Russia tried to use natural gas as a weapon against Ukraine, and failed. Western Europe receives about a quarter of its natural gas from Russia, via pipelines that run through Ukraine. Ukraine gets all of its natural gas via these pipelines. But Ukraine, as it did when it was part of the Soviet Union, paid only about a fifth of the world price. However, since the new Ukrainian government is pro-West (seen as anti-Russia by the Russians), the Russians are demanding the Ukrainians pay market price. On January 1st, as promised, Russia stopped shipping natural gas to Ukraine, because Ukraine refused to pay market price. However, the Ukrainians simply took what they wanted, without admitting it, from the natural gas intended for West European customers (who promptly complained). About three quarters of the natural gas passing through Ukraine is intended for West European customers. Not wanting to anger their West European customers, the Russians began sending the Ukrainians their usual amount of natural gas. The end result will probably be Ukrainians even more eager to hook up with Western Europe and join NATO. But the Russians are now intent on building a new natural gas pipeline that bypasses Ukraine.
January 2, 2006: In Dagestan, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives near the funeral for a policeman killed by terrorists. The timing was off, and only the terrorist bomber was killed.
January 1, 2006: Police in Dagestan are finding, and fighting, more Chechen and Dagestani Islamic radicals. The fighting is not as widespread as it was in Chechnya, but the Islamic militants are trying to terrorize Dagestani police and government officials into backing off, and leaving the terrorists to operate bases for operations in Chechnya. The Russians are not letting this happen so far, despite a lot of scared Dagestani police and officials.
December 27, 2005: In Dagestan, Islamic terrorists killed the son of a senior official. It is believed the official himself was the target.