Ukraine’s Economic & Energy Woes Merge

Via Stratfor (subscription required), interesting analysis of the impact that Ukraine’s economic woes is having upon its energy position and potential energy crisis.  As the report notes:

“…Russia’s biggest private investment bank, Troika Dialog, announced July 6 that it is willing to provide Ukrainian state energy company Naftogaz with up to $4 billion in financing to secure payment for natural gas imports. The announcement comes as Ukraine continues to meet with representatives from the European Union and international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on securing a loan for this very reason, as the deadline to pay Russia for this month’s supplies is just a day away.

Ukraine, which has taken a significant beating from the global recession, has found itself in a precarious position when it comes to making payments for the natural gas that Russia sends its way. After the natural gas imbroglio at the beginning of the year, Russia and Ukraine reached a tenuous deal regarding payment and supply under which Kiev would pay its natural gas bill on the seventh of each month. Because Ukraine faces such immense economic challenges — it essentially is on IMF life support — each month has seen Ukraine on the verge of missing its payment deadline, sparking rumors of another energy crisis.

Because the Europeans stand to suffer in the event of any natural gas cutoff, they have involved themselves in ongoing discussions to secure a loan for Ukraine to stave off a cutoff for at least the remainder of 2009. But as STRATFOR has said, such talks have little chance of providing anything more than token financing. The Europeans are divided on the cutoff issue, with Continental heavyweight Germany extremely reluctant to provide cash while it seeks to claw its way out of the recession. Meanwhile, loans for energy imports are outside the IMF’s usual scope, while the $4 billion price tag is far higher than the EBRD’s typical loans.

Russia also has offered financial assistance to Naftogaz, but such assistance almost certainly will come with strings attached. In January, Moscow said it would be willing to help out “if and only if” Ukraine offered part of its energy infrastructure in return.

Enter Troika. As Russia’s largest independent capital firm, Troika has both the clout and resources to loan Naftogaz enough to cover the estimated $4 billion bill. (The Kremlin owns nearly half of Troika under a complex shareholder structure; though the investment firm’s funds are private, its assets are tightly linked to the government through the state’s pension fund and other various public funds.) Troika probably expects to gain control of strategic Ukrainian assets, be they energy or political, in return for the loan to Naftogaz.

Such a deal, which could be signed later this month, would mark another move in which the Kremlin uses a once-independent player to promote its international agenda. In the meantime, Ukraine would lose strategic assets to Russia, which also would benefit the Kremlin. And while Ukraine obviously wants to avoid such a deal, Kiev’s deteriorating financial position may leave them with little choice.”

This entry was posted on Monday, July 6th, 2009 at 2:39 pm and is filed under Russia, Ukraine.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

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