Monday, January 23, 2006

In EDM, Vladimir Socor writes about the January 22 energy supply cutoff to Georgia:
The selection of targets and close coordination of the blasts leaves no doubt that they aimed for a total halt of Russian energy supplies to Georgia during an unusually cold mid-winter (with Armenia suffering collateral damage). The operation undertaken to that end in two different North Caucasus regions demonstrates the effectiveness of whatever organization carried it out. Suspicions focus variously on elements within Russia's secret services, intent on forcing Georgia to its knees; or on North Caucasus guerrilla groups seeking to discredit Moscow in the region and internationally.

Either version must be seen as a mortifying possibility by Gazprom, as well as Russia's United Energy Systems (UES) and Transneft, and by implication the Russian government. The blasts indicate that Moscow no longer reliably controls energy export routes on Russia's own territory. Gazprom's pipelines to the South Caucasus and to Turkey (Blue Stream), Transneft's oil pipelines from Dagestan and from Azerbaijan to the Black Sea export terminal Novorossiisk, the Caspian Pipeline Consortium's oil line also to Novorossiisk, and UES's planned electricity transmisison lines toward Turkey, all criss-cross an increasingly unstable North Caucasus en route to export destinations.
Socor suggests that the blasts and cut-off should come as as a wake-up call to the West: dependence on Russian gas and energy supplies may be disastrous for its future.
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