EU-Russia energy dialogue
Consequently, I'm immersed in myriads of documents pertaining to energy, most of which point to the fact that the EU has extremely limited bargaining chips in its negotiations for more favorable energy deals with Russia (surprise, surprise). Nevertheless, that doesn't seem to stop the EU from grandiose prognostications of immense future success, overwhelming optimism about the partnership, and platitudes regarding the state of the dialogue.
None of this really adds up when the current situation is taken into account.
My short and dirty take on it: Russia was willing to concede some points back around 2004, so as to not jeopardize its relationship with the accession countries, which are largely entirely dependent on Russia for oil and gas. By allowing the removal of destination clauses and other mechanisms of that ilk from long term supply contracts, Russia placated a nervous EU. Now, with oil prices remaining high, and Russia's economic position strengthening, Russia is blocking further discussions that might lead to a more genuine partnership between the two powers. Why give in to the EU when it keeps bringing up pesky human rights issues in the middle of discussions purportedly about energy?
Russia's got the upper hand. It's got the resources. Europe doesn't. Europe needs the resources. Western Europe is willing to let things slide. Eastern Europe isn't. They joined the EU to get away from Russia - and they're not going to give in to Russia that easily.
Long-run: unless the EU finds a way to give Russia a seat at the negotiating table, nothing much is going to happen. The EU can't just dictate energy policy for Russia, since Russia has no interest in accession to the EU. Does the legal structure of the EU allow for this? Stay tuned...