Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Scratch Russia Georgia War and You Find Oil and Gas Pipelines

The war between Russia and Georgia has some nationalist elements, some old grudges but mostly it rubs the wrong way Russia’s newly found power: energy imperialism.

Georgia has refused to play along like other former Soviet states and, if anything, its independent attitude has been a giant irritant for Russia ever since Vladimir Putin used oil and gas to project hegemony over the region and, by extension, into all Europe. At the same time, Georgia, a tiny, 4 million people country has been trying to ward off the giant on its north by seeking membership in NATO or the European Union. In the postCold War era, the United States and Russiadependent Europe are reduced to just pleading for calm.

A look at the map makes the issue at hand quite transparent.

Oil and gas can come from Russia into Europe by tanker through the Black Sea from its massive terminal in Novorossiysk or by pipelines through Belarus, Ukraine and even plans of under water construction in the Baltic. All of these give Russia a huge leverage, almost monopoly, over both the transit and destination countries. More than 25 European countries depend now for more than 75% of their oil and gas from Russia.

But Georgia was eager to act as a spoiler and European countries were even more eager to comply while trying to avoid incurring the wrath of the hand that feeds them. More fair and balanced coverage of talking monkey resource war at Energytribune.