Vladmimir Putin use Edward Snowden to scuttle a free trade deal between the United States and Europe, thus preventing U.S. natural gas from undermining Russia's leverage in Europe? Polish lawmaker Pawel Zalewski lays out the details.

 

WDR NEWS VIDEO, GERMANY: The European Commissioner for Trade answers questions about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, Feb. 3, 00:24:11RealVideo

The Kremlin can continue playing Cold War and turning Russia into a post-Soviet open-air museum. If it does, its only argument for dealing with the outside world will be the atomic bomb, since it can kiss its 'natural gas weapon' good-bye, writes Citizensí Platform European Parliament MP Paweł Zalewski.

 

The era of post Cold War peace is over. Russian aggression in Crimea means something more than annexation of the peninsula. Vladimir Putinís goals go much further than subjugating Ukraine. After gaining the upper hand over the European Union, Putin wants to chip away at it and force solutions beneficial to himself, using blackmail or buying off individual member countries. Are we, the Western Community, defenseless against the determined policies of the aggressor? In no way!

 

Threats and destabilization

 

Several years ago, experts realized that the model of Russian development, which depended on importing modern technology in exchange for funds gleaned from the export of natural resources, wasn't working. Russia hasn't modernized, while its extensive economic growth based on the sale of oil and natural gas has reinforced its autocratic system. On the other hand, the European Union has continued to integrate and has begun to resist the Kremlinís all-out exploitation of the E.U.'s Central European members. Proceedings have begun against GAZPROM for its monopolistic practices, challenges are being mounted to the legal basis for building the South Stream Pipeline, and construction has begun of new connections between gas delivery systems. The continuation of such policies by Europe forces GAZPROM to compete in other regions, which will translate into a radical reduction of GAZPROM profits.

 

GAZPROM revenue is Russiaís main source of wealth. Therefore, the Kremlin has to mount a counter-offensive. It must gain the upper hand in order to frighten and splinter the European Union. That is why Russia intends to edge closer to the Union's eastern border by making Ukraine its vassal and stationing Russian forces on its territory (annexing Crimea), similar to what it has done in Belarus. Such is the purpose of Russia's massive arms program at a time in which European countries, apart from Poland and Norway, are limiting their military potential. Russia has no instruments of influence other than the use of threats to destabilize the situation in neighboring countries. Today the pretext is to protect Russian minorities; tomorrow, it will perhaps be enough to use blackmail by citing alleged anti-Russian sentiments.

 

The Common Market

 

The character of international relations in Europe is changing before our eyes. Rather than a free partnership, the situation has become confrontational. For the time being, the Kremlin is on the offensive. Wednesday's E.U.-U.S. summit is historic because as a consequence, responses will be sought to the Kremlinís aggressive policies. In the long run, the key to resisting Putin's policies is to boost transatlantic integration. In the short run, the central issue is safeguarding European energy security. These issues are addressed by the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which has been under negotiation for the past year. When signed, it will not only create a duty-free zone, but first and foremost, it will harmonize standards on the quality and safety of products, services, etc. This will lead to the creation of a common market area encompassing 50 percent of the world's GDP.

 

Transatlantic economic integration, apart from being the engine of the global economy, will shore up the foundations of NATO, which will cease to be merely a community of geopolitical interests. Broader economic bonds will build a stronger political community, making reciprocal security obligations more realistic. The Kremlin will have hard time exerting influence in this new Europe. Conversely, Russia wants to cooperate with us, and it is welcome. We would all benefit from such an outcome. However, in order for this to happen, Russia will have to accept the standards and values of the civilized world, where there is no room for military aggression, corruption, and fortunes made at the expense of society.

 

The Kremlin can continue to play Cold War, turning Russia into a post-Soviet open-air museum where its only argument in relation to the world is the atomic bomb. It can kiss its "natural gas weapon" good-bye, and competing in other economic areas is now out of the question. It is worth stressing that the TTIP is not an anti-Russia initiative. What is anti-Russia is the Kremlinís polities, which force this powerful country to the margins of history.

 

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The process of building a common transatlantic market will last years. We need quicker solutions, which is why the inclusion of energy cooperation into the TTIP is so important. It is essential that America's international trade regulator agrees to the export of shale gas to the European Union. This of course will require the construction of the appropriate infrastructure at U.S. ports, but in the event that negotiations are successful, this will be feasible in a few years. I raised this issue a year ago, during a visit to Washington by the European Parliament Committee on International Trade. Our counterparts in the U.S. Congress and administration were very open to the idea. Now everything depends on the leadership on both sides of the Atlantic.

 

American gas export

 

The emergence of the United States as a gas suppliermeans at least two things. First, a rise in supply will lower prices on the blue fuel [natural gas]. Prices won't drop to the level of the American domestic market, but any lowering of costs is beneficial to European industry. In turn, this will force Russia to change its current policy of basing its finances on "carbon profits."

 

Second, by increasing the supply of gas in Europe, the U.S. will bring us closer to the goal, which is, based on the concept of European energy security, creating a truly free market for natural gas within the E.U. The development of adequate infrastructure (mainly of gas terminals) will allow for a genuine diversification of the gas supply and allow the free-market to set the price. On the other hand, from the perspective of Russia, it means the collapse of the current model of "pipeline geopolitics."

 

Posted By Worldmeets.US

The opening of shale gas exports from the U.S. to Europe, and Europeís emancipation from GAZPROM, is Putin's biggest nightmare. By establishing the context for negotiations, this understanding is important because the agreement has serious opponents. Among them are my friends in the European Parliament with whom I brought about the defeat of the Anti-Countefeiting Trade Agreement on International Trade Committee, and, in consequence, in Parliament. They are rightly concerned about U.S. intelligence agencies spying on Europeans. The Union cannot agree to such procedures. It will therefore be necessary to find solutions within the agreement to guarantee the safety of our personal data.

 

 

Fortunately, thanks to negotiations conducted by the European Commission under the Lisbon Treaty, which are monitored not only by the Council but also by my committee in the European Parliament, this gives us a tool of influence and control that we've been using from the very beginning. If I am elected for the next term, I will be one of those who cannot commit to an agreement without clauses ensuring the protection of our data. For me it is important that the Snowden scandal act as an incentive to finding a solution, rather than as a pretext for killing the agreement.

 

Snowden - a puppet of Moscow

 

Today, from the perspective of Russiaís aggression against Ukraine, the purpose of the Snowden affair is clear. By revealing information that triggered European concern, Snowden was really a puppet in Putinís hands. Through his revelations he was to stir protests in Europe against TTIP comparable to those against the ACTA. In this way, the Kremlin wished to prevent the creation of a mechanism that would thwart its expansion. That goal has been achieved. Russia and China have similar systems for spying, but European dismay was directed exclusively against the United States. Now leadership from the principal figures in the United States and E.U. is needed to find the necessary compromise. That is why so much depends on today's summit, where these issues will be addressed. So much depends on good leadership in the next European Parliament, which will have an impact onnegotiated solutions and the vote for TTIP approval.

 

*Paweł Zalewski is a member of the European Parliament.

 

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Posted By Worldmeets.US Mar. 29, 2014, 2:19pm