Energy rich countries are throwing their weight around the world now. Russia is putting the backside of Belarus (and that of Germany, Poland and other Eastern Europe) to fire; Venezuela is nationalizing the telecom, utilities and stripping the autonomy of the central bank of Venezuela!
Russia on Monday shut off crude oil supplies that flow by pipeline across Belarus to Germany, Poland and other parts of Eastern Europe, charging that Belarus was illegally siphoning off oil meant for the other countries.
The dispute between two erstwhile allies will have little immediate effect because the end-customer countries have strategic reserves for at least two months. But it is rekindling discussion in Europe about the reliability of Russia as a supplier of energy.
“This shows us once again that arguments among various countries of the former Soviet Union, between suppliers and transit countries, mean that these deliveries are unreliable from our perspective,” Poland’s deputy economy minister, Piotr Naimski, said in a television interview. Poland has long been suspicious of Russia’s dominance of energy supplies on the Continent.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez accelerated his socialist revolution on Monday by seeking increased powers from Congress, nationalizing utilities and telecommunications companies and promising to strip the central bank of its autonomy.
The anti-U.S. leader, who was re-elected by a landslide last month, launched his bold new policy drive in a fiery speech likely to stir up opposition charges that he is seeking a centralized, Cuban-style system.