The driver of Russian aggression will further be efficient as 70% of revenues from the Russian export may be considered protected from sanctions.

The European Union has eventually went to the length of introduction of sanctions against Russia. It eventually happened after a long period of hesitation, different considerations and discussions. The trigger was the incident with Malaysia Airlines jetliner downed by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

However, the sanctions are selective and do not fully touch the fundamental core of the Russian economy — the oil and gas sector. Besides, the sanctions might be revised should they start harming the EU itself.

Is that another phase of eternal warnings Russia has received lately or a result of a systemic counteraction against pro-Russian lobby multiplied by influence of nontransparent financial flows generated by the export of Russian hydrocarbons in the silence of banking institutions of Europe?

Europe's "flexible" conscience

"Over several decades Russian Federation's enterprises have delivered oil and gas to the European energy markets on a purely economic basis… The supplies to the EU have never been an instrument of politics. In the times of the "cold war" in 1970-1980 everything functioned the way it has functioned for the last several weeks… Thus, after respective discussion of the issue with all EU member countries I opposed putting oil and gas sanctions on the list," European Commissioner for Energy Gunther Oettinger in said his interview to Ukrainian office of Deutsche Welle. The statement does indicate the victory of Russian gasocracy over European democracy, prices over values, and expediency over principles. A month ago the European Commissioner put the sanctions against gas and oil from Russia to the end of the list. It seems to become clearer what Brussels has worked on since the very start of sanction policy discussion. At first it worked on putting energy sanctions to the end of the list, and then — over their final removal from it.

The following gives several figures to imagine the scope of the whole energy business between Russia and the EU and explains eagerness to avoid sanctions. According to the official document entitled "Russia-EU Energy Dialogue. 13th report. January 17, 2014", the exportation of Russian energy resources to the EU amounted to:

— 159.3 million tons of oil;

— 100 million tons of petroleum products;

— 139 billion cubic meters of natural gas.

According to the Russia's Federal Customs Service, in 2012 exportation of energy products brought Russia 69.8% of revenues from the total amount of Russia's export: $366 billion from the total amount of $524.7 billion. Oil exports brought $180 million; petroleum products — $100 billion, and natural gas — $63 billion (less revenues from exportation of coal and electric energy).

Basing on the aforementioned figures, it becomes clear that the driver of Russian aggression  <> will continue as 70% of revenues of the Russian export can be considered protected from sanctions.

On July 25, glasses of famous Moselle wine — Kröver Nacktarsch — were raised to the health of the one who comes from Swabia and other German friends of the Russian gas monopoly [Gazprom] at one of the cabinets of the well-known office on Nametkina Street in Moscow. Pan-European gas flows and financial flows they generate have been retained! Although pro-Kremlin analysts say the sanctions create certain problems, however, they are not so crucial and risky as the oil and gas sector is not subjected to them.

Similar scenario becomes increasingly possible as the latest several weeks have shown. After the meeting of heads of different EU diplomatic institutions on July 22, 2014, the Euractiv publication said the sanctions were quite unlikely for both the energy sector in general and gas sector in particular. The European diplomats justified that with the risk of economic collapse for some European countries. They assured that such sanctions could become an act of suicide for the EU, which would not be of any use for Ukraine itself.

However, the logic of the aforementioned is wet as Russian policy of exported gas appreciation for the European Union leads to preservation of its stagnating economy. There is only one figure for comparison. In 2013, the average wholesale price of gas at the Henry Hub (the United States) amounted to $133.1/thousand cubic meters, while the NCG facility (Germany) offered it for $387.7/thousand cubic meters. It was almost a threefold difference. Before 2005, the situation in the gas markets of the United States and Europe was polar — the gas prices in the United States were stably higher than the ones in Europe. The result of such a radical change in the market tendencies was: intensive re-industrialization in the United States and industrial collapse in the European Union.

Orientation to Russia as a source of energy resources, which are actually not cheap, is one of the reasons for such a state of affairs. That is gradually leading to a very peculiar situation, when "tail wags the dog". That means that at present Russia's energy export to Europe determines its political and economic orientation. It is obvious that is a case only when there are Europeans who benefit from such a state of affairs, who earn much thanks to expensive Russian gas and tell how important relations with Moscow are.

Let's remain the statement, saying that the Russian gas and oil supplies to the EU have never been a political instrument, on the conscience of the European Commissioner. That is so for the core Europe. The European official could not help seeing that the energy resources have turned into the instrument of influence on a number of countries. That is only a matter of time for these energy resources to become similar instrument in respect of the European Union.

The following is several outstanding cases when the Russian Federation used energy resources and infrastructure in order to influence on other countries:

— termination of oil transit through Latvia on January 1, 2013 as a revenge for alleged discrimination of Russian minority there;

— temporary limitation of gas supplies to Belarus in winters of 2004 and 2006 as an attempt to hand over the Belarusian gas transport system to Russia's Gazprom;

— termination of gas supplies to Ukraine and the EU in winters of 2006 and 2009;

— termination of oil supplies to Lithuania from July 2006 as a revenge for "incorrect" privatization of the Mažeikiai oil refinery (in favor of a Polish, not of the Russian company);

— blocking of transit of Kazakh oil to Lithuania in 2006 aimed at removal of the rival [Kazakhstan] in the tender for privatization of the Mažeikiai oil refinery;

— energy blockade of Georgia in winter of 2006;

— limitation of oil supplies to the Czech Republic in July 2008 as a preventive "stimulus" to reject deployment of U.S. ABM systems on the territory of the country.

The Czech Republic and two Baltic countries mentioned in the list are the EU members. If Brussels considers that use of energy resources by Russia as an instrument <> of a political and economic influence touches upon countries that are not EU members, they either do not understand what Russia and its energy policy really are, or have so-called "flexible" conscience. After an avalanche of "fresh" Europe's "concerns" over the tragedy of An-26 plane downed by terrorists on July 14, 2014, one of еру creative Ukrainians gave exact definition to such feature as "flexible" conscience of European politicians and officials in his comment on Facebook. That "flexibility" has hardly changed even after the death of several hundreds of EU citizens from the hands of Russian "missile specialists" in the east of Ukraine on July 17. A part of European countries to the utmost refused to support the introduction of the third level of sanctions against the aggressor country <>: France, Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, Slovakia, as well as Italy that is presiding in the EU.

It's no secret that most of the aforementioned countries are interconnected with Russia if not through direct gas relations, then through financial flows generated by inter alia the export of the Russian gas. That is why despite Russia's violation of fundamental rights and democratic values European politicians often remind of with all their eagerness when in Kyiv, the lobby of Putin and his team's interests has not been stopped even for the last several weeks.

The crash of the commercial Boeing <> has become the Rubicon for the West's attitude to Kremlin and increased the number of proponents of anti-Putin moods. However, financial dividends from Russian projects are probably still much more important for many European politicians from large and small EU countries.

A series of Kremlin's supporters guarantee that the EU will continue playing a ridiculous role of a global pacifist being limited only to the expression of concerns and giving notices about further possible deepening and expansion of sanctions.

In this context, particularly remarkable is the artificiality of such helplessness of the EU, when a constructive solution requires only a consensus of all countries, while a vote of one politician having preliminarily corrected "flexibility" of conscience would be enough to block such a solution. It would be particularly effective if such a politician represented one of the leading EU countries. It is commonly known that the Germany-France tandem plays a leading role in the EU. The role of Germany and France in "regulation" of "Georgian-Russian conflict" (the name for the five-day war unleashed by Russia against Georgia) was known well. The result is also of common knowledge — Georgia was deprived of a part of its territory. In April 2008, Germany and France blocked the decision to provide Georgia and Ukraine with an action plan for membership of NATO at the Alliance's summit in Bucharest. The countries have continued to adhere to the same position so far. Berlin possesses the leading position in the said tandem and exerts decisive influence on the EU policy.

At the meeting of the world leaders, who ended the "cold war", in Colorado Springs (the United States) in far 1995, Margaret Thatcher prophetically noted: "You have not anchored Germany to Europe. You have anchored Europe to a newly dominant, large Germany… In the end, my friends, it will not work."

Berlin-Zurich-Europe: axle of gas corruption?

Why does Germany play into the hands of Kremlin? One of the fundamental reasons is Russian energy resources. Germany is the largest importer of Russian gas. It also imports large amounts of oil and petroleum products (see diagram)

табл 1

How these energy resources are traded? Oil, petroleum products and coal are the exchange commodities. Natural gas is mainly sold under long-term contracts signed by Gazprom with different German companies since 1973 with their contents hid behind commercial confidentiality. Over the last several years it has been possible to buy gas at a hub, for instance, in Austria.

The sale of the natural gas to Germany is rendered by Gazpromexport — 100% subsidiary of Russia's Gazprom. Gazpromexport does not only sell gas to German partner companies, but also has business with Gazprom Germania GmbH, which also fully belongs to the gas monopoly. In turn, Gazprom Germania owns stockholdings in different enterprises registered in different European countries (see fig. 1).

Within its statutory activity, apart from gas trading Gazprom Germania GmbH is also engaged in promotion of a "positive" image of Russia and its companies in Europe, covering such sectors as sport, art and culture. That may be used as a "flexible" mechanism to finance corrupt essentially, but not juristically actions at request and in favor of certain high-powered persons

Germany places the 12th in the world under the Corruption Perceptions Index 2013 (data from Transparency International). At that despite the fact that in 2013 the country signed but has not yet ratified the UN Convention against Corruption, which demands tougher rules of determination and persecution for corruption.

At present Germany calls such defects of anticorruption legislation as weak effect in the context of financial violations in the course of election processes; scarcity of influence to counteract lobbyist groups; and unregulated issue of employment of politicians in private sector almost straight after leaving their positions at government authorities. The striking example was former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, whose work in Gazprom's North Stream project has raised lots of questions until the present, just as the splendid celebration of his 70th birthday anniversary at the Yusupov Palace in Saint-Petersburg on April 28, 2014. All that sparked quite an ambivalent reaction among European media organizations.

Participation of one or another official or a party leader in this event reflected the scope of communication of transnational gasocracy in the political establishment of Europe.

According to estimations of Austrian professor of economics Frederick Schneider from University of Linz, the losses due to corruption in Germany may amount to €250 billion! The share of gas corruption is not certain, but it is obviously considerable. Sometimes it seems that all the global greed has concentrated in Germany.

However, let's get back to Gazprom Germania GmbH. One or another questionable and nontransparent energy resources trade scheme in European countries could hardly been embodied without an offshore link. Certain EU countries, such as the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and first of all Switzerland, which is not part of the EU, are traditionally the spots for activity of ambivalent business-groupings, which have earned significant capital through nontransparent transnational schemes of trading in hydrocarbons based, first of all, on corruption under the protection of Eurasian authoritarian-kleptocratic regimes.

Specific companies, cloned in Swiss cantons in order to gain supernormal profits, are the instruments that form respective influences brining them, probably, to the personal level through respective mechanism of motivation upon the guarantee of comprehensive anonymity within the total mutual cover-up. That is why Switzerland is so attractive for Gazprom. Actually, the country can be called the epicenter for financial activity of Gazprom and of many companies affiliated with it, as well as, of course, Gazprombank through its subsidiary Gazprombank (Schweiz) AG. Benevolence to this Alpine country descended to Gazprom Germania GmbH., which in turn, passed it to GAZPROM Schweiz AG.

Central Asian natural gas is traded in Austria, Italy and Serbia through GAZPROM Schweiz AG. The offices of the bank and the company are located in Zurich four kilometers one from another (GAZPROM Schweiz AG, Pelikanplatz 15, 8001 Zürich and Gazprombank (Schweiz) AG, Zollikerstrasse 183, 8008 Zürich) (see fig. 1).


According to official data, the revenues of Gazprom Germania GmbH in 2013 amounted to €13.7 billion; profit — €287 million, up 17% against 2012. The lion's share of revenues was obtained thanks to GAZPROM Schweiz AG. In 2013, 33.8 billion cubic meters of Central Asian and Azerbaijani natural gas bought in the countries of the region were sold in Europe through this company. The earnings amounted to $9.8 billion or €7.3 billion, while i8ts net profit amounted to $44.6 million. So the Swiss offshoot of the company ensures over 53% of revenues for the German offshoot of Gazpromexport. (After a simple calculation, the average sale price amounted to only $289.9/thousand cubic meters).

In 2011, GAZPROM Schweiz AG expanded its activity and corrected its profile. Under the instruction of Gazpromexport it inked contracts for acquisition of natural gas from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan having become a monopoly owner of all Central Asian gas of the Gazprom group.

It stands to mention that the European Commission has long ago abandoned demanding that Russia ensure freedom of natural gas transit from Central Asia to Europe, Moscow should have ensured in view of its membership of the World Trade Organization. What for? The gas from Central Asia is delivered to the EU via an elegant "Swiss" scheme that allows taking all the interests (both obvious and concealed) in account, as was in case with the RosUkrEnergo's scheme.

It also stands to mention that in 2011 the administrative council of GAZPROM Schweiz AG included very famous persons like Elena Burmistrova (incumbent head of Gazpromexport) and Matthias Warnig (executive director of Nord Stream AG).

Authorized capital of GAZPROM Schweiz AG remains at the level of CHF 300,000, which under generally accepted rules of business environment does not allow providing large-scale credit, leasing and other transactions in compliance with the list of activities enshrined in the statute. So it is possible to make a conclusion about "paper" trade in gas in order to gain high profits to the benefit of a narrow group.

The key figure of GAZPROM Schweiz AG is former employee of east German Hauptverwaltung Aufklarung (HVA) of the Ministry for State Security (commonly known as the Stasi) Matthias Warnig (it is well-known that the professional and reconnaissance past of Putin was also linked to GDR). It is worth noting that at different times Warnig was an independent director at governing bodies of a number of companies and banks affiliated with incumbent lord of Kremlin: bank Russia, Bank VTB, Rosneft, Transneft, and UC Rusal. That is another indicator of Warnig services' exclusiveness and his affiliation with Kremlin. Sources in the United States note that in his time Warnig had five-year training in penetration and work in the western banking system. Swiss banking system traditionally and successfully attracts and gives the greatest opportunities for holding delicate transactions.

The first reason lies in peculiarities of Swiss-style business. According to the Swiss economic law amended on January 1, 2008 (far not aimed at its transparency), holding stockholders' register is exclusively a corporate prerogative. If earlier the register was held at the level of canton, from 2008 on it has been rendered at the corporate level. The company itself holds the register of stockholders and does not have to inform anyone about its contents. The Swiss legislation sets limited obligation of a company to publish its business information: for instance, annual reports, accountant balances, and audit statements are delivered only to stockholders.

Under the Swiss law, a company is considered to be established from the moment of its putting on the commercial register. It contains information about location, authorized capital, members of governing body, about the ones who have signature right, and about responsible persons. However, it contains no open information about stockholders, as that information is provided to the third parties only with the knowledge of the stockholders.

That is one of the crucial moments letting understand how real statements of officials or politicians as for non-affiliation with certain business registered in Switzerland could be.

The second very important reason: a specific feature of RosUkrEnergo or GAZPROM Schweiz AG companies lies in possibility to issue two types of shares: registered or shares to bearer.

The thing is that under respective decision of stockholders registered shares can be transformed into shares to bearer (essentially anonymous), and vice versa. A certificate of shares to bearer does not contain data about their owners, and an acquirer of a certificate is considered an owner automatically. He is not put on the register of companies. Neither the company, nor a meeting of stockholders or any of responsible persons have to find out how that certificate appears in hands of its owner.

The shares to bearer are handed over through a physical provision of a certificate as there is no need to put any information about the handed over certificate or draw up any supporting document. Their owner can deny personal affiliation with the shares as they do not bear his name, but has right to regularly demand and obtain dividends. That opens wide range of opportunities for actions of the company in favor of one or another person.

Basing on the Swiss law, the company can deny a request for shareholders and the period of possession of those shares. That allows any state official in one or another country, combining his or her activity with the activity of a company with "purely flexible" conscience, to state non-affiliation with it.

That is all the delicacy of such schemes of business organization. It gives almost unlimited opportunities to real owners and in fact protects them from criminal responsibility for corruption in their countries. It's quite possible that those, who possess shares to bearer, can not only be ministry politicians, but also occupy the posts of prime ministers, presidents, who acted through particularly affiliated persons.

South Stream as a mirror of "flexible" conscience

South Stream has become a particular lie detector European politicians, not indifferent to financial benevolence of Gazprom and willing to multiply it in the future, have to go through. Such a statement is reflected in speeches of EU diplomats.

On July 14, 2014, German Ambassador to Russia Rüdiger von Fritsch said that German Government would protect interests of German business in the project of construction of South Stream gas pipeline and expressed hope that all the problematic issues related to it would be successfully settled (German Wintershall is a stockholder of a sea section of the project).

At the presentation of Italian presidency in the EU in Brussels, on July 10, Italian secretary of state for European affairs Sandro Gozi said that South Stream should be constructed as it "would facilitate diversification of gas supplies routes to Europe." Several days earlier Foreign Affairs Minister of Italy Federica Mogherini said that the implementation of the South Stream project is "extremely important" from the point of view of energy security of whole European region.

On July 5, French Ambassador to Russia Jean-Maurice Ripert also almost supported South Stream and noted that France has no prejudice referring Russian gas, as the Gaz de France company (as well as its successors) actively buys the fuel.

These statements by officials of the three leading EU countries were almost simultaneous. That was not accidental as the stakes in the project belong to Russian Gazprom (50%), Italian ENI (20%), German Wintershall (15%), and French EdF (15%). Although the revenues from these companies to the state budgets of respective countries hardly excess several percents, threat to get water several degrees colder and anger of voters overcome European values in behavior and decisions of European politicians. However, that is just a tip of the iceberg as real motives for such a behavior may lay much deeper in offshore companies and on accounts cherishingly replenished by Russian gas partners.

Austria to some extent has repeated its step once taken in 1962 (the first contract on gas supply from the USSR to the Western Europe in the age of the cold war) by signing the contract on construction of South Stream in 2014.

Political figures of the country along with businesses have spent many years to create and retain attractive investment climate, possibly not noticing the fact of country's gradual turning into a convenient harbor for questionable financial flows. It will be impossible to justify such a step by economic preferences for the state as the data on foreign economic activity for 2012 indicates that the Russian Federation lags behind in the first ten most important partners with mutual trade credit balance deficit of about €1 billion. At the same time, the balance of trade with the United States had surplus of over €2.4 billion and tended to grow. Respectively, there is a reason for such shortsightedness of Austrian politicians and it is most likely lies in the interest in financial stimuli for conscience "flexibility" generated by Russian gas flows.

Of course, every party, all participants of the project including the authorized companies in EU member countries-future transit territories have enough thanks to such a large "pie" like South Stream. Gazprom will have half in a joint-venture in each of the countries, while the second half will belong to a national company authorized by respective government.

Italy is now at the peak of its activity. That is linked not only with the fact that its national oil and gas company ENI has the largest (following Gazprom) stake in the project, but also with the fact that its subsidiary Saipem will fulfill a high-value contract for laying pipes of the first branch of the gas pipeline on the bottom of the Black Sea at the depth of over two kilometers. Saipem S.p.A. is a subsidiary of ENI and one of the world's largest oil and gas contractors with a large fleet of specialized vessels for operations in the sea and laying sea gas pipelines with different diameter at different depths.

Saipem received the contract for laying the first branch and construction of coastline and shallow-water sections of all four branches of South Stream in March 2014. The cost of laying a branch is €2 billion. The second branch will be laid by a Danish company registered in Switzerland — Allseas Group S.A. with the assistance of Saipem. For this end it is planned to use newly manufactured Pieter Schelte vessel designed for single-lift installation/removal of large offshore oil/gas platforms, as well as for the installation of subsea oil/gas pipelines. The cost of the contract is confidential.

On the whole it stands to mention that the estimated cost of sending Yamal gas to Europe is, according to the calculations of the East European Gas Analysis center, about €56 billion. There is no a unified norm for a "support reward", however, according to well-informed and reliable sources, such a reward may fluctuate between 22 and 68%. The lower figure refers to works executed on the territory of EU countries, and the highest one — in Russia. Taking arithmetic average in account, the norm of the "support reward" will amount to 45%. That means €25.2 billion, part of which may be generously used "to express gratitude" to both Kremlin team and European politicians and officials for enhancement of "flexibility" of their conscience with its further turning into the "clay" one.

The Swiss component in the scheme of implementation of the South Stream project is required in order to ensure proper distribution of the said amount among requisite accounts of requisite people in different countries (see fig. 2).


South Stream covers the distance from Russia's Yamal through the Black Sea to the Alps. The amount exceeding €25 billion will in prospect allow resolving all the problematic issues with European officials and politicians, especially now that the "Gaza Strip" has been brought out the regime of EU sanctions against Russia.

Therefore, the European Commission's decision to agree for exception of South Stream from the operation of the Third Energy Package seems to be just a matter of time. Billions of euros from Swiss accounts can do much more than this. No wonder why the European Commission for already six months has not provided the results of its anti-monopoly investigation into Gazprom's activity in the EU markets. For its violations the Russian gas monopoly should be fined $10-15 billion (according to the data from various sources). The issue is likely to be softpedaled: the amount of the fine will either be symbolic or the "debts" will be forgiven at all. The evidence to that are repeated appeals of representatives of the European Commission for core directorate for counteraction against corruption to Russia with proposals to resolve disputes contrary to the investigation and bringing to responsibility rules enshrined in directives and regulations.

What comes next?

Are there instruments of counteraction against such an elegant "transnational gas corruption?" Yes, there are. Globally, first of all the United States should not curtail the special program of the National Security Agency for monitoring of allies in Europe. According to the events of the last several months, some EU countries, first of all the leading ones, figuratively speaking, are the allies to the United States on even-numbered days, while on odd-numbered days they are the ones to Russia with its nontransparent transnational gas business.

It would be expedient to establish an ad hoc commission within the European Parliament to tackle the issue of transnational corruption schemes in the sector of trade in energy products proceeding from the fact that they may be equalized with terrorism in order of their dangerousness and harmfulness.

The activity of Russian companies trading in energy resources in the EU, and of banks from Russia and leading EU countries involved in financing of such trading, should be closely examined for the purpose of tax dodging and violation of current legislation, in particular, for the purpose of their affiliation with terrorist organizations.

The United States and the EU should have obliged banking and financial institutions to provide open information about financial transactions of mineral companies affiliated with Russian exporters, held in interests of third parties, in particular, of ones with offshore jurisdiction. It is quite probable that the mystery of unique behavior of German chancellors in Russian issues is hid, inter alia in German-language Swiss cantons, such as Zug and Zurich.

At the end let's get back to South Stream again. Ukraine's current ability to counteract EU's policy of playing into the hands of Russia in gas sector should not be underestimated. South Stream will obviously exert considerable influence first of all on Ukrainian-Russian, and not Russian-EU relations: if implemented the project will not introduce "added value" for the EU as it will not increase gas supplies amount, will not diversify sources of its supplies, but will become a powerful instrument in hands of Kremlin for its further aggression against Ukraine. Gazprom will try to bring Ukraine to its knees by total transfer of gas supplies from Ukraine to South Stream.

Should the EU further close its eyes to such an obvious fact, an adequate step for Ukraine may be a preventive termination of transit services rendered to the aggressor. At present by transiting Russian gas through its territory, Ukraine — against the background of total unwillingness of the EU to introduce sanctions against Russia's energy sector — itself triggers Russian aggression.

At the same time, by refusing to transport Gazprom's gas, Ukraine as a member of the European energy community should ensure an opportunity of transit through its territory the gas of European companies that should be bought by them at Ukrainian-Russian border. In such a simple way it would be possible to transfer the Russian gas acquisition point for European companies from the western border of Ukraine to the Ukrainian-Russian one. The earlier such step is made the more effective it will be, especially in current circumstances of full termination of Russia gas supplies to Ukraine.

At the end a fragment of a recent letter of leading liberal European newspapers to the EU governments can't help being mentioned: "Mr. Putin is still delivering weapons and mercenaries to the east of Ukraine. He continues to gather his troops along the border." It can be added with the fact that apart from delivering weapon and mercenaries to Ukraine, Kremlin delivers corruption flows to Europe, which are servicing the purpose of Russia to eliminate Ukraine, guaranteeing EU's deliberative position. However, the strategy has already begun to show signs of strain… European values seem not to be totally forgotten in Europe, however, gasocracy is still winning. Should backstage German-Russian agreements on Ukraine that read "Crimea to Russia in exchange for Russian gas to the EU and Ukraine" prove out, they would be a logical continuation of backstage relations based on intensive gas and money flows within the Moscow-Berlin-Zurich triangle.