Saturday, 9 August 2008

Russia's invasion of Georgia and the reaction of the BBC

It's odd, when the US lead force invaded Iraq to rid the Country of Saddam Hussein the BBC was awash with "experts" and pundits explaining how this is all about oil. Yet when the Russians invade Georgia the word "oil" is not heard. Yet this invasion really is about oil.

In case you are not aware, Georgian oil can flow out of that country in two ways, either through Turkey and hence into Europe or through Russia. Putin wants to ensure that as much of the world's oil as possible flows through Russia's pipelines so he can have as much bargaining power and control over Europe's power supply. The Georgians know that their independence relies as much as anything on the continued use of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, a pipeline that connects the Caspian Sea's oilfields to Baku, then to Tbilisi and finally onto the Haydar Aliyev oil Terminal in the Turkish port of Ceyhan. There is also the South Caucus pipeline that transports natural gas along a similar route.

The excuses for this war are less convincing than the truth, yet they are still made and believed by many. As the BBC endlessly reminds us, Georgia is considering joining NATO, a move that Russia considers provocative. The BBC seem to think that this "provocation" in some way excuses Russia so as to invade a sovereign country and kill hundreds of people. Georgia is also at the very early stage of discussions to join the EU, they have as much a claim to do so as Turkey, and that again is described as a threat to Russia.

My fears are that this is not a one-off; control over Georgia's oil so that it was all being pumped through the Russian system would mean that the next country on the list would be under threat and that country is probably Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has the 11th largest oil reserves in the world and most of its oil currently flows through Russian pipelines, however a deal has been done to build a pipeline to and through China, and Russia is unlikely to allow that to happen.

There are many other interesting angles to the Georgian oil story; there is even an Israeli connection as it has been proposed that oil from the BTC pipeline may be transported to eastern Asia via the Israeli oil terminals at Ashkelon and Eilat

However the key point is that Putin wants all of those south and central Asian countries oil to be fed into the Russian system and so be under his control.

I heard someone on Radio 4's Question Time last night saying that this invasion was all the West's fault (especially the Americans) for being so triumphalist at the ending of the Cold War and by humiliating Russia. These are very similar to the excuses that were made in the early 1930s for Nazi Germany; Germany was humiliated after the First World War by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles and so it is understandable that they want to assert themselves and invade Austria, the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia etc.

What do I think will happen from here? I believe that Russia will not stop until they have control of Georgia's oil. The EU countries will do nothing other than protest gently, as they need Russian oil and gas and are scared of upsetting their supplier. The US will support the Georgian army by way of supplying them with ammunition and parts for the US equipped more modern part of their army but will not get involved militarily. Once Russia has control of Georgia's oil, Putin will look eastwards, if I was a government minister in Astana I would be very worried right now.

To reduce the West's dependence on Rusia I strongly believe that oil exploration in Alaska and the extraction of Canada's huge shale-oil reserves be made a priority. The West cannot rely on oil and gas supplied by mostly vile Middle Eastern dictatorships and a militarily resurgent Russia.


Anonymous said...

I've certainly read elsewhere that Georgian oil can flow through Russia, but the attached map link doesn't seem to show a pipeline from Georgia through Russia. From Azerbaijan, yes, but that would require the oil to flow backwards from Georgia!

Any ideas, or haven't I looked at the right maps?

Anonymous said...

riddler - > georgia doesnt have oil or gas. its a transit country for the oil/gas flowing from azerbaijan and the port of Baku....

thus it is of vital strategic importance to Russia, in terms of it gaining a stranglehold on energy flows into western europe.

Anonymous said...

What shocks me the most is the US reaction to all of this. Im thinking....Bush Eisenhower. Russia has GOT to be STOPPED!!
There has even been talk in Russia of attempting to redploy nuclear armed bombers in Cuban airbases!
I firmly believe that despite their sabre-rattling they really WILL think twice about having to actually confront the US on the battlefield. I belive that the US should threaten military intervention and BACK IT UP by sending warplane-including strategic bombers-to the region.
This is an oppertunity for the US to flex its muscles and send a message to the Russians that their have to be some consquences and that American has HAD ENOUGH!
One option, which many people will call be crazy for, is the possibility of redeploying missiles in Turkey and/or Eastern Europe aimed at Russia.

Anonymous said...

Since the end of the cold war the United States has been spat upon, criticized, and demeaned by those very nations that they protected for 60 years. Russia and China are reemerging as world powers and the world forgets they are totalitarian regimes and no one, I repeat no one but the Americans can stand up to them. But they do so at their own peril while building perilous deficits, losing their manufacturing base, and watching millions of illegals subject their country to ungodly demands for goods and services wehich the kindly Americans provide with little or no complaint.

I wish they would pull out of Nato, sign agreements with those nations like England, Japan, and Australia who had guts enough to stand with them and then tell the rest of the world to go to hell and return to their own territories while sitting behind their nuclear umbrella. Then they should place the world on notice that if someone cuts off their oil, they will destroy their oil fields. If they are attacked by terrorist they will retaliate against those nations that support terrorisim. And they should default on the T-Bills that have financed their protecting the world for the past 65 years and caused such enormopus deficits that are ruining their economy. And then they should sit back and simply state: Remember the old adage: "Watch what you wish for, you might just get it!

Anonymous said...

Nice article.
Thx for posting.
Maybe I will link to it on one of my pages.

Anonymous said...