Book Review POLITICS OF ENERGY DEPENDENCY: UKRAINE, BELARUS, AND LITHUANIA BETWEEN DOMESTIC OLIGARCHS AND RUSSIAN PRESSURE
Andrej Nosko, Margarita Balmaceda
Drawing extensively on her previous work (Balmaceda 2008a; Balmaceda 2008b; Balmaceda 2006) covering corruption in the oil and natural gas sectors in Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania, here Margarita M. Balmaceda sets out ambitious goals. The book examines examines sectors in Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania, here Margarita M. Balmaceda sets oue, Belarus and Lithuania. Subsequently, building upon that, it analyses how their energy security has been influenced by domestic factors in the management
... rents of 'energy dependency', as well as by the role of 'energy groups in these countries' own post-independence political development' (p.4). The book consists of three parts, the first of which provides a shared background for the three case studies, the setting of the proposed explanation of variations among the countries. The second part offers three detailed empirical case studies covering Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania, and the third part offers conclusions drawn from the three cases. The study investigates two problems: first, the fact that despite achieving their independence from the USSR more than fifteen years previously, it was not until 2007-8 that these countries first took measures to diversify their energy supply in order to reduce their reliance on Russia. The author calls this an 'inability to take actions against their overwhelming dependency on Russia' (p.4). The second problem informing this book is the three states' varying approach to diversification and stability of energy transit policies. In this regard, two hypotheses are discussed; the first positing that 'domestic institutions matter in the management of energy dependency' and the second that 'who the beneficiaries from patterns of energy trade are has long-term political effects'. The author draws an intricate causal path from the nature of a political system to the style of management of energy dependency through five intermediary aspects: a) the transparency of markets; b) the existence of a transparent and democratically controlled energy policy; c) a leader's negotiating space vis-à-vis foreign partners; d) a system of interest articulation; e) and access to and use of energy rents (p. 16ff). These five elements, according to the author, influence connections between domestic politics and the management of energy dependence. These connections in turn influence the style of the management of energy dependence. The proposed causal model spirals from relations between the independent variable of the nature of the political system to the influence of energy policy, which in turn feeds back and influences the political system. This explanatory apparatus not only lacks parsimony but at times looks tautological, when the political system in the individual countries is both the phenomenon to be explained and the explanation offered. The relationship between the system of interest representation, party system fragmentation and how these influence management of energy dependence is of real interest. Nonetheless, the reviewed book does not get beyond interesting but at times tedious empirical minutiae to provide clear disentanglement of their mutual causal relations.