WikiLeaks: Minister feared spies at helm of Russian energy giant
BRITISH anxiety about Russia's tightening grip on Europe's energy supplies is revealed in leaked US diplomatic cables obtained by The Scotsman.
The Wikileaks cables show that Britain believed the Russian gas giant Gazprom was being run by former Russian intelligence service chiefs, to further Russian influence.
Classified as "confidential", one cable details a candid meeting in September 2008 between the UK's then secretary of state for business, John Hutton, and Jeff Kupfer, US deputy secretary of energy.
The cable reports Labour politician Mr Hutton, who now sits in the House of Lords, "stated that the EU is never going to speak with one voice on energy security, pointing out that each country has dealt with supply issues independently. He pointed to the fact that Gazprom's board was former Federal Security Service. These factors, Hutton said, contributed to the EU's feeble response to the Russian invasion of Georgia".
The papers went on to say that Mr Hutton "expressed concern that European Union moves to break up big energy companies in Eastern European countries - known in the industry as 'unbundling' - would play into Russia's hands and put these countries under greater Russian influence.
"(Hutton] said that Eastern European governments fear that their assets will be purchased by Gazprom if they are forced to unbundle. However, they are also afraid to say no to the Russians if offers are made.
"Eastern Europeans need the European Commission to provide cover for them to keep Gazprom from purchasing their transmission assets."
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