If Any Country Will Break Up, It Is Russia

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In response to "A New Russia Upon a Hill," a comment by Igor Panarin on Jan. 12.

Editor,

If the price of oil and gas continues to fall or remains at it's current depressed level for the remainder of 2009, we will be splitting up Russia, and I would give a good part of it to Ukraine.

Denis M. Feldman
Houston

Editor,


Although Panarin's article makes for a good fantasy novel, it is complete nonsense. It is obvious the author has never been to the United States. Perhaps he should write about little green men from Mars.

David Lerma
Houston


Good PR Is Not Enough

In response to "Russia Wins Round 2 of Gas Fight," a comment by Vladimir Frolov on Jan. 13.

Editor,


From a PR perspective, Frolov is right: It does seem that Gazprom and the Russian government were well prepared for this dispute.

But far more distressing is the humanitarian aspect of the dispute. The Russian side knew exactly what it was doing by provoking a crisis at exactly this time of year.

The timing of the dispute reinforces the assertion that Russia is an unreliable energy partner. The Kremlin's successful PR does little to convince Europe that energy policy and Gazprom, in particular, are not deliberately being used as political weapons against the European Union, NATO and Ukraine.

The author also seems to think that Western newspaper and television reports were positive, but he does not acknowledge the fact that international media and political opinion are calling for less reliance on Russian gas and oil and an immediate shift toward alternative fuel sources.

In military parlance, winning a battle is irrelevant if you ultimately lose the war.

Rikki Ferguson
Moscow

Editor,


Public relations is all about perceptions. The truth is that the world's perception about Moscow's role in the current gas crisis isn't positive at all. I have read many articles in newspapers from all over the world that speak poorly about how Russia acted during the dispute.

It seems to me that Moscow has a lot to learn about public relations for the upcoming round three! Perhaps the Kremlin needs to pay more attention to the advice of the Western PR firms it hired.

James Leadley
Vancouver


Russia's Energy Weapon

In response to "Kiev Must Pay the Price for Victimizing the EU," a comment by Thierry Mariani on Jan. 15.

Editor,


Anyone who is familiar with Russian-Ukrainian relations, particularly since 2004, should understand that there are always at least two sides to every conflict.

Informed people know that this gas crisis is not merely a commercial dispute, and anyone who points the finger exclusively at one country or the other suggests that he is either ill-informed or biased in some way.

It is disappointing to see this opinion coming from an EU citizen who leads a regional body whose mission it is to foster economic interaction and harmony among the Black Sea countries.

I do agree with the author that Europeans needs to diversify their energy supplies, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe. But it needs to diversify its energy sources as well as its routes.

Merely changing the pipelines through which Gazprom's gas flows is a short-term solution; it does not change the fact that Russia has shown itself willing to use energy as a foreign policy weapon. I don't blame the Kremlin for that, but it is a fact that must be taken into consideration as Europe develops its own alternative energy strategy.

I am not an apologist for Ukraine's political leaders. In fact, I believe that they have let down their citizens. Guided by their own self-interests, they are the main obstacle, to use Mariani's words, to the country "inserting itself into the global economy and achieving political maturity."

The past four years have been extremely disappointing for anyone who cares about Ukraine's political, economic and social development.

Tim McQuillin
Kiev



At a Loss Over Lost Luggage

In response to "Airlines Barred From Delivering Lost Bags," a front-page article by Natalya Krainova on Jan. 19.

Editor,


Russia's rule requiring passengers to return to the airport to retrieve luggage that the airlines have lost is really bad news.

If you are a Moscow resident and lost your luggage on a recent flight, it would be inconvenient to have to return to the airport afterward to retrieve your bags, to be sure, but it still would be possible to do.

If you live outside of Moscow, however -- whether it is Siberia or Seattle -- you can imagine the headaches, complications and expenses involved. Who would want to fly back to Moscow at his own expense to collect a lost bag?

Russia's rule on lost luggage will probably mean that passengers will use every possible trick to take their bags onboard as carry-on luggage, which is already a problem on many flights to Russia.

Aat Hougee
Chelyabinsk