What is the real cost of cheap Russian gas?

(Climate Change News, 22 Oct 2019) Comment: Few people in the West think about the ethics of buying fossil fuels from Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Are Europeans really aware of where their cheap Russian gas comes from? Let’s start with the place where the gas is extracted: in the Yamal Peninsula.

This is where the gas from the Nord Stream 2 pipeline will be produced. Yamal did not originally belong to Russia. The Russian Empire began the colonisation of Yamal in the 16th century.

The Russian empire was mainly interested in profiteering from the region’s fur, which it sold to Europe. One third of the Russian state’s public treasury derived from the fur trade with the West. Before that could happen, land was seized. The indigenous peoples of Yamal resisted colonisation and, in response, the colonialists brutally killed them.

The Soviets separated indigenous peoples from their children and reindeers by force. Indigenous peoples have organised the Mandalada, a movement to safeguard their traditional way of life. After fierce resistance, Mandalada participants were arrested.

The discovery of oil and gas deposits in the Yamal Peninsula, which promised the region prosperity, did not improve, but rather worsened the situation. Gazprom continues to seize the lands of the indigenous peoples of Yamal in an attempt to extract even more gas. As a result, the local population is left without grazing [land] for its reindeer. For the indigenous peoples of Yamal, little has changed since the 16th century: the empire took furs from them and sold them to the West. Now the empire is taking oil and gas from them and selling it to the West. The lion’s share of tax revenue from the sale of fossil fuels does not remain in the Yamal region, but is sent to Moscow.

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Climate Change News, 22 Oct 2019: What is the real cost of cheap Russian gas?