Hungary active in UkraineHe began with Ukraine, a country that is in the cross hairs of the Hungarian government. It is here that the Orbán government is trying to stir up trouble. Lázár praised the work of the Hungarian military and civilian intelligence in Kiev both during and “after” the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Hungarian intelligence has also been busy in the Hungarian-inhabited parts of the Subcarpathian region of Ukraine. Reading this portion of Lázár’s speech, I gained the distinct impression that in this border region secret agents are busy feeding the Hungarian minority’s dissatisfaction. The Orbán government expects, perhaps even hopes for, a conflict between Ukrainians and Hungarians, which might give Hungary an opportunity to demand a “solution” to the problem. Only yesterday Magyar Közlöny (Official Gazette) reported that this year the Hungarian government has provided 116 million forints “for the training of civilian guards,” who are supposed to defend Hungarians against Ukrainian aggression. Lázár in his speech admitted that the Ukrainian government strenuously objects to the Hungarian government’s meddling in the country’s affairs. Indeed, the Orbán government treats Ukraine like a state from whose collapse Hungary might profit.
Is the birth of Novorossiya the death of Central Europe?In the past few days, Russian troops bearing the flag of a previously unknown country, Novorossiya, have marched across the border of southeastern Ukraine. The Russian Academy of Sciences recently announced it will publish a history of Novorossiya this autumn, presumably tracing its origins back to Catherine the Great. Various maps of Novorossiya are said to be circulating in Moscow. Some include Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk, cities that are still hundreds of miles away from the fighting. Some place Novorossiya along the coast, so that it connects Russia to Crimea and eventually to Transnistria, the Russian-occupied province of Moldova. […] Russian soldiers will have to create this state — how many of them depends upon how hard Ukraine fights, and who helps them — but eventually Russia will need more than soldiers to hold this territory. […]A few days ago, Alexander Dugin, an extreme nationalist whose views have helped shape those of the Russian president, issued an extraordinary statement. “Ukraine must be cleansed of idiots,” he wrote — and then called for the “genocide” of the “race of bastards.”
The best boast that Gazprom boss Alexei Miller could muster at St. Petersburg was that the price would be more than $350 per thousand cubic meters, which converts to $9.75 per mmbtu. That is to say, better than what China had been hoping for and even less than Gazprom gets from current European customers, which averages a little less than $11 per mmbtu. Then too Gazprom will have to spend maybe $30 billion building new pipelines from its West Siberian heartland and/or drilling for new supplies closer to China in East Siberia. "New capex will likely cause free cash flow to turn negative in the medium term," an analyst from Renaissance Capital in Moscow told Bloomberg, financial wonk language for Gazprom got taken to the cleaners. Gazprom shares stayed more or less flat on the news, while those of Chinese gas distributors like China Gas Holdings (HKG:0384) and Beijing Enterprise Holdings (HKG:0392) took a jump.