Gerhard Schröder, who still was the German Chancellor a month ago, accepted to be president of a company in charge of building a gas pipeline connecting Russia with his country and Western Europe through the Baltic Sea. There is a conflict of interests though and this moral problem is intensified by the fact that right now Russia is threatening, through the state company Gazprom, to cut off the gas supply to Ukraine. Today, such a threat means cutting off the supply to Western Europe. With the new gas pipeline that would skirt Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic countries, the former KGB descendents close to Putin will not have to worry anymore about the West reaction and will be able to bring pressure to bear on their post-communist neighbours.
Can Europe give Russia such an imperialist weapon? Can Europe accept to knuckle under to Russian pressures? The fact that an ex-chancellor is involved in that project shows the arrogance of Europe in the face of Putin’s neo-imperialist ambitions. When Europe shall depend on Russian energy, the Kremlin won’t have to worry any longer about any criticisms concerning human rights and democracy, and it already enjoys this condition. Europe hoped that Russia would grow more and more “European” but what Putin did, however, was to build an energy bastion to protect the new KGB elite. After having imposed his will on the Russians, Putin will do the same to the citizens of independent nations. As former president of independent Lithuania, I have often faced the Russian threats.
The Kremlin is quite strong and feigns a democratic idealism, but you should see how it treats the Chechens or Mihail Jordorkovsky, or how it harasses the foreign NGO’s or accuses Yuliya Tymoshenko. Russia cannot be considered to be a part of a common human rights and democracy space with E.U. Russia is no longer a reliable ally against terror. Can the land of “Red Terror”, of the innumerable crimes committed with impunity during the soviet era, and of the still stained hands with the blood of people from Lithuania to the Caucasus, be believed to really help fight the world menace embodied by Iran and North Korea?
For decades, the European region from where I come from was entirely left to Evil. This is a reason why I can’t remain silent at a moment when Europe is groping around in a new accommodating policy.

Daily Times (Pakistan)

Russia’s pipeline to Empire”, by Vytautas Landsbergis, Free Republic, December 16, 2005.
Russia’s pipeline to empire”, Daily Times, December 17, 2005.
El gasoducto ruso, hacia el imperio”, El Tiempo, December 20, 2005