American politicians believe that the ability of the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to establish a personal contact with partners guarantees success at the talks on the shipments of energy resources from Central Asia. Republican Senator in the US Congress, Richard Lugar, is one of those who share this opinion.
“Prime Minister Putin visits Central Asia several times a year, and his personal diplomacy is highly important for Russia’s success. NATO and EU leaders did not find time, energy and the political capital that the West needed to establish its relations with the region,” the senator said during his appearance at the National Defense University in Washington.
Lugar urged the US president to personally visit the countries of Central Asia in the nearest future. “The US president needs to visit Central Asia and to describe the highly important strategic arguments. I would welcome such a visit of President Bush during his latest months in the office. His successor must definitely make a visit to Central Asia an event of high priority in the beginning of his presidency,” the senator said.
Lugar is concerned about Russia’s energy monopoly. Russia signed several agreements to build Nord Stream and South Stream pipelines to strengthen its predominance in the energy industry, the politician believes. In addition, Russia signed a deal to deliver energy carriers to Greece, Bulgaria and Hungary. Russia also ensures the deliveries of the African natural gas to Europe.
The US senator said that Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan could be used as a source to struggle against the Russian energy monopoly. The two countries possess extensive energy resources, which, as the politician believes, may play the key role in Europe’s diversification efforts.
Lugar said that he had met the leaders of the two countries in the beginning of the year. The prime ministers of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan told Lugar that they wanted to expand the dialogue with the West. Nevertheless, both Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan signed large deals with Moscow to sell oil and gas to Russia for their subsequent transportation to European markets. The deals were signed as a reaction to the inability of the West to provide an alternative, Richard Lugar said.
“The readiness of the governments of Central Asian states to discuss trans-Caspian alternatives will not be turned into an investment without the coordinated cooperation on the top level,” the senator said. Europe will become even more dependent on Russia’s Gazprom as a result of the Nord Stream and South Stream deals, he believes.
The West has not been successful yet in its efforts to build the Nabucco gas pipeline due to the lack of unity among the Western countries, the senator said. He emphasized that NATO and the European Union do not have the joint energy policy, which jeopardizes USA’s political interests in Europe.