Saturday, August 25, 2007

Russia Threatens Georgia: 8000 lb Elephant is Oil Pipeline

Russia is reverting to its old bad habits, although alcoholism and AIDS no longer drive Russian paranoia and grandiosity. Its booming economy should start to sober up the regime of Vlad the Empoisoner and his putative successor Ivanov. But in the meantime, Russia is lobbing missiles and making night attacks into Georgia using its traditional brutal tactics to blackmail Georgia into submission.

Without getting into details, the WSJ article does bury the lede in para 20 or something:
"When Russia cut off gas supplies, we had to work on developing new sources. So we're developing hydro-power and coal and nuclear energy. Next year, we'll be fully supplied by Azerbaijani power. . . . Everyone said we'd never survive but our success gives confidence to everyone else."

Mr. Saakashvili notes that his country had to diversify its markets anyway. "Georgia's natural strength is its role as a crossroads both culturally and geographically. It was always a kind of bridge on the old Silk Road. So we're building up our highway system; we're completing our rail link from Batoumi to Istanbul through to Europe; we've got the new international airport there.

"Eastwards we're connecting all the way to China via a ferry across the Caspian. It will offer an alternative to the trans-Siberian railway. And of course, the same goes for pipelines such as the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline which goes through Georgia."

Energy and its availability from Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan is the chief motive driving Russia's strong-arm tactics, and its traditional "light-touch diplomacy" as with the threat last week on Czech anti-missile installations will remain the Russian style as long as pint-size czarovitch Putin is in command---which will be beyond his stepping down as president next year.

If he does.

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