Yesterday we presented why when it comes to Syria, the UN Security Council can forget any attempt at "overhauling" a regime that is a cornerstone for Russian naval presence in the Mediterranean and the middle east. Today, in the aftermath of the UN reminder that it is the world's biggest collection of post-facto hypocrites, not to mention, the world's most irrelevant and ineffectual organization, anger at the Russian and Chinese veto has already manifested itself, as protesters have attacked the Russian embassy in Tripoli and tore down the Russian flag, Al Jazeera reported on Sunday. As Itar-Tass reports, "According to Al Jazeera, the riots staged by the Syria opposition involved Libyans as well. No further details are available so far. None of the Russian diplomats has been hurt in an rally stage by the Syrian opposition in front of the Russian embassy in Tripoli on Sunday, an officer from the Russian embassy told Itar-Tass over the phone. “No one has managed to break into the territory of the Russian diplomatic mission, no one of the personnel has been hurt. All are safe and sound. Although the protesters have managed to tear down the Russian flag,” the diplomat said." Still, the wily occupiers of the Kremlin preempted what they perceived as potential 'displeasure' with Russian tactics to protect its own national interests. Because as Zero Hedge has been reminding readers on occasion, Russia has something that is far more valuable to Europe than the Goldman-alum controlled printing press: it has the world's largest natural gas reserves. Which for a continent gripped in one the coldest winters on record, whose heating infrastructure is based primarily on natgas, and where Russian imports account for 25% of total nat gas, Russia has the upper hand in, well, everything. Which it gladly reminded the world of yesterday. According to the AP: Russia's state-controlled Gazprom natural gas giant acknowledged for the first time Saturday that it "had briefly reduced gas supplies to Europe amid a spell of extreme cold." Oops... Just a fat finger there, nothing to worry about. Oh, and if anyone forgets that in the Eurasian continent it is Russia who increasingly holds all the cards, Gazprom may "briefly" cut all supplies to Europe, -40 C degree temperatures be damned. Briefly...
Gazprom deputy chief Andrey Kruglov reported to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that the cuts lasted for several days and reached up to 10 percent, but supplies are currently back to normal. Officials in Austria and France, however, have reported cuts of as much as 30 percent, and Italy said supplies were down by 24 percent Thursday.
Naturally, there is a scapegoat:
Russia previously had blamed Ukraine for the shortages, saying Kiev is siphoning off more than its share. Authorities in Ukraine have denied the accusations.
The mutual rebukes echoed the previous gas crises, when Gazprom supplies to Europe were cut over price arguments between Russia and Ukraine, the conduit for the biggest export pipeline for Russian gas to reach Europe.
The response chain has been activated => committees have been formed and what not.
The European Commission put its gas coordination committee on alert Friday, but insisted the situation had not yet reached an emergency level as nations have pledged to help each other if needed and storage facilities have been upgraded.
Putin on Saturday tried to use the situation to emphasize the need for alternative supply routes bypassing Ukraine, including the Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea, the first line of which was inaugurated in November.
Unfortunately for Europe, Russia's monopolistic control of its warmth will only increase with time.
Another Russian pipeline, the South Stream, is expected to go online in 2015 to transport Russian gas to Europe under the Black Sea.
Putin said the current high demand for Russian gas underscores the need for the new pipelines. Europe gets about 25 percent of its natural gas from Russia, which has the world's largest reserves.
"It's obvious today that there is a strong demand for these projects, which both we and our partners," Putin said.
He ordered Gazprom to try to meet an increased demand for the Russian gas in Europe, but added that the company's priority should be to satisfy the local demand.
But, but, can't Saudi Arabia supply the missing gas (obviously this is a joke). After all the Saudis are confident they can be the source of all crude supply even if all the members of OPEC and Russia go offline, or so the joke goes. Apparently, the answer is no:
Putin scoffed at the EU's hopes to fill a higher demand for gas
Oh, and before we forget, Russia is also the world's largest oil producer in the world having recently overtaken Saudi Arabia, and second (possibly the) largest exporter. Any questions now who has not only all the trump cards, but all the cards, period?