King Solomon and the Russia-Ukraine
Natural Gas Dispute


Early on Wednesday, Ukraine shut the last trickle of Russian natural gas in transit to Europe across Ukrainian territory.

The Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin immediately notified his colleague in the Czech presidency of the European Union Mirek Topolanek that Ukraine was facing a full Russian cut-off if it didn’t reverse its move.

The Ukrainians ignored the warning, and at a subsequent meeting with Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller in St Petersburg, the Russian Premier okayed a proposal to halt the flow of Russian natural gas into Ukraine:

- Mr Putin before you approves the proposal. The cut-off should be implemented in the full glare of the media and in the presence of international observers at Gazprom’s export facilities.

A bit later on Wednesday, Mr Putin discussed the matter with the shareholders organizer of the Nord Stream project for a Russian gas pipe across the Baltic Sea, the former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. He supported an initiative by Chancellor Angela Merkel for independent international monitoring of the gas flow to Europe across Russia and Ukraine. Mr Schroeder praised this country for unequivocal commitment to safeguarding the security of Europe’s energy flow.

Symptomatically, Ukraine has been stubbornly declining the monitoring initiative. Speaking in Prague, Euro-Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso warned it not to expect close ties with the EU if it continued to impede gas trade.

Gazprom meantime is intensifying the flow of its natural gas through export pipelines across Byelorussia to Poland and across the Black Sea to Turkey. It’s also mobilizing reserves in underground storage in Europe.

Report from Vladislav Chernukha.

This dispute reminds me of the biblical story of King Solomon

Solomon Makes a Difficult Decision

16 One day two women (w 3.16 women: Hebrew “prostitutes.”) came to King Solomon, 17 and one of them said:

Your Majesty, this woman and I live in the same house. Not long ago my baby was born at home, 18 and three days later her baby was born. Nobody else was there with us.

19 One night while we were all asleep, she rolled over on her baby, and he died. 20 Then while I was still asleep, she got up and took my son out of my bed. She put him in her bed, then she put her dead baby next to me. 21 In the morning when I got up to feed my son, I saw that he was dead. But when I looked at him in the light, I knew he wasn't my son.

22 “No!” the other woman shouted. “He was your son. My baby is alive!”

“The dead baby is yours,” the first woman yelled. “Mine is alive!”

They argued back and forth in front of Solomon, 23 until finally he said, “Both of you say this live baby is yours. 24 Someone bring me a sword.” A sword was brought, and Solomon ordered, 25 “Cut the baby in half! That way each of you can have part of him.”

26 “Please don't kill my son,” the baby's mother screamed. “Your Majesty, I love him very much, but give him to her. Just don't kill him.”

The other woman shouted, “Go ahead and cut him in half. Then neither of us will have the baby.”

27 Solomon said, “Don't kill the baby.” Then he pointed to the first woman, “She is his real mother. Give the baby to her.”

28 Everyone in Israel was amazed when they heard how Solomon had made his decision. They realized that God had given him wisdom to judge fairly.

Bible, CEV (Contemporary English Version), 1 Kings 3:16-28

In the story Russia is the "mother of the living baby." Ukraine is the "mother of the dead baby." Ukraine fails to pay its gas bills and Russia threatens to cut off the flow of natural gas piped to Ukraine which Russia does in January of 2009 saying it will, however, continue shipping gas through Ukraine to the EU. When the EU fails to receive gas shipments, Russia says that Ukraine has stolen gas meant for the EU. Ukraine says that this is not true. Then Russia shuts down all natural gas into Ukraine. When it is suggested that transit of natural gas from Russia across Ukraine be subject to "independent international monitoring," Ukraine stubbornly declines this initiative and EU countries are left in the cold. Who is the wise king? Hopefully the leaders in the EU countries will see what is happening behind the scenes.