Ultima Thule notes and analyzes the Russian cutoff of natural gas supplies to Ukraine just as the European winter reaches its coldest point. Aussiegirl writes:
By baldly carrying out threats to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine and Western Europe, Putin has cast himself in the role of irresponsible international bully and self—proclaimed capricious Energy Czar. What is not mentioned often enough in articles covering this story, is that Russia and Ukraine signed a contract in August of 2004 in which Russia agreed to supply gas at the current price of $50 for the next five years. As such, Moscow and Gazprom are violating a valid, signed contract.
Of course this was before the Orange Revolution when Putin had every expectation that Yanukovych would win the staged election. When Yushchenko won in a revote, and survived a poisoning attempt, Russia suddenly discovered market prices and demanded an overnight quadrupling of the price, something no economy, no matter how stable, could tolerate. Aleksei Illarionov, who recently resigned as Kremlin finance advisor saying that "Russia was no longer free", has stated that he was pressured to invoke the blatantly false cover story about the increase in prices being merely a product of market pricing, when in fact he has said that it was always intended to be a blatant attempt at intimidation and threat.
In carrying out the threat to actually cut off the pipeline, Russia has shown the world that they cannot be trusted to honor their signed contracts.
There's more. Read the whole thing.