Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Russia Threatens Georgia: Oil Pipeline & NATO Member, Part IIship Both Vex Russkies

Alan Philips says the Ossetians are descended from the Alans, and I have heard they speak an Iranian dialect. Were the Alans part of the Achaemonian Empire? I do know from reading Simon Montefiori that Stalin was fascinated with the Iranian Safavid Dynasty, which ruled Georgia in the 17th-18th c. & adopted some Iranian "governance" methods to further his purposes. In a word, poisoning, which Mr. Djugashvili passed onto his protege Vlad "The Empoisoner" Putin. And Lavrenti Beria was part Abkhaz by ethnic background. So the Russians have a love-hate relationship with that tiny republic, mostly hate.

But Philips has a good summary worth noting:
It is often said that Russia is a riddle wrapped inside an enigma. But the story of Vladimir Putin is really quite simple. In 1997 he wrote a doctoral thesis on the need for greater state control over Russia's raw materials; his presidency ended with a campaign of harassment of the oil company BP, seemingly designed to force it to cede control of its Russian joint venture TNK-BP to Russian interests.

It is tempting to see the Russian actions in Georgia as a continuing campaign against BP. The oil company is 30 per cent owner of a pipeline that crosses Georgian territory on its way to Turkey and Western markets. But despite reports - not confirmed - of the Russian air force attacking the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, this is not an oil war.

"In Russia, politics still trumps economics. The Russians have accepted that the pipeline exists. This is more about punishing Georgia for daring to try to join Nato," says James Nixey, a Russian expert at Chatham House.

I disagree, and plan to buy Petrostate by Marshall Goldman, whom I knew back in my State Dept. days. Putin has the cowering Krauts by the metaphorical throat with the so-called oxymoronic "Friendship Pipeline" & if he gains control over the BTC, will discourage investment in another loop adding Kazakh crude & Turkmeni gas [currently landlocked & under Russian economic captivity] an outlet to the Black Sea and the Med at Ceyhan. The Turks want to build an LNG terminal in Ceyhan & ship the LNG to parts of EU-nuchland currently cowering under Soviets, oops, Russian economic control.

But NATO is Russia's biggest bug-a-boo & I recommend reading all of Philips for an interesting perspective.

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