It was hardly a surprise when Prime Ministers Vladimir Putin and Yulia Tymoshenko, both dressed in black, solemnly announced an agreement to end the Russian-Ukrainian gas conflict in the wee hours of Sunday.
What this self-defeating "war" has demonstrated, however, is that Russia's foreign policy and energy interests could go cross-purpose with those of Gazprom.
The devastating impact of the global economic crisis is forcing all countries to build joint defensive mechanisms and coordinate rescue policies; the last thing Russia needs in this high-risk environment is to set itself apart from its European partners as a predator that is eager to take advantage of the weak. Gazprom may have an interest in partaking in a consortium that could take control over Ukraine's gas infrastructure, but Russia's interests are hardly served by pushing its most important neighbor to bankruptcy. Putin has been too passionately involved in fighting with Gazprom's enemies to notice that the Russians are not particularly moved by his victory and probably suspect that they have come out as the losers.