Importing Russian Gas

Today’s post is a graphic from the New York Times that looks at Russia’s hold on energy across Europe. I’m not terribly keen on this particular graphic for a few reasons. First, the design needs to incorporate the actual datapoint so the reader can compare across countries. Comparing the height of each black bar to each other is difficult at best.

Secondly, the data excludes the energy trade between European Union countries. And that strikes me as potentially quite a lot. Just because a country is importing from another EU country does not mean it is importing less.

Russian gas market in the EU
Russian gas market in the EU

Credit for the piece goes to the New York Times graphics department.

Cancelling the Mistral

In a piece of big news about Ukraine yesterday, the French government announced that it was halting the completion of the sale of two Mistral warships to Russia. The first such ship, the Sevastopol (yes, named after said city in Crimea), was due to be delivered in just over a month’s time. The two ships (the other named Vladivostok) would have given Russia the ability to launch amphibious invasions. The reason why this action was not taken earlier? Jobs. The construction of the two ships in French shipyards are a boon to the French economy. But after the recent “incursion” of Russian troops into Donetsk and Luhansk, Paris ultimately reconsidered the deal.

The Wall Street journal provides the graphic illustrating just how potent one of the ships would be.

Mistral design
Mistral design

Credit for the piece goes to the Wall Street Journal graphics department.

Where the Rebels are in Eastern Ukraine

Today’s piece is far from ground-breaking or even complex. Friday, the Wall Street Journal published this map to supplement an article about the unilateral ceasefire declared by President Poroshenko in Ukraine. The map highlights the areas effectively controlled by the rebels, the most important the unsecured border. Of course this is just a map as stated by Kiev, the reality on the ground might be different. Regardless, it is the first map I have seen that has actually tried to demarcate the territory actually under control rather than claimed.

Rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine
Rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine

Credit for the piece goes to the Wall Street Journal’s graphics department.

Answering Some More Questions About Ukraine

So Ukraine is even more of a mess and in less than a week’s time, the Crimean people will vote in a referendum on whether they want to remain a part of Ukraine or rejoin Russia. This graphic of mine is an attempt to answer some questions—though hardly all I wanted—about Ukraine, Crimea, and about what the Russians have been doing. (To be fair, the Russians still don’t admit that the troops and soldiers are theirs. But really, I mean come on, we all know they are.)

Why Crimea?
Why Crimea?

Economically Isolating Russia

The West hesitates to use military force to push Russian troops out of Crimea. Likely with good reason as any such campaign would be neither cheap nor bloodless in addition to running the risk of spreading beyond the borders of Ukraine. So that leaves diplomatic and economic isolation. Diplomatic isolation is already underway—the G8 conference to be hosted in Sochi this summer is all but dead. But economic isolation is still being discussed.

Isolating Russia
Isolating Russia

The United States is generally in favour, but Europe—namely Germany—has been more cautious. But as my graphic shows, without Europe a sanctions regime would be largely toothless since half of Russia’s exports go to Europe. Except that Russia is also responsible for a significant proportion of Europe’s imported natural gas and sanctions on Russia could cause an interruption in that fuel to Western Europe. Naturally, most of that natural gas is, of course, transported through pipelines running across Ukraine.