This is a blog for use in both of my HIS 241 and HIS 242 Russian history survey courses at Northern Virginia Community College.

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18 January 2009

Russia v. Ukraine

Playing out the rivalry on the natural gas front, another round in the dispute between Russia and Ukraine has turned particularly nasty this January and ended up affecting millions of people in Europe. In a nutshell, Ukraine owes Russia a lot of money for natural gas; Russia earns a lot of money selling natural gas in Europe; for Russia to make that money the gas that it is selling has to transit Ukraine through the Ukrainian pipeline system. Now there are historical and cultural factors complicating this dispute, and there is no doubt some hardball politics being played by Russian leaders to demonstrate to Ukraine that Ukraine does not belong in a relationship with NATO and Western Europe but that Ukraine rightly belongs in a relationship with Russia (back to the good old Soviet Union days). So, why not split the difference, Ukraine raised its transit fees; Russia lowers prices to Ukraine, and it all balances out