When Igor Sechin, Russia’s vice premier, arrived in Washington last week on his first visit to the United States – with hardly a fortnight to go for the inauguration of the Vladimir-Putin’s ‘second coming’ as president – it makes the American side sit up and think hard. Equally, speculations of a ‘new cold war’ take hard beating when ‘The Kremlin’s Oil Man’, as Forbes magazine once profiled him, becomes the chosen flag-carrier in the barricades. Welcome to Putin Presidency 2.0 in Russia.
Especially when Sechin drops hints to his highly charged American audience in Washington drawn from Big Oil that Moscow would be open to greater international participation in its oil industry. Why ‘highly-charged’? Because, he was indirectly referring to a new partnership between Russian oil and gas company Rosneft and its US rival ExxonMobil, which he openly described as “a long-term collaboration, which would be extended for decades – 30, 40 or 50 years.”
The American side has gone gaga. The AP viewed the Rosneft-ExxonMobil joint venture aspotentially investing 500 billion dollars for exploration and production of oil in the Arctic and the Black Sea. The deal, by the way, was signed on Monday at Putin’s suburban residence.
Putin never really ceases to surprise, isn’t it, in his single-minded tryst with Russia’s destiny as a great power ? China probably expected he would finalize Russia’s long-awaited gas deal with Beijing – settling the differences over pricing – as one of the first acts of his presidency. But then, he approves a mammoth energy deal with America. (He may still have the China gas deal.)
And, to swiftly follow-up on Monday’s deal, he deputed Sechin to go and spread the word, ‘Russians are coming’. “We’ll give jobs to hundreds of thousands of people”, Sechin told Wall Street Journal. Now, how could US president Barack Obama miss out on the momentous nature of Putin’s message for the American economy? He could of course check out further on the immense potentials of the US-Russia reset, when Putin arrives at Camp David in exactly a month from now to attend the G8 summit.
Is there something India shouldn’t miss out? Indian business should realize that Russian market is bestirring and making itself investor -friendly in anticipation of Putin Presidency 2.0.
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