Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Black Sea Axis: Who Will Win, Russia or the United States?

The Washington Post published an editorial titled A Well Placed Pipeline

Yesterday found Mr. Medvedev in Tskhinvali, the capital of the Georgian province of South Ossetia, which Russia invaded last August and then unilaterally recognized as an independent state. Coming just six days after Mr. Obama left Moscow, the message of Mr. Medvedev's provocative visit was unmistakable: Russia has no intention of abandoning its campaign to turn its neighbors into satellites, using blunt instruments such as military force and its control of energy supplies.

I was surprised at the tone of the editorial in that it put Obama in a somewhat negative light in that there is no doubt the Russians don't take Obama seriously.

The editorial then focuses on the Nabucco pipeline project.

That's why it was encouraging that yesterday also brought a multinational meeting in Ankara at which Turkey and four European countries formally agreed to route a new natural gas pipeline across their territories. The Nabucco project would carry gas from the Caspian Sea region and the Middle East to Europe through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria -- thereby providing a path for European energy supplies not controlled by Russia. Though energy pipelines are not usually the subject of international politics and high diplomacy, Moscow has made them so. Twice in the past four years, it has turned off a pipeline that supplies countries across Europe in an attempt to undermine the democratic government of Ukraine, which, like Georgia, has refused to become a Kremlin vassal.

The building of this pipeline depends greatly on the cooperation of the countries that are in the Black Sea axis/corridor.

While Bulgaria just signed onto the project, Romania plays an important factor in the trade route as was pointed out a few months back here on this website:

Romania could be a key pivotal point in establishing a stronger trade corridor along the Baltic - Black Sea corridor....

There hasn't been much attention paid to the country of Moldova and the upcoming election, but the election is an important one for Romania, Russia and who will control the Black Sea corridor.

With President Medvedev going to South Ossetia, the message was loud and clear to Obama and the United States and it was; we will do what we want.

And the message is loud and clear with Romania; a pro-Kremlin government in Moldova could block a pipeline corridor from Turkey if Russia doesn't have a say on the matter.

PM Emil Boc attends signing of Intergovernmental Agreement for Nabucco

Present in Chisinau, on Jan 22, 2009, Romanian ForMin Cristian Diaconescu said that “from the point of view of Romania, the strategic project linked to Nabucco pipe line remains in force.

That is what we are trying at this moment, to convince our European partners and not only them.

I understand that there are expectations from the Republic of Moldova in this respect, which is very good, thinking of the possibility to give economic substance to the project.”

On another point, on July 2nd, the New York Times ran an article that put a lot of spin on the efforts of the the countries that broke away from Russia.

One example is the U.S. base in Kyrgyzstan:

Kyrgyzstan’s reversal on Manas is a case study in canny horse trading. Russian officials, including Mr. Medvedev, have said they blessed the decision, and that may be true, but President Kurmanbek S. Bakiyev is the one who walked away with what he wanted.

Moscow wanted the base, a key transit hub for the United States’ war in Afghanistan, shut down; Kyrgyzstan wanted more money. In February, Moscow seemed to have achieved a master stroke — at a news conference announcing the pledge of $2.15 billion in Russian aid, Mr. Bakiyev said the United States would have to leave Manas in six months.

The horse trading that took place between Obama and Russia has been pointed out on this website. It started at the G20 summit and what was the end result? The United States gets to move no military hardware, only supplies such as food and support equipment. And the movement of the supplies will be monitored by the Russians.

We pay more for the use of the base and the monitoring of the goods opens the door for theft and black market of the goods.

Russia got what it wanted.

The important question in all of this will be, who wins? Russia or the United States?

With Obama as the president, unfortunately, bet on Russia.

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