Saturday, April 29, 2006

US urged to be tougher on Russia�|�

US urged to be tougher on Russia�|�

"Republican Senator John McCain, a possible presidential contender, said Washington should be tougher on what he called President Vladimir Putin's autocratic rule and 'some perverted vision of a restoration of the Soviet empire'.

'In all the days of the Soviet Union, Russia never turned off the spigot of gas. Putin did,' McCain told an International Republican Institute lunch attended by Barroso.

The EU Commission president said Moscow had been a reliable energy supplier in the past and had an interest in secure demand from the EU and also in European investment, technology and know-how to get oil and gas out of the ground.

He criticized Moscow for refusing to ratify an international energy charter treaty that would force it to open its pipeline network to third-party suppliers.

It was up to Russians to decide whether they wanted 'a real democracy or a half-democracy', the head of the EU executive said. The quality of Europe's relations with Moscow would depend on that choice.

Barroso highlighted European concern at perceived efforts by Putin to use energy as an instrument of power politics with its neighbors and partners.

'We are seeing more frequently the use of energy resources as an instrument of political coercion,' the Commission chief said, without explicitly naming Moscow.

'Together, the EU and the United States must send a clear signal on the need for a paradigm shift on energy.'

The EU, depending on Russia for a quarter of its gas, is concerned that Moscow is keeping its pipeline network closed to competition, extending its network control westwards through Ukraine and Belarus, and trying to monopolize pipeline access to Central Asian gas supplies, notably in Turkmenistan."

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