Russia's Gazprom Continues Flexing Its Muscles Despite EU Antitrust Concerns
In late April, the European Union (EU) formally charged Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned natural gas giant, over violating EU antitrust laws, also known as the EU competition law. The law is meant to protect the market by making sure businesses don’t abuse their large market shares and become monopolies. Political and economic analysts believe that the EU has the upper hand in this case. Gazprom’s response? The Russian government owns 50.23% of the company, and therefore, it’s not subject to the law’s jurisdiction. The EU won’t budge though, with EU energy commissioner Günter Oettinger saying that Russia is playing an economic “game of divide and conquer,” thus destroying the EU’s gas market. This scenario couldn’t come at a worse time, given the EU’s current relations with Russia; however, Russia might need EU customers more than the EU needs Russian gas. At the same time, Gazprom is still making business in Europe, especially in Ukraine. The company recently announced that it had received a US$32 million instalment from Ukraine- its third in May alone. If you add that up with the other instalments, it means that Ukraine has already paid Russia $102 million for its May gas supply in less than 20 days.