The Prime Ministers of the Visegrad countries are deeply concerned about the recent violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and the fact that the Russian parliament has authorized military action on Ukrainian soil against the wishes of the Ukrainian Government. This represents a serious escalation. We condemn all action threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and call on to decrease the tensions immediately through dialogue, in full respect of Ukrainian and international law and in line with the provisions of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum.
The Visegrad countries believe that the recent military actions by Russia are not only in violation of international law, but also create a dangerous new reality in Europe. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia are appalled to witness a military intervention in 21st century Europe akin to their own experiences in 1956, 1968 and 1981.
The Prime Ministers of the Visegrad countries call on Russia to respect its international commitments and legal obligations, including the Budapest Memorandum. We have always recognized historical ties between Russia and Ukraine. Their specific character implies due respect to the legitimate rights of Russian minority population. Nevertheless, any related concerns must be addressed peacefully, through engagement with the government of Ukraine and under the auspices of relevant international organizations, especially that of the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe].
The Visegrad countries are in solidarity with the people and the Government of Ukraine and reiterate their strong commitment to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. It is more important than ever to ensure that the Government takes measures which unify the country, and that it protects the rights of all Ukraine’s citizens, including those of cultural, national and linguistic minority groups, in the spirit of inclusiveness.
The European Union and NATO should demonstrate solidarity with and assist Ukraine in this difficult moment and stand united in the face of this dangerous development threatening European peace and security.For more on the Visegrad Group, see my post of last May.
The most important energy supplier is Russia: It provides 38 percent of Germany's natural gas imports, 35 percent of all oil imports and 25 percent of coal imports, covering a quarter of the country's entire energy needs. There are no suitable alternatives in sight that could cover shortfalls of this magnitude.
Germany can supply only 15 percent of its gas needs using its own resources, the Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) says. Most of its gas is supplied by Norway and the Netherlands. Both countries could increase their short-term shipments via pipelines, but not in the long run, because experts believe North Sea gas reserves are slowly being used up.
Importing cooled, liquefied gas in tank ships from Algeria, Qatar or the US is an alternative - in theory. But US ports lack facilities to handle liquefied natural gas, and Germany does not have the corresponding unloading stations. In addition, it is very difficult to purchase large amounts at short notice on the global market. Supplies are already short because Japan has been importing large amounts of gas since the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
[Russian company] Gazprom and [German company] Wintershall also jointly own the 2,300-kilometer German pipeline network "Gascade." But Russia now controls Germany's gas storage - and with it, the safety margin of the German gas supply. The German economics ministry evidently has no worries about the deal.
German utilities company RWE is still waiting for the green light for the sale of its oil and gas exploitation subsidiary Dea. Wintershall and Dea are the only two German companies that have enough expertise to perform fracking. Last year Dea reported a profit of 521 million euros.
But due to a debt burden of 30 billion euros, RWE desperately needs new funding. Therefore the electric utility has welcomed the 5.1 billion euros that Luxembourg-based L1 Energy is willing to pay. L1 is owned by the second-richest Russian oligarch, Mikhail Fridman, who has close ties to the Kremlin and state-owned Rosneft.Meantime, economic woes have forced unilateral disarmament on Britain, whose defense establishment is so strapped that it cannot afford a single aircraft carrier. And our own enlightened administration proposes to do away with the A-10 Thunderbolt, aka 'Warthog', one of the most formidable close air-support, anti-tank weapons in our arsenal, one which was designed to counter Soviet tanks.