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Thread: Russia, politics and power: internal & external(new title)

  1. #61
    Council Member bismark17's Avatar
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    Sigh.....I guess the blackhats will again be singing that old cadence, "Hey Mother Russia, you better behave or we will fill your skies with maroon berets...."

  2. #62
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    Nationalism of Putin’s Era Veils Sins of Stalin’s

    The Kremlin in the Putin era has often sought to maintain as much sway over the portrayal of history as over the governing of the country. In seeking to restore Russia’s standing, Mr. Putin and other officials have stoked a nationalism that glorifies Soviet triumphs while playing down or even whitewashing the system’s horrors.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/27/wo...chives.html?hp

  3. #63
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    RAD, 18 Nov 08: Social Movements and the State in Russia
    Analysis
    Russia’s “Nashi” Youth Movement: The Rise and Fall of a Putin-Era Political Technology Project

    Opinion Poll
    “Nashi” and Patriotism
    Participation of Young People in Politics
    The Sixteen-Year-Olds of Today

    Analysis
    The Web That Failed: How the Russian State Co-opted a Growing Internet Opposition Movement

  4. #64
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default :eek:

    From today's NYT

    There have been some recent successes, but they are short-lived. On Nov. 11, the volume of spam, which transports the malware, dropped by half around the globe after an Internet service provider disconnected the McColo Corporation, an American firm with Russian ties, from the Internet. But the respite is not expected to last long as cybercriminals regain control of their spam-generating computers.

    “Modern worms are stealthier and they are professionally written,” said Bruce Schneier, chief security technology officer for British Telecom. “The criminals have gone upmarket, and they’re organized and international because there is real money to be made.”
    Sapere Aude

  5. #65
    Council Member Beelzebubalicious's Avatar
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    Ironically, I think the biggest hindrance to the spread of spam and viruses is the poor quality of the English in these messages. I routinely get clever and well designed spam with some horrible English errors.

  6. #66
    Council Member Beelzebubalicious's Avatar
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    Default Gazprom’s Destabilization Plan for Ukraine and Southeast Europe

    This report from the Eurasia Daily Monitor of the Jamestown Foundation was pretty interesting. It's titled:

    Gazprom’s Destabilization Plan for Ukraine and Southeast Europe

    The USG is putting more attention and resources into the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, but I don't know how they can counter the Russians. In the story is a link to another story about riots in Bulgaria. Ukraine may well be next...

  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beelzebubalicious View Post
    This report from the Eurasia Daily Monitor of the Jamestown Foundation was pretty interesting. It's titled:

    Gazprom’s Destabilization Plan for Ukraine and Southeast Europe

    The USG is putting more attention and resources into the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, but I don't know how they can counter the Russians. In the story is a link to another story about riots in Bulgaria. Ukraine may well be next...
    Maybe we should leave it to the Europeans to counter the Russians, since they are so critical of our foreign policy. We should at least counter them in the Western Hemisphere first. And on that topic, we have other things to worry about closer to home.

    On the other hand, a closer relationship with Turkey could be an asset.

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    EastWeek, 14 Jan 09: Escalation of the Russian-Ukrainian gas conflict
    ....Russia appeared to be acting in a deliberately provocative manner, with an ad hoc objective of further discrediting Ukraine and undermining the international credibility of both the country and its authorities. By escalating the conflict, Moscow is aiming to ultimately take control over Ukraine's strategically important transit gas pipelines, destabilise the internal situation in the country, and perhaps provoke a change of government in Kyiv. Russia also wants a greater EU involvement in the conflict, so that it can try to manipulate Brussels into helping it to impose Moscow's conditions on Ukraine. Russia also aims to boost EU support for the projects to build gas pipelines bypassing Ukrainian territory. Moscow's tough and decisive behaviour suggests that the Russian leadership is determined to achieve its goals, irrespective of the political or economic costs including the negative impact this will have on Russia's relations with the West......
    CH, The World Today: Ukraine, Russia and Energy: Final Warning
    Twice within the past five months, the inevitable has provoked surprise. When Russia’s Gazprom halted its daily delivery of ninety million cubic meters of gas to Ukraine on January 1, Europe’s political leaders were marginally less astounded than they were by the outbreak of conflict in Georgia in early August. But as in August, the dynamic of escalation has caught them completely off guard. Keeping control of a European energy policy requires a much smarter game......
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 01-17-2009 at 02:24 PM.

  9. #69
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Deal?

    From today’s BBC

    At his news conference with Mrs Tymoshenko, Mr Putin said that discounts for both Russian gas supplied to Ukraine and the transit rate charged by Kiev would apply for the current year.

    "We agreed that in 2009 our Ukrainian partners will have a discount of 20% on condition that the preferential tariff for piping Russian gas to European consumers through Ukraine in 2009 remains in force and that the price for piping will be the price of 2008," he said.

    "We also agreed that from 1 January 2010 we will entirely move to price and tariff formation fully in accordance with European standards without any exemptions or discounts as regards both the transit and the price of gas."

    European-level prices for gas supplies will mean, at current rates, a jump from $179.5 per 1,000 cubic metres to $380 for Ukraine, according to the Kremlin.
    BBC Map of Russia’s Gas Lines to Europe

    Gazprom backgrounder by wikipedia

    Total gas production in Russia in 2007 was 23.1 Trillion cubic feet, of which 85 percent (19.4 Tcf) was produced by Gazprom;[3] with reserves of 28,800 cubic kilometres (181,000 Gbbl), it controls 16 percent of the world's gas reserves (as of 2004,[4] including the Shtokman field). After acquisition of the oil company Sibneft, Gazprom, with 119 billion barrels (18.9 km3) of reserves, ranks behind only Saudi Arabia, with 263 billion barrels (41.8 km3), and Iran, with 133 billion barrels (21.1 km3), as the world's biggest owner of oil and oil equivalent in natural gas.[5]

    By the end of 2004 Gazprom was the sole gas supplier to at least Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Finland, Republic of Macedonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova and Slovakia, and provided 97 percent of Bulgaria's gas, 89 percent of Hungary's, 86 percent of Poland's, nearly three-quarters of the Czech Republic's, 67 percent of Turkey's, 65 percent of Austria's, about 40 percent of Romania's, 36 percent of Germany's, 27 percent of Italy's, and 25 percent of France's.[6][7] The European Union as a whole gets about 25 percent of its gas supplies from this company.[8][9]

    Apart from its gas reserves and the world's longest pipeline network (150,000 km), it also controls assets in banking, insurance, media, construction and agriculture.
    Naftohaz backgrounder by wikipedia

    NJSC Naftohaz Ukrainy or Naftogaz of Ukraine or Naftogas of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Нафтогаз України, literally: Oil&Gas of Ukraine) is the state company[1] of Ukraine concerned with extraction, transportation, and refinement of natural gas and crude oil.

    In 2005 the company became embroiled in a dispute over the natural gas prices with Russian state company Gazprom, which was ended on 4 January 2006. In January 2009 the company was the center of a similar conflict.[1]
    On October 24, 2008, Gazprom and Naftogaz signed a long-term cooperation deal in which it was decided that Ukraine will receive Russian natural gas directly from Gazprom and Naftogaz will be the sole importer of Russian natural gas.[2].

    The company has been accused by Gazprom of "stealing gas" earmarked for Europe.[3]
    E.On Ruhrgas backgrounder by wikipedia

    E.ON AG (FWB: EOAN), an energy corporation based in Düsseldorf, Germany, is one of the 30 members of the DAX stock index of major German companies and a member of the "Global Titans 50" index. Its chief executive officer (Vorstandsvorsitzender) is Dr. Wulf H. Bernotat. The name comes from the Greek word aeon.[2]
    Russia Energy Backgrounder by EIA

    In 2007, Russia’s real gross domestic product (GDP) grew by approximately 8.1 percent, surpassing average growth rates in all other G8 countries, and marking the country’s seventh consecutive year of economic expansion. Russia’s economic growth over the past seven years has been driven primarily by energy exports, given the increase in Russian oil production and relatively high world oil prices during the period. Internally, Russia gets over half of its domestic energy needs from natural gas, up from around 49 percent in 1992. Since then, the share of energy use from coal and nuclear has stayed constant, while energy use from oil has decreased from 27 percent to around 19 percent.
    Germany Energy Backgrounder by EIA

    Owning to its large economy, Germany is one of the world’s largest energy consumers. In 2004, the country consumed 14.7 quadrillion British Thermal Units (Btu) of total energy, the fifth-largest amount in the world. Besides coal, Germany does not possess any sizable hydrocarbon reserves, so the country must rely upon imports to meet the majority of its energy needs. The lack of domestic hydrocarbon resources has led Germany to become a world leader in the development of renewable energy technologies, with the country becoming the world’s largest producer of biodiesel and generator of electricity from wind.
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 01-18-2009 at 06:03 PM.
    Sapere Aude

  10. #70
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Ukraine & the IMF

    From the IMF

    A $16.4 billion loan for Ukraine, approved by the IMF's Executive Board on November 5, will help the government strengthen confidence and restore economic stability after the country became the latest victim of the financial crisis sweeping the global economy.

    Until the financial crisis hit the world economy in mid-2008, Ukraine was riding on the coattails of a global economy that had an insatiable demand for steel—a commodity that constitutes 40 percent of the country's exports, earning $17 billion a year in revenues. The government passed on the gains from high economic and steel exports growth to the population through generous incomes policies.

    Together with rising capital inflows, this fueled an unprecedented consumption boom—and a rising current account deficit. By 2008, the economy had overheated, with inflation running at 25-30 percent, wages being hiked by 30-40 percent, and the import bill growing by 50-60 percent.
    Sapere Aude

  11. #71
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Strange. Why should one need to "counter" the Russians?
    Cooperation should still be in the repertoire of foreign policy.

    The Russians/Gazprom do now EXACTLY what a rational economist in charge would do:
    1) Don't give your goods away to someone who didn't buy them.
    2) Don't sell your goods at a tiny fraction of their worth.

    The Eastern European non-NATO nations got natural gas for a half or less of the price charged on the Western Europeans. The Ukraine did not negotiate a new contract that satisfied the Russians in time, so they didn't get any deliveries any more. It needs no evil plan for this; rational economic behavior is enough explanation.

    It's understandable that Russia subsidizes close friends like Belarus, but there's no reason for subsidizing Ukraine, a nation that has a Russian minority that's a regional majority in some places and doesn't want to talk about this.

    The(first) article is about a small great power game; such things happen all the time in our world and our governments aren't exactly role models for fairness either.

    By the way; the U.S.Americans and the British have in my opinion still no right to criticize Russia for its comparably civil great power games. Great powers who waged a war of aggression should better wait for a decade or two till they criticize others' great power games.
    The Russians pursue their interests with great rationality and demonstrated the ability to limit their aims to what's easily achievable. That's a great situation for cooperation. Most of their national interests are justifiable - security against invasion in general and advance of a nearby foreign alliance, for example.
    Putin knows about the limits of Russia's abilities (unlike the USA and UK) and this limits the problems that he creates.

    We can fall back to containment strategies once Russia recovered as state, society and military from the downfall of the 90's and the sins of the 70's.

  12. #72
    Council Member Beelzebubalicious's Avatar
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    Good post, Fuchs. There is certainly rationality to the way the Russians behave, but we make great mistakes by assuming it means the same thing here (or that we can act on it in the same way we do in the US). There is always a bit of the Matrioshka (doll within a doll within a doll) going on and so what interests do you play to?

    As you allude to, I also think the Russians understand the power games and how the West plays them better than the West understand how Russia plays. For example, the USG was playing the missile defense shield power game and Russia was countering that with some bluster, but meanwhile, there was all kinds of other backroom subterfuge going on.

    What we don't see is the bribery/influence/corruption, especially within high levels of government in places like Ukraine. Europe is now throwing a lot of money into Ukraine with perhaps the same effect (buying allegiance, gaining leverage). What interests me is how far each side will go and what boundaries or lines they'll draw in these power games.

  13. #73
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Is this a good or a bad example of cooperation?

    Mutually beneficent cooperation is an important goal. What do you see the German census to be? From a pure engineering standpoint this is a cool project, but things are rarely that simple…

    Nordstream backgrounder by wikipedia

    Nord Stream (Russian: Северный поток Severnyy potok, German: Nordeuropäische Gasleitung, Polish: Gazociąg Północny; former names: North Transgas and North European Gas Pipeline; also known as the Russo–German gas pipeline or the Baltic Sea gas pipeline) is a planned natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany by the company Nord Stream AG. The name of Nord Stream refers usually to the offshore pipeline between Vyborg, Russia, and Greifswald, Germany, but sometimes it may have wider meaning, which includes the onshore pipeline in Russia and further connections in Western Europe.

    The project, which is promoted by Russia and Germany, is seen as controversial both for environmental concerns and national security risks in some countries such as Poland and the Baltic states, which favour overland pipelines across their countries' territories.
    Nordstream Company Website

    Nord Stream will transport up to 55 billion cubic metres of gas each year. This is enough to supply more than 25 million households.
    Nord Stream is more than just a pipeline. It is a new channel for Russian natural gas exports, and a major infrastructure project which sets a new benchmark in EU-Russia cooperation.
    Gerhard Schroder backgrounder by wikipedia

    Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder (help·info) IPA: [ˌɡeɐ̯haɐ̯t fʁɪʦ kʊɐ̯t ˈʃʁøːdɐ] (7 April 1944) is a German politician, and was Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), he led a coalition government of the SPD and the Greens. Before becoming a full-time politician, he was a lawyer, and before becoming Chancellor he was Minister-president of the German state of Lower Saxony. Following the 2005 federal election, which his party lost, after three weeks of negotiations he stood down as Chancellor in favour of Angela Merkel of the rival Christian Democratic Union.

    Spiegel on cold war legacies of mistrust

    Die schwedische Regierung rügt das deutsch-russische Unternehmen Nord Stream und könnte somit für Verzögerungen des geplanten Ostseepipeline-Projekts sorgen. Nord-Stream-Chairman Gerhard Schröder ist nicht amüsiert: Denn hinter den Umweltauflagen verbergen sich weit tiefere Ängste der Skandinavier.
    My translation…

    “The Swedish Government has criticized the planned Baltic sea pipeline Nord Stream, a German-Russian undertaking, and can provide reasons why. Nord Stream’s Chairman Gerhard Schroder is not amused: Behind the environmental concerns are deeply buried Scandinavian fears. “
    Dilligner Hutte company website. Pipeline material
    Sapere Aude

  14. #74
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question Excellents point's Fuch's

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Strange. Why should one need to "counter" the Russians?
    Cooperation should still be in the repertoire of foreign policy.

    The Russians/Gazprom do now EXACTLY what a rational economist in charge would do:
    1) Don't give your goods away to someone who didn't buy them.
    2) Don't sell your goods at a tiny fraction of their worth.
    Why indeed? Supply and demand right. And of course it's not unreasonable to expect them to work towards their own interests.



    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    The Eastern European non-NATO nations got natural gas for a half or less of the price charged on the Western Europeans. The Ukraine did not negotiate a new contract that satisfied the Russians in time, so they didn't get any deliveries any more. It needs no evil plan for this; rational economic behavior is enough explanation..
    True enough on the first part, not quite so sure about the latter

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    It's understandable that Russia subsidizes close friends like Belarus, but there's no reason for subsidizing Ukraine, a nation that has a Russian minority that's a regional majority in some places and doesn't want to talk about this.

    The(first) article is about a small great power game; such things happen all the time in our world and our governments aren't exactly role models for fairness either..
    While supporting your friends while sticking it to those who aren't may very well fall in the categories of both rational and well within the realm of "normal" governmental behaviours; still not certain that the particular means in this case match any rational expectations for ends in that it seems to presume that an awful lot of folks are gonna go along with it simply because they have no other choice.

    If one considers Surferbeetle's posts above:

    OK, Russia has product and the ability to demand an "acceptable" payment for it. They are concerned that should certain countries through which said product would have to flow have disagreement with errr their particular mode of barter or some actions then said supply might be interrupted thereby by costing them more than they might want to pay, both in loss of monetary income as well as any larger actions which might be required in order to get the product flowing again.

    So thus the game begins, what to do what to do????
    OH If we get an alternate line through a country with whom we believe we can ensure continuous flow regardless what we choose to do elsewhere than it frees us to use both but helps minimize any sort of possible burden should the on land routes go down for any reason.

    Here's the gist of my question to you. This may make great sense to Russia, Germany but exactly why in the world would anyone else there in the region who looks to suffer so great a risk from such things(It's not exactly like Russia has tried hiding their intent) choose to rationally accept or help facilitate such a thing. And in such case exactly how rational is it to think that theres not going to be a ton of issues in doing it.

    All part of the game right.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    By the way; the U.S.Americans and the British have in my opinion still no right to criticize Russia for its comparably civil great power games. Great powers who waged a war of aggression should better wait for a decade or two till they criticize others' great power games.
    The Russians pursue their interests with great rationality and demonstrated the ability to limit their aims to what's easily achievable. That's a great situation for cooperation. Most of their national interests are justifiable - security against invasion in general and advance of a nearby foreign alliance, for example.
    Putin knows about the limits of Russia's abilities (unlike the USA and UK) and this limits the problems that he creates.

    We can fall back to containment strategies once Russia recovered as state, society and military from the downfall of the 90's and the sins of the 70's.
    While much of what you state carrys truth, it might be important to note that we at least try to learn from our mistakes rather than simply trying to find different ways to pull off the same ol tricks.
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

  15. #75
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Thumbs up True.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Strange. Why should one need to "counter" the Russians? Cooperation should still be in the repertoire of foreign policy.

    By the way; the U.S.Americans and the British have in my opinion still no right to criticize Russia for its comparably civil great power games...The Russians pursue their interests with great rationality and demonstrated the ability to limit their aims to what's easily achievable.

    We can fall back to containment strategies once Russia recovered as state, society and military from the downfall of the 90's and the sins of the 70's.
    Good points all.

  16. #76
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default We do??? Why

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    ...it might be important to note that we at least try to learn from our mistakes rather than simply trying to find different ways to pull off the same ol tricks.
    wasn't I informed???

  17. #77
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Hey Eric !

    Quote Originally Posted by Beelzebubalicious View Post
    What we don't see is the bribery/influence/corruption, especially within high levels of government in places like Ukraine. Europe is now throwing a lot of money into Ukraine with perhaps the same effect (buying allegiance, gaining leverage). What interests me is how far each side will go and what boundaries or lines they'll draw in these power games.
    Yep, a shame we are a decade later stuck trying to convince people what is mistakenly concluded as "fair trade" Some folks need and deserve a tour of reality I reckon. Just how many of those gas transactions were actually real transactions while Russia feeds her own elite?

    The EU was already prepared to pay the aggregate price paid by most European countries (less than $300). That price would put the 3 Fat Pigs (well, one of them) in dire straights and have Gerhard wishing he never heard the name Nordstream.

    BTW, I'm not altogether sure why "US Americans" (as apposed to those other Americans) has Delta to do with Russian gas and those pesky Ukrainians that give Putin nightmares

    Time for a shower and beer !
    If you want to blend in, take the bus

  18. #78
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Cool The operative term is

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    wasn't I informed???
    Try

    Whether or when we succeed may be when someone lets you know
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

  19. #79
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Returning to

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    Try

    Whether or when we succeed may be when someone lets you know
    listening watch.

  20. #80
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
    Quote:
    Die schwedische Regierung rügt das deutsch-russische Unternehmen Nord Stream und könnte somit für Verzögerungen des geplanten Ostseepipeline-Projekts sorgen. Nord-Stream-Chairman Gerhard Schröder ist nicht amüsiert: Denn hinter den Umweltauflagen verbergen sich weit tiefere Ängste der Skandinavier.
    My translation…

    “The Swedish Government has criticized the planned Baltic sea pipeline Nord Stream, a German-Russian undertaking, and can provide reasons why. Nord Stream’s Chairman Gerhard Schroder is not amused: Behind the environmental concerns are deeply buried Scandinavian fears. “
    "The Swedish government admonished the German-Russian enterprise Nord-Stream and could cause delays in the planned Baltic Sea pipeline project by doing so. Nord-Stream-Chairman Gerhard Schröder is not amused: The reason is that deeply buried fears of the Skandinavians are behind the environmental regulations."


    ---------------


    First of all; the issue was solved with a ten-year treaty and shouldn't resurface unless one of the involved states break the treaty or enters a war.
    That would be problems in their own right and wouldn't be pipeline-specific.

    It's imho a waste of time to think about alternative routes for pipelines; new pipelines in Eastern Europe don't solve the other problem; the Europeans want to buy relatively cheap Russian gas (and the Russians want to sell it), but they want to diversify as well.

    One approach is to increase the import of Algerian natural gas - with LNG technology. That means very short additional pipelines to specialized LNG terminals in some harbors. Projects for Wilhelmshafen and Rotterdam were or are in work.

    Another approach is to decrease natural gas consumption - a typical European approach to energy supply problems since the 70's.

    Natural gas has near-perfect substitutes in all its uses. Mankind does not need natural gas - it can do the same things with coal products.

    * Natural gas replaced coal gas in the 70's for heating/cooking in residential areas (in Berlin and Eastern Europe only in the 90's).
    * Natural gas powerplants are quick reaction peak supply tools, but not necessary for the base supply. Improved coal and even nuclear powerplant technologies can replace it in that role (and a special type of water power, but not on large scale).
    * Natural gas is also in use in steel production. Alternative technologies use electricity and/or coke as far as I know.
    * Natural gas-driven vehicles: No need for such a thing, it's a stupid idea anyway.

    -----

    The real challenge is to find issues where we can cooperate with Russia and turn them (and us) away from a "us vs. them" line of thinking. Let them worry about China, not us. Our politicians should not just have meetings with Putin & his clique, but also reach out to the Russian people.
    There are opportunities - we would just need to use them.


    It's so much cheaper and more pleasant to solve the situation the smart way with diplomacy and cooperation instead of a easy&primitive fall back to the wasteful Cold War.
    At least some people should have understood by now that the Western World isn't in great shape, has huge society, state & fiscal challenges now and ahead - and that we could ill afford such a wasteful path as another Cold War.

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