Sunday, January 25, 2009

it's a thin line.....,

Reuters | Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will try to persuade gas producer Uzbekistan that it should ignore the overtures of European suitors hunting for alternatives to Russian energy supplies.

Two weeks of fuel shortages caused by a row between Russia and Ukraine have galvanized European efforts to tap into non-Russian energy and Central Asian states are being courted.

Both Uzbekistan and its gas producing neighbor Turkmenistan pump all their exported gas via Russia, but are showing signs that they are open to new alliances -- a change that could threaten Russia's control over the region's energy.

"Uzbekistan, like its neighbors, is trying to diversify its relations," said Azhdar Kurtov of Russia's Strategic Research Institute. "That is noticeable ... in the gas sector."

Medvedev will meet Uzbek President Islam Karimov on Thursday at the start of a two-day visit, his first to the former Soviet republic since he was elected president last year.

Europe depends on Russia for a quarter of its gas and anxiety over the reliability of those supplies was increased by the Russia-Ukraine dispute, which disrupted flows to about 20 states in the European Union.

"It is unwise for one member state to rely on one country for its energy supplies. This was not secure," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said this week.

"We have to stop simply talking about energy security in Europe, and start doing something about it,"