Why Ukraine? Geopolitics
To a large degree, the tragic events that unfolded in Ukraine in 2013-14 were driven by developments beyond Ukraine's borders. Of course, domestic factors also played a crucial role, and Ukrainian political actors at all points across the political spectrum must share in the blame for what transpired. But it was Ukraine's ambiguous geopolitical position, and the clumsy interventions of competing outside powers pursuing their own self-centered agendas, that pushed Ukraine's log-jammed domestic politics over the brink into violent civil war.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko welcomes International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde in Kyiv, Ukraine, September 6, 2015.
A major factor in the crisis that led to deadly protests and eventually Yanukovych's removal from office was his rejection of an EU association agreement that would have further opened trade and integrated Ukraine with the European Union. The agreement was tied to a 17 billion dollars loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Instead, Yanukovych chose a Russian aid package worth 15 billion dollars plus a 33 percent discount on Russian natural gas. [...] The East-West competition over Ukraine, however, is about the control of natural resources, including uranium and other minerals, as well as geopolitical issues such as Ukraine's membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
The Dnieper-Donets basin is almost entirely in Ukraine, and it is the principal producer of hydrocarbons in that country. A small southeastern part of the basin is in Russia.
Ukraine's geographic position and proximity to Russia explain its importance as a natural gas and petroleum liquids transit country.
Both powers are motivated by the desire to ensure that a geostrategically pivotal country with respect to control of critical energy pipeline routes remains in their own sphere of influence.
Ukraine's Fuel Minister Eduard Stavitsky, Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych, Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Royal Dutch Shell CEO Peter Voser shake hands after exchanging a signed agreement at the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 24, 2013.
Ukraine signed a shale gas exploitation deal with Royal Dutch Shell on 25 January 2013. The $10 billion deal was the largest foreign direct investment ever for Ukraine.
Major Chevron shale gas deal in Kiev
Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt greet Petro Poroshenko, John Kerry in the background, on June 4, 2014
The United States offered its diplomatic support, with Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, saying, "I'm very determined to cooperate with the Ukrainian government in strengthening Ukraine's energy independence." ... U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Victoria Nuland spoke at an international business conference sponsored by Chevron on Dec. 13, 2013, after just returning from Kiev where she handed out cookies and sandwiches to demonstrators on the Maidan. In her speech, she urged Ukraine to sign a new deal with the IMF which would "send a positive signal to private markets and would increase foreign direct investment that is so urgently needed in Ukraine."
New Cold War
Luo Jie - Terrible Shadow
It is clear that all of these oil and gas companies - backed by their governments, including those of the Russian Federation and the United States - are deeply embroiled in the Ukrainian crisis, with much invested and much at stake. But with their disproportionate influence over Ukraine's future, it should be kept in mind that the number one responsibility of any corporation is to increase profit margins for its shareholders, not necessarily to promote the democracy or sovereignty of the countries they are operating in.