tv Inside Story LINKTV August 24, 2021 5:30am-6:01am PDT
>> these are the top stories. joe biden is inspected to decide in the next one to four hours on whether to extend a deadline to withdraw u.s. and allied forces from afghanistan. the taliban says there will be consequences if the deadline is pushed back. the pentagon says it is determined to finalize its evacuation mission before the end of the month. he did not rule out extending the deadline if necessary. >> we are well aware of the
stated desire by the taliban to have this mission completed by the 31st of august. i would tell you that we too are still planning on completing it by the 31st of august. that is the mission assigned to us by the commander-in-chief and we are trying to execute it. >> the airport remains chaotic. there are reportedly 14,000 people waiting with at least 10,000 more outside hoping to get in. security is also a concern. taliban fighters have reached the outskirts of the last and only region in afghanistan not under the armed group's control. opposition leader's have created a resisting group in recent weeks but on monday, the taliban retook three districts that have been seized by opposition forces. the u.s. medicine's regular has fully provided a covax into to
those aged 16 and older. following the approval, the pentagon has made jobs composer -- compulsory for all of the members. a powerful earthquake that hit haiti earlier this month is further hampering the covid vaccine rollout. only around 20,000 jabs have been given out. there are fears that hospitals are already overwhelmed with victims. those are the headlines, stay for inside story. we are back at the top of the hour.
quest the german chancellor has warned russia not to use a new pipeline as a potential weapon. nord stream 2 is near completion. it will bring more gas from russia to germany but will this give muska too much pressure over europe and its future. this is inside story. welcome to the program. the politics of energy are back under the spotlight in europe. a new national -- natural gas pipeline is nearly complete. the nord stream 2 pipeline avoid ukraine. that is where a large portion of russian natural gas passes through before making its way to europe. this means the ukrainian government could lose a huge portion of the earnings in
transit fees. the uss further alliance for russia on europe's energy could be risky. there will be rules to protect ukraine security. >> we have made it clear that we will seek further sanctions within the european framework if the suspicion that the pipeline is being used as a weapon is confirmed. we have made it clear that we will be the special envoy and are starting negotiations about the possibility of extending the contract so that ukraine can have security on this level as well. >> i still believe this is a weapon and i believe it is impossible to ignore that this is a threat not only for ukraine but also for europe. i don't think it is possible to ignore that it is a weapon. ukraine not talk about nordstrom to from the economic point of view. you can see how these are
rising. >> we are willing to continue transiting gas through ukraine even after 2024 but we must understand in what timeframe and quantities. we must receive an answer from our european partners. how long are they willing to continue buying from us? we cannot sign a transit contract if we don't have a contract to deliver to our customers in europe, taking in mind an agreement that has already been utilized in europe. we are asking ourselves if our gas will even be bought. >> let's take a closer look at this project. the nordstrom to pipeline -- nordstrom -- nord stream 2 pipeline allows pressure to avoid ukraine. the new pipeline is inspected to transport 55 million -- 55 billion cubic meters of gas.
that is why there are growing fears that the new pipeline could increase the eu's dependence on russia. let's bring in our guest now in moscow. this is a russian foreign policy analyst. in sydney, bridge combat, we have michael, an author and global affairs analyst. he is the former spokesman for the organization in europe. and a senior fellow at the international institute for strategic studies. good to have you all with us. if i could start with you, ukraine is for its security on the basis that this gas pipeline will tighten moscow's grip over the region's energy supply and strengthen its influence.
are those fears well-founded? >> yes. i think those fears are well-founded because moscow has a long tradition of using energy and get supplies as a geopolitical tool. we have seen the same in previous decades concerning ukraine but not only ukraine, most of central european or eastern european countries have faced russian policies. regarding the energy supply. this is a matter of geopolitics. and including the european union. brussels also considers the new pipeline -- this is a political tool in the hands of russia. basically germany's official position is that these political
pressures -- most of the countries, including those that are in the neighborhood and in poland, even france. usually france is not very aggressively anti-russian. regarding this particular project, they think that this will increase the geopolitical role in the european continent. i'm not talking about the u.s.. maybe we will come to that later when we discuss the american position on this issue. >> we will get to that at some point. michael, is europe risking becoming too dependent on russian gas? >> absolutely. the outlines of this agreement is very vague. what does actually constitute an energy weapon? if russia does abruptly raise
gas prices to europe or constrict supply, does that constitute using the pipeline as an energy weapon? ukraine is very right to feel threatened and vulnerable because there is no real consensus on how these sanctions can be triggered. i think it is incumbent upon people like chancellor merkel before she leaves to tightness agreement up. russia has a long record in terms of probing weaknesses, in terms of finding out how it can leverage its geopolitical vendors, it's energy to harm others. it does not look good on all sides. i think ukraine feels very vulnerable and alone right now because it feels it does not
have strong backing from europe any longer. >> a lot of fears being stressed here by this perceived overdependence on russian energy and russia using that as a weapon. >> russia is very dependent on russian national gas. north stream two is flexing his muscles. they cut the supply -- the physical supply of gas. there is tracking gas from underground reservoirs in europe. in informal terms, russia is
complying with its contracts. but in real terms, that means summer is ending, winter is coming and the european gas they are using as a buffer during the cold winter -- it won't be possible to fill them up before winter comes. as a result, it has skyrocketed almost to the levels of east asia. europe -- most of it is growing. the station where the -- where there is ease station premium on price. russia is flexing its muscles.
this has just over a third of supplies. russia will have more flexibility in doing that. >> what is at stake for the united states and their position on all of this? >> the united states were very critical about this project from the very beginning. even if the position of the previous american president was not always consistent, he was criticizing the project but at the same time, he tried to veto the congress resolution to augment pressure on the project. the americans were against the nordstrom -- nord stream 2.
for president trump it was illogical to -- for germany and europeans to claim at the same time that russia was threatening them militarily, politically and at the same time, providing money for the gas which we know is a main resource provider for the russian budget. that may be this specific case of president trump but it was also to help american companies that are exporting liquefied gas . things have changed. we saw the meetings between president biden and chancellor merkel and later meeting with
joe biden and vladimir putin in geneva. the americans decided to waive most of their sanctions. the americans justified this change by the fact that the united states wants better relations with europeans and a major player in europe is germany. at the same time, they tried to manage and to explain this decision, saying that together, germany and the united states will establish sanctions if russia uses nord stream as a political tool. my colleague in canada said this is something very difficult to
assess because of course russia is a champion of hybrid measures. who will determine when the political aspect intervenes in this issue? unless russia invites directly with their tanks and military forces, there could always be a debate about whether it is political, geopolitical or not. this is something that does not really give the credit to them when they claim that russia will pay the price if they use it. >> let's get drum pals back into some of that. what is at stake here for russia beyond the economic benefits? >> it should be understood that nord stream 2 is only one pipeline in an gas in a network
of pipelines. nord stream 1 was a pipeline in operation for a long time. this is an entire network. russia invested a lot of money. not only in the pipelines themselves underwater but the infrastructure to bring the gas from siberia to the black sea, the baltic sea and send it through europe from the north to the south. this is a massive investment. because of sanctions, they were not. this investment on paper will never be returned because it
will be gas from gas inside. as a result, they are paying very low fees to say this is a much weirder economy. this is a combination of political and commercial interests. that often happens in today's russia. russia has both. it wants to be in some control of the european market or at least pricing there and supplies. of course, what was promised to the european market. the pipelines are tied to europe. russia is tied to europe. from moscow, that is not that bad because there is this whole
idea that russia should build bridges like europe and try to push the americans out. establish a germany -- a partnership with germany and other european countries. there is the problem of ukraine which now finds itself in a position where moscow can continue to supply gas to europe to fulfill its contract obligations but not sending much or at all to the ukraine. >> sure. let's talk about ukraine's options. michael, if the ukraine continues to feel that the united states not looking out for them on this issue, does that risk them drawing closer to
china? >> absently. i think the feeling in ukraine is that has been thrown under the bus. the biden administration has very few foreign policy wins and it has chosen to improve relations with germany. it has chosen to do some kind of reset with relations with russia and in return, ukraine feels very vulnerable. it does not have very options -- very many options but one of them is improving relations with china. president zelensky had his first conversation with xi jinping over the telephone and it was a very good call from both sides. president zelensky said ukraine has no better friend than china right now. i think this was done in part two put pressure on washington to look at relations with ukraine. the other thing i had to say is
that with the debacle in kabul and the united states not seeing as a credible partner to guarantee security, a lot of these countries are reevaluating those security guarantees and looking for other partnerships. ukraine might even be looking more to the gulf countries to see what kind of new ties can be formed there. if i could say one other thing and this goes to the technicalities of the pipelines. the other problem ukraine has and is not talked about very much is with this realignment of gas transit, gas pressure in ukraine has the potential to fall very much. what that means practically during the wintertime's outlying villages may not get the required gas it needs because it has the potential to upset the whole infrastructure there.
a lot of different vulnerabilities that ukraine feels right now. we should not be surprised that it is looking elsewhere for better partnerships. >> what is your view on that? this idea that america's credit ability has taken a real hit in recent days? michael mentioned afghanistan and the position with this now. with that force european partners to look elsewhere to shore up their own alliances? >> yes, unfortunately, the u.s. role and even credibility is suffering already for several years. it started a few weeks earlier, we also remember the first attempt between the american administration, the obama administration and put in's
russia. there were numerous attempts at normalization between the u.s. and russia, always coming from this. remember this disastrous experience in syria where americans abandoned their own redlines and allowed russia to intervene on the side. -- on the side of the president. many eastern europeans are especially very vulnerable because of their geographical proximity to russia. to come back to the options that ukraine has, there is another option which is improving and getting closer relations with turkey.
this is around the black sea, including the military field. don't forget that turkey was quite critical of the crimea annexation by russia because crimea's population is primarily turkish speaking. somehow, ukraine try to negotiate better options about nato membership in terms of -- with germany. germany and france were the main countries blocking succession. the you can't -- the ukrainians tried to negotiate this issue
with nato but anna see any serious changes -- i don't see any serious changes in this issue. they increasingly understand that they have to rely on their own resources and to be seeing partners everywhere. and also be -- to be pro relations between the eastern european countries, poland, the baltic states. >> i want to ask you about another announcement made in these meetings. that was angela merkel promising to provide more than a billion dollars to help expand ukraine's for noble energy sector. how much might that soften the blow for ukraine if it was to lose those transit fees from russia in three years time? >> to some extent, yes but there
is also other problems. not just simply money. there is not just the fees, there is the gas that goes through ukraine. basically also ukraine buys part of that gas back illegally speaking. it buys it from poland or slovakia. it is taken from the pipe as it goes through ukraine. the pipe is not functioning, the gas is not coming, where will ukraine get the gas? there are technicalities their that could have a very disastrous -- disastrous effect. the entire system may begin to fall and that would be catastrophic. there are so many problems there. just a billion dollars to improve green energy, it is good
but it won't solve those problems i am afraid. >> i want to put what will probably be the final question to michael. how do you see this playing out? angela merkel has said they could apply more sanctions on russia if it does not play ball. but russia has already been sanctioned almost to the limit already. how much more firepower do they have? >> exactly. how much more pain can you inflict on russia? i think the only thing the west really has is the nuclear option. that is to temporarily remove pressure from the international financial system, the payment system. that would get them where it hurts. i can tell you that just coming from the region, putin is making very threatening signals. he did a long tone deaf speech recently looming that ukraine's
and russians are all the same people. for me, this is code for we have more ambitions for ukraine. get ready for more aggression. don't forget that they lead -- they left a lot of military manpower nearby. plenty of reason for ukraine to feel very vulnerable right now. >> we have to leave it there. thank you to all three of you. thank you. thank you for watching. you can see this program any time by visiting our website and for further discussion, go to our facebook page, facebook.com/ a.j. inside story. thank you.
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