The New Old Russia

You regular readers of this blog (all 3 of you and a few Viagra bots) will know I’ve been warning about Russia’s new aggressiveness for a while now. Just search for “energy bully”.

It’s not surprising that Putin’s Russia is interested in taking over Georgia. The country stands between Russian and Turkey and, no surprise here, Iran. Putin gets two things with a pacified Georgia: additional port space on the Black Sea and a new conduit to pipe up Iranian oil to Gazprom. Note that Iran and Russia have been getting cozy for a while. Russia wants Iranian oil, and clearing out any possible problems with Georgia and Armenia will allow for a direct pipeline up from Iran to Russia.

Some people are warning Ukraine that Russia may eye it. According to the CIA, Ukraine imports 3/4 of its energy needs. It doesn’t have much to offer Russia besides steel, so it’s more profitable for Putin to keep Ukraine dependent upon its natural gas resources.

Ukraine is the testing ground for Putin’s regional domination strategy. He tested it out with the natural gas shutoff in 2006. Countries are dependent upon petroleum resources, and if those resources are threatened or embargoed, those countries will suffer.

For this reason alone it’s imperative we switch to alternative energies. Solar power should be this country’s number one priority, not so we can reduce carbon footprint, but so we can sell this technology to the world to thwart the growing threat of an energy-monopolized Russia.

Armenia should be the next state threatened by this model. Then Russia will have a clear path to Iran. The question is how will Russia go about getting Iranian oil– force or coercion? The former would alarm the world, which is why it would be the last big block in the scheme. The latter would be the first method– until it’s deemed time for Iran to go. Then watch China panic.

There’s many dominoes here. I don’t like the direction they’re falling.

UPDATE: Condi Rice has set up new cease-fire agreement which has been signed by both sides.  It’s better than Sarko’s agreement, and we should see some movement of troops back to the border of Georgia.  I think we’ll see Georgia have to give up its claim to any of Ossetia, which may stabilize the region to a degree.


8 Responses to “The New Old Russia”

  1. August 13, 2008 at 7:43 am

    What’s Putin going to do with all the oil?

    Keep it?

  2. 2 docattheautopsy
    August 13, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Monopolize it. They’ve been consolidating energy resources. He knows Europe in general is energy poor, and he knows how the world kowtows to the Middle East because of oil. So if he can control gas, oil, & coal resources (and Russia has vast amounts of untapped petroleum resources), he can dominate the market– as well as the countries that depend on those resources.

    He also knows the USSR failed because they couldn’t match military spending with the West, so he’s working an angle to maintain steady income of money to rebuild the old Soviet war machine. Nukes + control of hydrocarbons = nearly unstoppable, militarily or economically.

    Unless the dependence on hydrocarbon fuel is curbed with additional nuclear plants or cheap & efficient solar power.

  3. August 14, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Yah. So he’ll sell it–at a price. But that price will still be determined by the market.

    PJBuchanan wrote an essay on precisely this topic–three days before the Georgia kerfuffle. In (brutal and non-nuanced) brief, Buchanan said that PRC and Russia are now “capitalist unitary States;” Commie on the inside, but capitalist on the outside. They’ll take the money and make their people a bit happier. He also cited stats which show that Russkis and PRChinese are happy campers with their country’s situation(s).

    But the Screeching WarBloggers (BillyBoy Kristol, et al) are creating scary movies by referring to this as Sudetenland Revisited. There’s no indication whatsoever that Putin has an interest in taking over Germany or Poland–and there’s serious doubt that he could even KO Ukraine, whose armed forces are larger than the entire population of Georgia.

    Finally, recall that this is not exactly a “clean hands” thing; Georgia’s Prexy DID initiate an assault on S. Ossetia, and Ossetians are NOT Georgians. (They are not really Russians, either, but there are plenty of Russians who live there.)

    We picked a moron for a friend.

    And you are right: the US must become LESS dependent on petrol, whether domestic or foreign.

  4. 4 docattheautopsy
    August 14, 2008 at 10:13 am

    I don’t think we’re seeing a move towards a new USSR, but Putin is working to prop his country up to be as powerful as possible, and energy dominance over energy-poor states is one way to do it. He doesn’t have to invade, but he knows that if he controls gas supplies to neighboring countries, he can have them by the throat when the winter rolls around. He’s also keenly aware that the Middle Eastern petroleum reserves are limited and have already had 80 years of pumping. Once those supplies begin to fail, new reserves will have to be used, so he’s working on isolating those reserves and biding time. That’s the brilliance of this strategy– it’s a long-term focus.

    Putin’s also keenly aware of the European queasiness about taking any kind of military action. Ukraine’s got a serious military, and many states are under the umbrella of NATO, so to initiate a military campaign is foolhardy. His game is to provoke the other country to take the first military step, which is what happened in Georgia. South Ossetia, which is still, technically, in Georgia, has had a group of separatists fighting a guerrilla war on Georgia for a while, and they finally starting lobbing artillery into Georgia proper. Georgia moved in to stop this, and Russia was right there with a strong military presence to thwart a surprised Georgia.

    It sounds much like the Korean Conflict, with South Ossetia playing the part of North Korea, and Georgia playing the part of South Korea. The provocation of the conflict was similar to the assaults on Israel from Southern Lebanon by Hezbollah. The question is– what do you do when your neighbor starts firing mortars into your country? Sit there and take it, or fight back?

  5. August 15, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Well, the parallel is both Kosovo AND Korea. I suspect that there will be a standoff similar to that in Korea, but with loosely ‘democratic’ states on both ends.

    As to gas/oil: yes, of course Putin intends to extort Europe. But that’s Europe’s problem, not ours. I maintain that there are limits to US abilities and that Europe should work on maintaining its own ‘sphere of influence’ if that’s what they think they have to do.

  6. 6 docattheautopsy
    August 15, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Ha ha! Europe’s “Sphere of Influence!” That’s a good one.

    They’re biggest influence currently is over Barack Obama and the Democrats. Why do you think Georgia appealed to the US? France tried to broker a peace deal, and that was an unmitigated disaster. But give Sarko credit– at least he tried to do something. The Germans, Greeks, Spanish? Sitting on their hands again.

  7. August 16, 2008 at 7:25 am

    Precisely. Europe has no self-interests.

    So is your solution that the US play Globo-Cop? Because that won’t work.

    First off, it’s good to recall George Washington’s admonition about ‘entangling alliances.’ His thought was that the US simply cannot and SHOULD not be dragged into wars all over the globe. The Constitution’s defense provisions were not written for the benefit of Europeans; and the US taxpayer should not be stripped naked for the sake of Europeans, either.

    Secondly, even if someone cooked up a Compelling National Interest in Georgia, (not to mention Ukraine, Uirgistan, Kazakhstan, etc., etc., etc., –and let’s not forget all the countries of Africa and SE Asia–

    Where in Hell do we have the armed forces required for that?

    It’s about time Europe took a little ‘tough love’ from the US. They can grow up and provide their own damn armies. Yah, we’ll help–but we are not their Siamese twin.

  8. 8 docattheautopsy
    August 16, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Hard to find anything I disagree with there. The ultimate question is how to contain Russia, and Reagan’s economic model is still the best possible method to contain it. And pulling the rug out from Russia’s #1 export, energy, will foil Putin’s ambitions. Russia would still be a potent military force, but they’re still far behind technologically, their intelligence isn’t what it used to be, and they will be challenged by the Chinese in about 10 years time.

    Europe has effectively given Georgia over to Russia, and Bush knows he can’t commit troops to fighting Russia in Georgia. We’ve offered “humanitarian aid”, but we have to be very careful as to what we’re giving the Georgians. We have some great tank-killing munitions, but if the Geogians use those against Russian armor, there’s no doubt where they’re coming from.

    Russia wants to establish a “peacekeeping” force in Georgia. I say, go for it. The Georgians are likely to start a guerrilla campaign and cause Russia much trouble there. Turkey and Armenia are friendly to the US, and we can get aid to the Georgians through those borders. But we can’t provide direct military assistance without thing spiraling out of control.

    The Polish missile defense agreement comes at an interesting time, too. Bush could use it as a bargaining chip to ensure Georgian independence. Like it or not, the US is the big player here, and Europe has already shown how feckless it can be. The UN is due to chime in soon as well, and I can’t wait for the good chuckle I’ll get from that.

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About Me

My name is Doc. Welcome to my blog. If you're visiting from another blog, add me to your blogroll (and I'll happily reciprocate). I have a Ph.D. in Chemistry and live in Wisconsin. If you have any questions, feel free to email me. My email is docattheautopsy at gmail. (No linking to deflate the incredible spam monsters).



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