President Putin was in Portugal this weekend campaigning for support of Russia’s bid to join the World Trade Organization. Russian officials claim “the delays in increasing the EU-Russian relationship has to do with Russia not joining the World Trade Organization.” The European Union is particularly concerned at the fact Putin has dramatically increased the Russian government’s ownership of oil, gas, and power transmission lines in order to enable his country to set prices and put the squeeze on European nations requiring these resources. Several major oil and power companies were persuaded to surrender control to the Russian government which now has the capability of setting prices. Several months ago, Russia threatened to withhold gas supplies to the Ukraine unless it followed the Moscow line on aspects of its internal politics. The Russian power squeeze is another example of allowing a small number of countries to control energy resources in a world ever increasingly dependent upon those resources.
Until the United States and the European Union develop alternative power sources they will be subject to blackmail on the part of oil producing nations and Russia.