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U.S. shale gas is undermining Russia's Putin

By Jim Mackinnon Published: May 1, 2013

The glut of cheap natural gas coming out of U.S. shale is derailing Gazprom, Russia's energy giant.

Walter Russell Mead at Via Meadia, his blog at The American Interest, notes a Wall Street Journal story that Gazprom has had to negotiate lower prices in its contracts with other nations.

Mead: "Vladimir Putin’s plans for reclaiming Great Power status for Russia are predicated on the country’s continuing strong economic performance, and the energy sector is key.

"Gazprom accounts for more than 10 percent of the country’s exports, and hits to its bottom line this year, the WSJ speculates, will cause Russia to miss Putin’s target of 5 percent annual growth.

"Putin’s hardball tactics in his near-abroad when Russia was energy top dog were instrumental in confirming him as an authoritarian bully in the minds of many Westerners. These tactics also inadvertently made Russia more vulnerable to shifts in the global energy market, with many of its main customers desperately seeking out alternative suppliers so that they would never find themselves backed into a corner again"

Read Mead's full piece here.

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