The Russians are at a low ebb: their dreams of $200 oil have (temporarily) evaporated; gas demand and gas prices have (temporarily) collapsed; and no-one was even slightly impressed by the Keystone Kops-style invasion of Georgia. Still less is anyone interested in their useless manufactured goods, desperate though they are to graduate from being a natural resources economy.
So they need to talk. However, in traditional Russian fashion, having put out the feelers, they still insist the meeting must be at their place.
It’s nevertheless an important opportunity. And we send Banana-Boy Miliband to bang on about Litvinenko. Miliboy, here’s what it boils down to:
- put your banana away, there’s nothing to be had on the Litvinenko front
- we will need their gas – and lots of it - five years or so from now
- there is a once-in-a-lifetime window to strike some good deals now, while gas prices are, as predicted :+) remarkably low and, offstage, the rest of Europe is locked in increasingly acrimonious disputes over their old-style Russian gas contracts
- get on with it
By which, I mean - clear the ground for Centrica et al to get on with it. They know how to avoid the contractual mistakes that bedevil European long-term gas deals.
Then you can piss off and be Europe's 'Lord High Representative' or whatever.
footnote: much as I despise him, it’s a bit unfair of the Grauniad to accuse Miliband of being unable to pronounce the Russian President’s name. If he did say ‘Midvidiv’, that’s closer to the real thing than Medd-vedd-evv, which is what they seem to be suggesting.