Nicholas Perry, PES Ltd
Russian military doctrine would encourage Gazprom to ‘think in 4-D’, to move swiftly, unexpectedly, and on multiple axes, to ‘condition the battlefield’ in its favour. To deliver tactical surprise, even when no strategic surprise is possible. To manoeuvre; to bypass resistance, to abandon units that have served their purpose, to avoid coalitions and drive wedges between opposing groupings. Can anyone doubt that, over the past year or so, it has been doing exactly these things ? Time taken to master this perspective may be well repaid.
Will Gazprom succeed ? It cannot fail to have a measure of success, given the gas resources it commands and the premium currently placed upon gas. But a fall in oil and gas prices could be a serious setback. “Russia is never as strong as she looks; Russia is never as weak as she looks”, as Talleyrand is supposed to have said. The military perspective is just one of several that can be taken. But governments and companies can put themselves at unnecessary disadvantage if they ignore it.
There is much gas and money at stake. Some aspects of the relationship between buyer and seller are inevitably win-lose. The energy security of the western world is not comfortably left to amateur strategists. If we ignore the tenets of doctrinally coherent strategising, we should not complain when those who study and practise it diligently score heavily against us.