Interview with Rosneft President Igor Sechin: Russia Didn’t Initiate the Ukraine Crisis, part 1

Published on Spiegel Online International, by Gerald Traufetter and Matthias Schepp, Sept 2, 2014.

Igor Sechin, head of the oil giant Rosneft, is considered by many to be the second most powerful man in Russia. In an interview, he speaks with SPIEGEL about natural gas deliveries to Europe, the Ukraine crisis and the damage caused by economic sanctions … //

… SPIEGEL: Igor Ivanovich, the US government has placed you on the sanctions list and has blocked Rosneft from receiving oil drilling technology from the West. How bothered are you by the fact that you are no longer welcome in the US and Europe?

  • Sechin: Neither I nor my company have anything to do with the crisis in Ukraine. As such, there is no foundation for the sanctions against me and Rosneft. They represent a violation of international law. Rosneft is an international corporation with stockholders in America, Europe and Asia. After the Russian state, BP is our biggest stakeholder with a 20 percent holding. As such, the sanctions also affect our Western partners. I find it curious that Rosneft is on this list even though we work more closely together with American and European companies than any other Russian firm.

SPIEGEL: How painful are the sanctions against Rosneft and Russia?

  • Sechin: The oil reserves that we are able to tap with the means available to us today are enough for 20 years. The sanctions will not prevent us from fulfilling our supply contracts. The technology affected by the sanctions is related to future projects. Incidentally, I would like to quote an expert. Juan Zarate, who was an advisor to President George W. Bush, writes in his book “Treasury’s War” that America is waging a new kind of war. It is being waged without military attacks, preferring instead to make opponents suffer financially.

SPIEGEL: Are you trying to say that America has declared such a war on Russia in response to the Ukraine conflict?

  • Sechin: I’m just quoting him. Early on, the American geostrategist Zbigniew Brzenzinski warned Europe against turning to Moscow. He was referring to the natural gas pipeline deals between Russia and Germany. He wrote that the US should not tolerate a geopolitically united Europe that might challenge America. That would happen, he wrote, were Europeans to realize that Russia is their natural economic partner.

SPIEGEL: Despite the war in eastern Ukraine and the sanctions, Russian-American economic relations when it comes to oil seem to be quite good. Rosneft and the American concern ExxonMobil just opened an oil platform together in the Arctic. President Vladimir Putin even took part in the ceremonies via video link … //

… SPIEGEL: You spoke of the vengefulness that becomes an element in economic warfare. Is there a possibility that Europeans might find themselves sitting in cold houses this winter because Russia has shut off deliveries of natural gas and oil?

  • Sechin: Everyone ends up sitting where they want to. But don’t worry, only the uninformed could believe such a thing were possible. Rosneft and other Russian companies will adhere strictly to their supply contracts, which are safeguarded by credits and contractual penalties. That is why contracts exist. As an internationally traded company, Rosneft is listed on the London Stock Exchange and adheres to its standards.

SPIEGEL: Are you concerned that Europe might buy less of its oil and natural gas from Russia in the future?

  • Sechin: Just like every customer, Europe has the right to decide on its own. But Europe has an advantage over competitors in that it can rely on cheap Russian energy reserves. Currently, there is a lot of talk about shale gas and other new exploitation technologies. But they would make gas more expensive for European consumers. I am sure of that. Ignoring advantages is irrational.

SPIEGEL: Has your cooperation with German companies like Siemens been negatively affected by the sanctions?

  • Sechin: No, the gas turbines and control systems that we buy do not fall under the resolutions. But in the first half of this year, our imports of technology from Germany as a whole have sunk by 15 percent. Nevertheless, there isn’t a deficit of such machinery in Russia. American and Asian companies have been more than happy to fill the void. Certainly, Germany produces quality drilling rigs and pipeline systems. But if Germany doesn’t want to deliver, we’ll just buy in South Korea or China. If Germany’s goal is that of preventing its own companies from earning money, then go ahead.

SPIEGEL: At the end of last year, Rosneft closed a $270 billion deal with China. Is Rosneft turning toward Asia?

  • … answer on part 2 …

(full interview text).

Part 2: Yukos’ Path to the Top Was Paved with Corpses.

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Other Links:

Discrimination: Minority Mortgage Market Experiences Leading Up to and During the Financial Crisis, on naked capitalism, by David Dayen, Sept 3, 2014;

Huarong’s Shadow Bank Bailout: This Changes Everything, on naked capitalism, by David Dayen, Sept 3, 2014;

Another war in the name of humanitarianism: we don’t fight men, we fight monsters, on The Guardian, by Jeeff Sparrow, Sept 3, 2014: Humanitarian interventionists dangerously present each crisis as a morality tale: our enemies commit atrocities out of pure malice, whereas we always mean well …;

Wages of US workers by wage percentile 1979-2013, on RWER Blog, by David Ruccio, Sept 2, 2014;

False Solutions: the Islamic State, the Kurds and Generational War, on Dissident Voice, by Binoy Kampmark, Sept 2, 2014;

Scots voting no to independence would be an astonishing act of self-harm, on The Guardian, by George Monbiot, Sept 2, 2014: England is dysfunctional, corrupt and vastly unequal. Who on earth would want to be tied to such a country? …;

Fighting breaks out along Syrian border, with captured Fiji troops nearby, on Jerusalem Post, by Reuters, Sept 2, 2014: A heavy firefight erupts between the Syrian army and Islamist rebels, along the Syrian border with Israel … // … on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, where 44 peacekeepers from Fiji are being held by militants and scores of their fellow blue helmets from the Philippines escaped after resisting capture …;

… and this:

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