Ukraine: Choosing a New Way

January 17, 2010

When we get Russian gas, the problem is not the supplier, but the fact that 80 percent of the pipeline is located in the Ukraine. We should look for independence not from Russia, but from such transit schemes,” (Gerhard Schroeder)

Just after 2004 Orange Revolution Ukraine took course towards Nato and EU, the new leadership had popular backing to fulfil fast forward hopes its policy. Instead of the fast forward progress scenarios the outcome has been a totally different crisis scenarios including possible confrontation between Ukraine and Russia in Crimea due the Black Sea Fleet, a new dispute over the supply of Russian natural gas to and via Ukraine, different ethnic tensions with minorities and of course declining economy with all social impact.

The dominant factor in Ukrainian political life has been the inability of political leaders – President Victor Yushchenko and his prime ministers – to work together to promote high-flown ideas. Now however the course is changing again in January elections. According different opinion polls President Yushchenko will lose the game already on first round and the winner of second round early February will probably have a pragmatic approach towards Russia and potential to implement more balanced policy. Ukraine is likely to pursue a more modest pace in developing its relations with NATO, a more measured tone on support for Georgia, and more moderate relations with Russia.

Ethnic tensions

Internally Ukraine has a big divide between the Russian friendly and ethnic Russian regions against the more westward looking regions. There is ethnic tensions also between central government and the (Trans-Carpathian) Rusins – an East Slavic people that is the indigenous population of the Carpathian Mountains; the Crimean Tatars and nowadays also with supporters of radical Islam. An of course there is some 9-17 million Russians in country total population of 46 million.

During Yushchenko’s presidency Ukraine has been eager towards Nato membership; same time there has been speculations what will the near future foresee after 2017 for the Russian fleet in Sevastopol? In the worst case the situation might even instigate or support an effort by Crimea to break away from Ukraine. The new president probably is ready to end these speculations.

It is also possible that despite results in election separatist movements are gaining more support and one compromise can be creation some kind of federation with strong minority rights which also can block Ukraine’s former western dreams.

From Subject to Object

From my viewpoint Ukraine has during last presidency lost its regional importance mostly due the geopolitical energy game. GUUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova) Group was founded 1999 with help of US to foster favourable conditions conducive to economic growth through development of an Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor. GUUAM was dominated by Anglo-American oil interests, ultimately purports to exclude Russia from oil and gas deposits in the Caspian area, as well as isolating Moscow politically.

Now GUUAM is coming to end of its short road. Already earlier Uzbekistan withdraws from it leaving behind a stump GUAM. Then Georgia started its aggressions with false idea of western support leading today’s situation. Moldova was aiming towards Nato and EU but after conflict in Georgia it started to look other alternatives. Political attitudes of Azerbaijan and Russia have approached each other. Russia again took the initiative acting as a mediator between Armenia and Azerbaijan to solve long term conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh. The last piece of GUUAM is Ukraine and also this last fortress has degenerated to stagnation. More e.g. in article “Is GUUAM dead?

The adventure after Orange revolution in foreign policy issues finally lead to situation where Ukraine turned from a subject of politics into an object of (geo)politics.

Energy game

One of the real parts of Euro-Asian Oil Transportation Corridor is the Odessa-Brody oil pipeline from Ukraine to Poland for transportation oil from Caspian Sea region to Baltic Sea. However completed in 2001 up to Brody near the Polish border, that pipeline remained empty for three years. In 2004, Russian oil companies began to transfer oil from Brody to Odessa instead of original from East to West plan. However, Ukraine still looks to extend this pipeline so that it can carry Azerbaijani oil arriving from the Georgian port of Supsa to Odessa and then take it to the Polish refinery at Plock and potentially to the port of Gdansk. Some 500 kilometres of pipeline have to be built for that to happen. Meantime other players have been taken more and more Azerbaijan’s energy resources for other markets.

The latest gas dispute made it clear that Ukraine is not reliable transmitter of Russian gas to Europe. This boosted EU’s Nabucco –plan to new level. The same is true also with Russia’s South Stream pipe line. The both pipelines are bypassing Ukraine. When implemented – probably until 2015 – the new line(s) are invalidating the significance of Ukraine as transit route of energy. Turkey is taking this role as most important energy hub for Europe. More e.g. in article “The Nabucco-South Stream race intensifies”.

Declining economy

For a short-sighted and selfish political motivation (the weakening of Russia and its sphere of influence) of West has helped divide and devastate Ukraine. However the EU can’t afford Ukraine economically, geographically and politically, nevertheless in an attempt to weaken Russia EU attempted to lure it away form the Kremlin’s sphere of influence. The result has been economic catastrophe for Ukraine which has seen significant rises in its gas and oil bills along with other economic misfortunes.

The unsolved economic and social difficulties accompany the young state since its declaration of independence. The outbreak of the world economic crisis in 2007/08 with its financial and industrial breakdown accelerated and deepened these problems such as a general credit crunch, an enormous devaluation of the currency, a decline of production following the decline of steel-prices on the world-market and a remarkable reduction of foreign-trade which effects are reflecting from one side the integration of the country into the market economy and Ukraine’s peripheral position from the other side.

Despite the greatest media freedom Ukraine has position 155 in press freedom and is described as partly free in Freedom House survey. Threats, harassment, and attacks against the media continued as the country’s weak and politicized criminal justice system failed to protect journalists from regional politicians, businessmen, and criminal groups. Ukraine would definitely be an interesting case study in criminal justice degree courses.

One of the main tasks of the new political leadership is to provide a balanced position between Brussels and Moscow. This may be realistic when the EU same time is searching a possible “third way” between EU member- and non-membership with some innovative model of “privileged partnership” discussed especially with case of Turkey. The model – when first created – could be copied also with some other countries which now are in enlargement process or included in Eastern Partnership program like Ukraine.

Conclusions

Ukraine tried play important role in U.S. backed GUUAM to create East-West transport corridor for energy blocking Russia from Caspian Sea energy resources and isolating Moscow politaically. However Russia implemented its own initiatives making North-South energy corridors stronger and helping to transfer East-West corridor some hundreds of kilometres southwards. As a result GUUAM is nearly dead, both EU’s and Russia’s new pipelines are bypassing Ukraine, Turkey is coming the main energy hub to Europe.

I wait that during this election Ukraine will finally get rid off Mr. Yushchenko already in first round, which will be won by Mr. Yanukovich. However last round will bring victory to Mrs. Timoshenko and so the country will get both pragmatic and charismatic new leader.

The new president in Ukraine will probably have more pragmatic approach towards cooperation with Russia. Ukraine is likely to pursue a more modest pace in developing its relations with NATO, a more measured tone on support for Georgia, and more moderate relations with Russia. The outcome can very well be easing tensions not only in energy policy but with ethnic and military fields too.



Powergame in EU-Russia summit today

November 14, 2008

EU summit meeting with Russia in France is designed to reopen talks on a pact of cooperation after the crisis in relations caused by the Georgia conflict on August 2008. Before meeting hard words have been changed over Kaliningrad missiles, Nato radars and EU/OSCE monitors in Georgia. However the core question can be the energy game. A day before summit EU came out with its supergrid plan and Russia questioning Baltic Pipe. Southern energy corridor is an other battleground.


Power supergrid plan

EU’s Power supergrid plan is partly designed to decrease EU’s dependence about Russian gas. The Timesonline got look about plan and describes it as follows (Source: Timesonline):

The building blocks of the proposed supergrid would be new cables linking North Sea wind farms, and a network patching together the disparate electricity grids of the Baltic region and the countries bordering the Mediterranean, according to a blueprint drawn up by the European Commission. EU states will also be asked to pay for at least two ambitious gas pipelines to bring in supplies from Central Asia and Africa. The plans also call for a Community Gas Ring, or a network allowing EU countries to share supplies if Russia turns off the taps.

The EU Energy Security Plan notes that Europe imports 61 per cent of its gas, a figure projected to rise to 73 per cent by 2020. Russia sells about two-fifths of the total, including the entire supply of several countries.

How the supergrid will work is described in graphic here Source Timesonline  europesupergrid2

Same time in South…

One part of energy game is the southern energy corridor. During 2008 Russia has put also the southern corridor pipeline in doubts. Gazprom has override “Nabucco” with its rival “SouthStream” project. Same time GUUAM Group in Caucasus – cooperation body supported by US energy giants and military-industrial-complex – is breaking up as well rest of US “Silk Road Strategy”. (More about this in my previous artcles ”War on pipes” 9/9/2008 and “Is GUUAM dead” 4/11/2008 from my Archives:Blog)

…and in North

Also a day before Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has questioned the construction of the Nord Stream pipeline for the first time since the signing of the agreement with Germany to establish the gas delivery network, as gas is set to become cheaper along with the drop in oil prices.

“Europe must decide whether it needs this pipeline or not,” Mr Putin told Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen on Wednesday (12 November) at a meeting in Moscow. “If you don’t, we will build liquefaction plants and send gas to world markets, including to European markets. But it will be simply more expensive for you,” he added.

The Baltic states and Poland strongly oppose the project, concerned they would be cut off from existing gas infrastructure with Russia, as Moscow would probably channel most of the gas deliveries through the direct pipeline to Germany. Sweden also opposes the project due to environmental concerns, echoed by MEPs, who have called for a new investigation into the pipeline’s impact on the environment. Finland, one of several EU states that has a say in approving the project, will conduct an environmental review of the plan next year, Mr Vanhanen said after the meeting with his Russian counterpart on Wednesday. (Source EUobserver.com)

So for Baltic states and Poland Nord Stream is more political and partly economical question, for Germany mainly economical topic and for Sweden and Finland mostly environmental question.

The bottom line

It is interesting to see how the power game will be developing. How big share gas, oil and wind will claim from energy markets? Where the pipes will be? How environmental and economical aspects will match with political aims? The game is still open.


Is GUUAM dead?

November 4, 2008

After “Cold War” US has all the while expanded its influence post-Soviet territory with aim to guide those region’s natural resources under US companies.  As stakes have been control over the oil and gas  of the Caspian Sea/Black Sea/Caucasus basin, and the control of multiple key energy pipelines criss-crossing the region.  Economical interests have been linked to political game e.g. Nato enlargement.  While EU has been more bystander Russia has during last couple of years weight down the scale in favour of its own interests by series of successful operations.

GUUAM & SRS

GUUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova) Group was founded 1999 with help of US to foster favourable conditions conducive to economic growth through development of an Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor.  GUUAM was dominated by Anglo-American oil interests, ultimately purports to exclude Russia from oil and gas deposits in the Caspian area, as well as isolating Moscow politically.

From its part GUUAM was designed to support sc. Silk Road Strategy Act – adopted by US Cogress March 1999 –  which defined America’s broad economic and strategic interests in a region extending from the Mediterranean to Central Asia. The Silk Road Strategy (SRS) outlines a framework for the development of America’s business empire through development of an Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor.  (More about this in my previous article “War on Pipes” Sep. 2008, in my Archive:Blog )

Cracks

Now GUUAM is coming to end of its short road.  Already earlier Uzbekistan withdraw from it leaving behind a stump GUAM.  Then Georgia started its aggressions with false idea of western support leading today’s situation and possibility to escalate to “small intensity war” between present Georgian leadership and separatist regions Abkhazia and South-Ossetia.

Moldova was aiming towards Nato and EU but after conflict in Georgia it started to look other alternatives.  Russia has offered its help to solve Moldova’s long term problem with Transdnistria and if a federation model will be accepted by local stakeholders it probably neutralizes Moldova’s position between US/EU and Russia.

Last weekend was also highlight of tendency where political attitudes of Azerbaijan and Russia have approached each other.  Russia again took the initiative acting as a mediator between Armenia and Azerbaijan to solve long term conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh and a common memorandum signed 2nd November 2008 is first step of solution.

The last piece of GUUAM is Ukraine, which is deeply divided pro-Russian East and pro-Nato/EU West.  When political struggle now has made cracks also inside western orientated part also this last fortress has degenerated to stagnation.

KO

Parallel with Russia’s able foreign policy the US actions have been short-sighted, weak and fruitless.  Waiting for elections and financial turmoil have took their part but in energy sector also some states in South-America have now more independent and selfish position than before.  Same time Iraq occupation is coming to end when also Alaska can keep its energy reserves when new US President takes his office the perspectives of US energy giants are more foggy than for a long time.

If one would like to see a bright side with this depression – or even knock out –  of US foreign/energy policy it could be the need to reduce pollutions and to support alternative energy solutions which at global scale could help to deal with clima change.


Powerplay behind the new Cold War

October 21, 2008

Georgia 08/08/08 is the date when headlines in Western mainstream media started to tell how big, bad aggressive Russia attacked to tiny, democratic, good Georgia. After that the West continued accusations about occupation a free sovereign state started rethink enforcing its frontlines around Russian border in new cold war era. Al this despite the fact, that day earlier 7th August 2008 Georgia had started the moths before planned war against its separatist province (look my article “OSCE report fault Georgia – one trivial statement more from EU summit” 4th Sept.2008 from my archives right). All this despite he fact, that USA had already showed the way how to break international law e.g. by bombing Kosovo and orchestrating the quasi-independence of that separatist province.

While speaking about new confrontation between East and West the (mostly western) political commentators have used first nice, warm words like freedom, democracy, sovereignty, humanitarian catastrophe to justify their planned harder actions to response Russia’s aggression. However if we scrub the soft spoke for dummies – sorry for public – we can find the hard reality and bigger game behind recent headlines of Caucasus or Balkan events. I try next to highlight few aspects with this power play.

Pipes

First element I would like to mention is energy. Georgia is part of a NATO military alliance (GUAM) signed in April 1999 at the very outset of the war on Yugoslavia. It also has a bilateral military cooperation agreement with the US. These underlying military agreements have served to protect Anglo-American oil interests in the Caspian Sea basin as well as pipeline routes. (The alliance was initially entitled GUUAM, Uzbekistan subsequently withdrew and the name was changed to GUAM: Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and Moldova). More you may find from my article 9th Sep.2008 “War on Pipes: Transport corridors as core of US-Russia confrontation” where I write about GUUAM and SRS (Silk Road Strategy Act). Article one may find from my Archives right.

To reduce reliance on Persian Gulf oil, the Bush Administration has sought to strengthen relations with other non-OPEC, oil-rich countries. For example when (then) Defense Secretary Rumsfeld visited Kazakhstan, his main agenda was to promise security assistance for Kazakhstan’s oil pipelines and facilities on the Caspian Sea, where an estimated 7-9 billion barrels of oil were recently discovered (the largest oil discovery anywhere in 30 years). Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey recently signed a U.S.-backed deal to build an oil pipeline to bring that oil to ports on the Mediterranean. The U.S. has military ties with each. U.S. oil demand is huge and increasing.

Today, the U.S. has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, yet it consumes more than 25 percent of global oil production-about 20 million barrels per day (mbd). Oil is the dominant fuel in the U.S. energy market, meeting almost 40 percent of total U.S. energy needs. Most of this is consumed by the transportation sector. If current U.S. oil demand trends continue, by 2025, the US. will be consuming over 29 mbd. More larger and heavier cars and trucks- with bigger engines, driven more miles each year- will account for most of this growth. All tolled, today, the world is consuming a little over 80 mbd (30 billion barrels per year). By 2030, global demand is expected to grow by 50 percent to 120 mbd (45 billion barrels per year).

After August events in Georgia everything did not happen according US plan. Russia could warm its relationship with Azerbaijan which was clearly to seen when Dick Cheney made his travel around Caucasia and came back empty hands. Also the situation in Ukraine developed away from US hopes.

Paul Goble concludes in his “Window on Eurasia” Sep. 5th 2008 following: “With Iran’s declaration that it opposes the construction of any undersea pipelines in the Caspian on “ecological grounds” and thus will block any delimitation of the seabed that allows for them and Baku’s decision not to back the West’s push NABUCCO project, Moscow can claim its first major political victory from its invasion of Georgia.” (Source)

These actions mean that the Russian government will now have full and uncontested control over pipelines between the Caspian basin and the West which pass through Russian territory and will be able either directly or through its clients like the PKK to disrupt the only routes such as Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan that bypass the Russian Federation.

Military-industrial complex

Second let me mention “military-industrial complex”. When Russia’s invading forces choked roads into Georgia with columns of armoured vehicles and struck targets from the air, it instantly bolstered the case being made by some that the Defence Department isn’t taking the threat from Russia and China seriously enough. It was said that “Christmas Comes Early For the Military Industrial Complex”.

The Military-industrial Complex has been one of the biggest players in US foreign policy since President Eisenhower. Details about Iraq killing Iranians with US-supplied chemical and biological weapons significantly deepens our understanding of the current hypocrisy. It began with “Iraq-gate” — when US policy makers, financiers, arms-suppliers and makers, made massive profits from sales to Iraq of myriad chemical, biological, conventional weapons, and the equipment to make nuclear weapons. Reporter Russ Baker noted, for example, that, “on July 3, 1991, the Financial Times reported that a Florida company run by an Iraqi national had produced cyanide — some of which went to Iraq for use in chemical weapons — and had shipped it via a CIA contractor.” This was just the tip of a mountain of scandals.

A PBS Frontline episode, “The Arming of Iraq” (1990) detailed much of the conventional and so-called “dual-use” weapons sold to Iraq. The public learned from other sources that at least since mid-1980s the US was selling chemical and biological material for weapons to Iraq and orchestrating private sales. These sales began soon after current Secretary of State, Donald Rumsfeld travelled to Baghdad in 1985 and met with Saddam Hussein as a private businessman on behalf of the Reagan administration. In the last major battle of the Iran-Iraq war, some 65,000 Iranians were killed, many by gas.Coming back to present days one could easily find out how the US government borrows heavily to cover its off-the-charts defence spending—$587 billion this year. Spending in Iraq and Afghanistan is from 2.9 – 5.0 bn$ per week or 280.000 – 500.000 $ per minute.

The five largest American Defence contractors are Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics. They are being followed by Honeywell, Halliburton, BAE Systems and thousands of smaller defence companies and subcontractors. Some, like Lockheed Martin in Bethesda (Maryland) and Raytheon in Waltham (Massachusetts) draw close to 100 percent of their business from defence contracts. Some others, like Honeywell in Morristown (New Jersey), have important consumer goods divisions. All, however, stand to profit when expenditures on weapons procurements increase. In fact, U.S. defence contractors have been enjoying big Pentagon budgets since March 2003, i.e. since the onset of the Iraq war. As a result, they have posted sizable increases in total shareholder returns, ranging from 68 percent (Northrop Grumman) to 164 percent (General Dynamics), from March ’03 to September ’06.

For war profiteers, soldiers returning maimed or in caskets, and an over $500 billion Pentagon budget paid for by the taxes of ordinary citizens, are externalities — costs and consequences borne by others.

NATO became even more threatening to Russia because, at the same time, the alliance shifted its mission from defending the soil of member countries to offensive missions outside the treaty area – for example, bombing Bosnia, Kosovo, and Serbia.

The trend toward autocracy in Russia is maybe horrible for some Russian interest groups, but it is little threat to the United States. Even autocracies have legitimate security concerns, and Russia has been invaded several times through Eastern Europe, which is why the Russians are worried about a hostile alliance on its borders. Empirical evidence shows that authoritarian regimes aren’t necessarily externally aggressive – for example, the dictators in Burma – and that democracies are no less belligerent than autocracies in their foreign policies. In fact, data show that the most aggressive nation on the planet after World War II has been the United States – not the Soviet Union – with more than 100 military or covert interventions in other countries.

If we make contrast to today’s’ financial turmoil one should remember following. Wall Street analysts concur that “war is good for business” particularly during a period of “economic slowdown”. The top five U.S. defence contractors generated almost $129 billion in revenues and $8 billion in profits in 2006, double the revenue and profits in 2000 when George Bush became President. I bet that they want this to continue.

Lobbyists

Third there are lobbyists. Their business turnover is minimal compared two above mentioned elements but they are important glue between business and public affairs. Lobbyists can channel business money as donations or bribes to political figures or parties who then can facilitate the needs of donors.

In Georgia case most famous is Randy Scheuneman. Top McCain foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheuneman, was paid $200,000 recently by Georgia for consulting services, about one day before McCain issued a policy statement backing and emboldening the Republic of Georgia in its grab for disputed regions. And it now appears that McCain may have signalled that the US would essentially have Georgia’s back if it tried to assert possession of the territories. Since 2004 Scheuneman got $900.000 from Georgia. Recently US promised over 1 bn$ taxpayers money to Georgia – god investment I must say, for Georgians.

In the mid-1990s at the stint of the Clinton administration the United States launched the process of involving “former Soviet satellite nations” into both the European Union and NATO with an eye at securing a more efficient control over their political activities. The rapid expansion of the North Atlantic alliance was a part of the strategy of a “new American age” worked out by R.Cheney and his team. In 1996, Bruce Jackson, one of Cheney’s close friends and a top manager of the military-industrial corporation “Lockheed–Martin” took the reins of the influential lobbyist organisation “American Committee on NATO Expansion”. Bruce Jackson was appointed as head of the US Committee on NATO by President Clinton and put in charge of integrating the Eastern European countries into NATO in spite of assurances that had been given to Soviet leader Mikhael Gorbachev that this would not be done. This integration involved selling US weapons systems to these countries so that they would be compatible with ours.

Lobbying can have also win-win effect to players. E.g. Bruce Jackson founded the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq in 2002, a few months after retiring from Lockheed Martin. One can image, as the war in Iraq grinds on at a cost of some $250-400 million per day, and another contractor-heavy organization, the Iran Policy Committee, calls for a pre-emptive strike against Iran, how US Foreign politics is guided.

The New Defence Agenda (NDA) is part of Brussels growing military-industrial complex. Set up in 2003, it is funded by arms producers Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems in order to promote higher European military spending. Others arms industry lobby groups include the European Association of Aerospace Industries (AECMA) and the European Defence Industries Group (EDIG). The arms industry is also using the Lisbon Agenda and competitiveness to argue their case for increasing the EU?s current defence spending of about 3 percent of GDP to the US level of 6 percent.

New and Old Europe

Discussing about transatlantic relationship with Russia I can see a triangle drama with “western” camp. US has found stalwart allies from “New Europe” Polish-Lithuanian tandem as its spearhead, who are serving as America’s watchmen on Europe’s periphery as well cannon fodder in demanding theatres. The tandem with some wingmen (Estonia, Latvia) have their role in expanding Western military ties to East Europe and checking Russia’s energy grip on Europe.

We have “Old Europe” like Germany, Italy some cases Spain and France also, who are more interesting about strategic political and business partnership with Russia. Old Europe countries are also developing bilateral cooperation with Russia when they see its advantages.

While some “New Europe” countries still have some post-Soviet trauma, US is tied to her self-caused conflicts and “Old Europe” is wondering how the Union will look in future, it is demanding task to find a common approach to relationship with Russia. While Russia also considers its options I can only hope that some neutral forum for dialogue could be found.

Yes I hope that one or more forums can accommodate different dialogs. Europe schizophrenia will be cured either in some common forum or with two rail development where new and old Europe maybe are going with different speeds and maybe also different directions – the trauma symptoms maybe are similar in new and old Europe countries but the cause/motivations differ. Post-Soviet new ones maybe have more emotional cause for their actions, US maybe have more economical priorities as well some old EU states.



War on Pipes: Transport corridors as core of US-Russia confrontation

September 9, 2008

GUUAM

When speaking about interests of West I would like to make a difference between US – or Anglo-American -interests and EU interests. After “Cold War” US has all the while expanded its influence post-Soviet territory with aim to guide those region’s natural resources under US companies. GUUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova) Group was founded 1999 with help of US to foster favorable conditions conducive to economic growth through development of an Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor.

As pointed out by Michel Chossudovsky in his book America’s ‘War on Terrorism,’ (presentation of Anglo-American war policy from the 1990s Balkans to the present), GUUAM has been “dominated by Anglo-American oil interests, ultimately purports to exclude Russia from oil and gas deposits in the Caspian area, as well as isolating Moscow politically.”

More specifically, the US-led military invasion – in close liaison with Britain-responds to the interests of the Anglo – American oil giants, in alliance with weapons producers, private security organizations and service providers (like Halliburton). One could say that the “Anglo-American axis” in defense, foreign policy and especially corporate capital is the driving force behind the military operations in Balkans, Central Asia and Middle East.

SRS

Just five days before the bombing of Yugoslavia (19 March 1999), the US Congress adopted the Silk Road Strategy Act, which defined America’s broad economic and strategic interests in a region extending from the Mediterranean to Central Asia. The Silk Road Strategy (SRS) outlines a framework for the development of America’s business empire through development of an Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor.

The stakes involved with the current conflict are identical to those of the previous war: control over the oil of the Caspian Sea/Black Sea/Caucasus basin, and the control of multiple key oil pipelines criss-crossing the region. The most critical pipeline, the infamous Baku-Ceyhan pipeline supported by the US government and a consortium of US-allied transnational oil interests (including Royal Dutch Shell, Unocal, and BP) takes oil from the Caspian Sea across Azerbaijan (another US-supported regime), whereby it crosses Georgia (bypassing Iran and Russia), then on to the Black Sea, where the oil is carried to Western Europe, and the rest of the world.

The Baku-Ceyhan pipeline has been viewed by the Bush/Cheney administration as one of its brightest geostrategic successes. All of the Anglo-American empire’s pipelines and oil facilities, including Baku-Ceyhan, are threatened, if the conflict escalates. Same time the successful implementation of the SRS requires the concurrent “militarization” of the Eurasian corridor as a means to securing control over extensive oil and gas reserves, as well as “protecting” the pipeline routes on behalf of the Anglo-American oil companies.

Power play and EU

The effect of Nato enlargement is to swing the Iron Curtain to the east. Russia”s opposition to NATO expansion has only increased in recent years. On economical field Russia’s “South Stream” looks more successful so far than Nabucco while the leverage of the United States government over Russian foreign policy has decreased dramatically during last years. US policy is turning into a zero-sum competition with Russia for influence in the post-Soviet regions.

For EU the situation brings few questions such as

  • Is there a difference between EU and Anglo-American interests related to SRS?
  • How to balance aims of energy and security (military) strategies?
  • Is there a difference between EU’s energy policy and interests of corporate capital?

I am not sure if EU would like to answer to these questions, however my point is that this background may have some influence – more than official concern about human rights, rule & law etc. – to EU policy in Balkans and Caucasus.


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