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Putin Stands by His Gas Company

The NYT reports on the European Union’s struggle to investigate Gazprom’s pricing and policies, and the Kremlin’s rebuttal:

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia issued a decree on Tuesday that had the effect of prohibiting Gazprom, the state natural gas giant, from cooperating with European Union investigators trying to build an antitrust case against it.

The decree prevents strategically important companies that do business overseas — a category that includes Gazprom — from providing information to foreign regulators without approval from the Kremlin. The decree says it applies to regulators from “unions of foreign states.”

Both sides have assets in a showdown: The EU needs Putin’s gas, and Putin needs the EU’s money.

While Gazprom and the EU are locked in this stranglehold, others will see an opportunity. Anybody else with gas to sell and ways to get it to Europe has an advantage here. Over and over again, Russia has shown that it is an unreliable energy source; expect more EU countries  to seek out ways to undermine Russia’s position as their key supplier.

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