Russia Links Ukraine Gas Negotiations with EU Approval of South Stream Pipeline

Russia is reportedly seeking to link its negotiations with Ukraine over the price it should pay for natural gas imports from Gazprom to the European Commission‘s (EC) current review of the Russian-backed South Stream and Opal gas pipelines and their compliance with EC energy regulations.  In other words, Moscow is seeking to influence the cost/benefit analysis being conducted by the EC (which includes important national security considerations), by holding Ukrainian gas imports hostage.  If the natural gas dispute becomes central in negotiations to diffuse the current conflict in eastern Ukraine, it is possible that a de-escalation of the kinetic, military conflict between Russia and Ukraine could, essentially, be linked by Moscow to Europe‘s acceptance, in effect, of Russian domination of its natural gas markets (and the permanent circumvention of Ukraine in doing so).