Always Russia’s Man in Ukraine: Dmytro Firtash and the Gas Lobby

Last month’s decision by an Austrian court to grant the request of the Department of Justice to deport Ukrainian gas oligarch Dmytro Firtash to stand trial in the US will have enormous consequences for Ukrainian politics. Ukraine’s current President Petro Poroshenko and the last three – Viktor Yanukovych, Viktor Yushchenko and Leonid Kuchma – have and continue to have close corrupt ties to Firtash.

Throughout the history of Ukraine’s independence, Western experts, intelligence services and diplomats have always possessed more information about the leaders of Ukraine’s gas lobby than have the country’s presidents, prosecutor-generals and Security Service (SBU). The reason for this is because the Ukrainian side always covered up how little it allegedly knew and because its work was politically driven. When President Yushchenko ordered the SBU to investigate who was behind the gas intermediary RosUkrEnergo (RUE) US Ambassador William Taylor offered to tell him and President Vladimir Putin leaked the information to the Russian government newspaper.

Trump’s Reset with Russia will Again Fail

The unexpected election of Donald Trump as president has brought shockwaves in the US and throughout the world with headlines talking of a ‘crises in foreign policy’ (link). His victory is allegedly a ‘boost to Putin’ (link). Trump’s election campaign rhetoric certainly merits caution in his domestic policies.

During the election campaign, Trump was heavily criticised for having close ties to Russia and saying positive words for Russian President Vladimir Putin. US intelligence agencies accused Russia of hacking into Hilary Clinton’s campaign and working for Trump’s victory. Former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell described Trump as an ‘unwitting agent of Russia’ (link). Russian State Duma deputies applauded his election (link).  Nevertheless, an improvement in relations between nuclear powers US and Russia is unlikely to take place for seven reasons.