There is a precise answer to this question: Caucasians cannot win! “The zero point” between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and also Asia and the Middle East, Caucasia separates the East and the West and also the North and the South. Caucasia has highly rich energy resources. Most probably for this reason, there are so much ethnical problems, separatist movements, border conflicts, terror and instability in Caucasia. When we divide Caucasia roughly into two sections as “North Caucasia” and “South Caucasia”, we see a picture of three states in South Caucasia; these are Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. There are also regions in these states, e.g. Ajaria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions in Georgia. In addition, there is a “so-called state” in Karabakh in Azerbaijan territory; Armenia claims that it is their own. North Caucasia entirely belongs to Russia. There are several autonomous republics here; Karachay-Cherkessia Republic, Kabardino-Balkaria, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan, North Ossetia, Adygea, Kalmykia, Stavropol Krai, Krasnodar Krai, Astrakhan Oblast. In addition to Russians, Armenians, Georgians and Azerbaijanis, such nations also live in the same geography; Circassians, Abkhazians, Svans, Chechens, Ingushes, Dagestanians, Ossetians, Ubykhs, Tats, Kumyks, Karachay-Balkarians, Nogais, Lezgis, Laks, Avars and so on. Even Circassians known as Northerners are divided into different groups such as Abzekh, Hatukuay, Kemirgoy, Adamey, Makhosh, Shapsigh, Natekuay, and Bzhedugh. When you have a look at this panorama, a war breaking out in Caucasia is not surprising; in fact it is more surprising that how a war has not broken out so far. During the post-Soviet period, Russia both struggled with the US’s efforts to push Russia to behind the Caucasus Mountains and tried to keep up its “near abroad” (blijnıy zarubejnıy) policy to ensure its own security. Because Caucasia is as important for Russia as it was for the USSR previously, because Caucasia is of both political and military importance and also is “vital importance” because of the commercial and economical features. The Way Going to the War… Kremlin has been bleeding for a while in the Balkans and in Asia. They lost Milosevic in Serbia through civil commotion (October 2000), through “Rose Revolution” (2003) they lost Georgia and with “Orange Revolution” (November 2004 - January 2005) they lost Ukraine. In Kyrgyzstan, “The Tulip Revolution” (February - March 2005), and in Belarus the attempts for revolution (March 2006) have given bad signals for the future. At the end, Russia was stuck when Montenegro separated from Serbia in 3rd June 2006. From Russia’s point of view, everything went wrong in 2008. Despite Russia’s enormous campaign, Kosovo gained its independence on 17th February. Russia’s last castle in the Balkans, Serbia signed a pact with the European Union known as a Stabilisation and Association Agreement on 7th November 2007 and the EU supporters won the national elections in the country held on 11th May 2008. During this non-stop development process, Russia has given harsh messages firstly through Putin and then through Medvedev. Especially, EU-Russia, NATO-Russia meetings and the Security Conferences became the grounds where Russia put its objections into words. Russia has expressed in no uncertain words and emphasized that “a unipolar world is unacceptable today and even that unipolarity is impossible” No Balance with the US… Although Russia still sees itself in the same position in the old bipolar system of the world, in reality Russia is a “regional significant power” today. Russia, though it restricted the influence of the NGOs through prohibiting the establishment of non governmental organisations financially supported by the foreigners, it has not obtained an indicative advantage. “Shanghai” is not promising for a brilliant future, either. On the other hand, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) couldn’t form an effective pole against the US, in which organization India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan, holding more than the half of the oil production and consumption market, took part as observers. In the August 2007 summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, in Bishkek, Putin expressed that “a unipolar world is unacceptable” and put forward the mission of the organisation, however the rest of the action probably hasn’t become so effective up to the present. In 1996, Shanghai talks began so as to act cooperatively against “terror, separatist movements and religious fundamentalism” with the participation of five countries and lead to such a result that the organisation was established in 2001. The organisation was founded with five countries and later the number of the member states reached six: Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. They were thinking the US was the power behind terror, separatist movements and religious fundamentalism that they called “three bloody troubles”. The organisation took the first serious anti-American step in 2005, and they called the US to put an end to its military presence in Central Asia. In addition to this, the Collective Security Treaty organisation (CSTO) was signed in Tashkent in May 2002 with the participation of Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Moldova, Turkmenistan and Ukraine drew back from the treaty. BRIC: What’s new…? One of the other grounds where Russia makes efforts to balance the US is BRIC. BRIC is an international economical ground and refers to the combination of initials of member states: Brazil, Russia, India and China. Having a growth rate between 5% and 10%, these states also have facilities that can overtake Group of Eight (G8 club) in 2050. These countries encompass over forty percent of the world’s population, approximately 2.78 billion people, and hold ten percent of the world’s economy. Kazakhstan is also reported to be included to BRIC in the future. So that the organisation will be named as BRICK and this ground might undertake the greatest challenges in the future. Of course this might be possible if by chance they continue for such a long time and turn into a mechanism… No remedy against NATO… On the other hand, Russia couldn’t hinder the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary in 1999 and Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia in 2004 to access to NATO. Kremlin couldn’t prevent the accession of Albania and Croatia in 2009. In the same way, it seems impossible from Moscow’s point of view to prevent the memberships of Georgia and Ukraine. No Response to Star Wars… In the meantime, Russia encountered a highly serious problem about defence. In 1980s, during the Reagan period, the Strategic Defense Initiative soon nicknamed the “Star Wars” project had become one of the principle causes of the USSR’s collapse. Although Russia competed against the US in every field, they couldn’t respond to this project. In brief, the project was based on the idea that the US was going to destroy Russia’s intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) before reaching the US territory by means of laser beams controlled from the space. This meant the classical phase of the armament race had come to an end. US President George W. Bush revived the project at the beginning of 2000s. This time “National Missile Defense System (NMD)” known as “Missile Defense Shield” project by the public is still unrivalled and for Russia it’s impossible to respond to this project. This project is like the earlier one, aims to follow the missiles through the satellite support and if necessary destroy them at their launch point or intercept the incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles during their flight through the atmosphere by other missiles or lasers. This project can be implemented in those countries that are allies of the US, for example it can become widespread in all NATO countries. This project can also be used for the purpose of security against “Outlaw States”, “Asymmetric Threat Producing Regions” and “Terrorists”. The radar base of the project will be in the Czech Republic; Russia merely responded this by reducing the oil amount forwarded to the Czechs. The Last Two Trumps: Ethnicity and Energy… In this situation, Russia began to think about two great trumps. The first one is to manipulate the balances in ethnical conflicts and the second one is energy. Moscow became unsuccessful in the former and successful in the latter. Today, Russia is the greatest energy supplier of the European Union. The enormous increase in the energy prices helped Russia to pick itself up. Russia founded a series of satellite states in its near abroad. Both with the help of these and the regimes still tied to itself, Russia established a long barricade in a way. Transnistria... Moldova left Ottoman sovereignty in 1812, and was connected to Russia. Later on, Moldova frequently changed hands between Russia and Romania. In 1924, Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Moldavian ASSR) was founded. Even during the World War II, Moldova changed hands twice between Russia and Romania. After disengaging with Romania in 1947, Moldova took action again to break away from Russia in the Gorbachev period and declared its independence on 27th December 1991. Transnistria (Pridnestrovie) is located along the east line of the border between Moldova and Ukraine and is a de facto independent state. However the international society did not recognize it as independent and accepted it within the territory of Moldova, so Transnistria declared its independence on 2nd September 1990. Located along the Dniester River, Transnistria has chosen Tiraspol as the capital city, now has its own government, military, police, flag, postal system and national anthem. Transnistria is of significant importance for Russia’s regional policy. The Kosovo experience has gained validity in global politics, and this can influence the regional balances seriously. South Ossetia and Abkhazia… Both Abkhazia and South Ossetia were founded with the help of Russia, during the USSR’s collapse course. It’s known that Russia has supplied economical and military support for both of them. However, these two regions are not recognized internationally and the states and organisations such as the European Union, the United States, the United Nations, European Security and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Council of the European Union recognize these regions as the parts of Georgia and want the both sides to solve the problem peacefully. Russia tries to integrate them and has begun to give passports to the citizens of those two regions. They, together with Transnistria in Dniester region and Nagorno-Karabakh are called “Kosovos of Russia” in the international literature. The Nagorno-Karabakh… Upper Karabakh is in the west of Azerbaijan, on the border of Iran and Armenia, it is a region within the Azerbaijan borders. Although Nagorno-Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan, it is currently occupied by Armenia and now there is a puppet state in that territory founded by the Yerevan, however it is not recognized by any international organisation or country, including Armenia. During the Soviet Union, Upper Karabakh was called Nagorno-Karabakh Oblast (Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic) from 1923 to 1989. With the support of Russia, its independence was declared as the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic on 10th October 1991. Following the collapse of the USSR, based on the Article 72 of the USSR Constitution dated 1977; Azerbaijan declared its independence from the USSR on 31st August 1991. Upon this, Upper Karabakh was separated from Azerbaijan “technically” upon the approval of Armenia and Russia – most probably because of a concern to protect the regional balances. Azerbaijan did not recognize this decision and cancelled the autonomous status of Nagorno-Karabakh on 26th November 1991, based on the provisions of the following documents: firstly, article 70 of its constitution dated 1978 stating that Azerbaijan’s borders cannot be changed without its own approval; secondly, article 78 of the same constitution expressing that Autonomous Nagorno-Karabakh Region and Autonomous Nakhchivan Region belong to Azerbaijan; thirdly, article 83 of the same constitution explaining that Autonomous Nagorno-Karabakh Region is an autonomous region in the territory of Azerbaijan; and lastly, article 114 of the same constitution saying that only Azerbaijan itself can decide the borders of the Autonomous Nagorno-Karabakh Region. Today, Nagorno-Karabakh is one of the main problems between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The ethnical conflicts in the region started at the beginning of 1990s. After Armenia revealed its wish to transfer Karabakh into its own territory this conflict turned into a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. In 1991, new republics in Caucasia declared their independence one after another, and in this period, some heavy weapons were acquired from the military bases which Russia evacuated in those countries and these weapons changed the balances in favour of Armenia. Armenia has occupied the Nagorno-Karabakh region and the six districts around the region. The separatist Armenian government in Nagorno-Karabakh declared its independence illegally in 1991. The armistice agreement bringing an end of this war was signed in Bishkek in 1994. In Nagorno-Karabakh, on 25th February 1992, Khojali Massacre happened and a great many of them followed it. Republika Srpska (Republic of Srpska)… Republika Srpska has no historical or political background. It might be commented that Republika Srpska was founded before the Bosnian War, in accordance with the oncoming periodical conditions and as a part of the project regarding the genocide of Bosnians. Republika Srpska centred in Banja Luka, was founded just before the Bosnian War. In the Dayton Agreement, signed just after the Bosnian War, Republika Srpska took part as another administrative entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina and also the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia forming Bosnia and Herzegovina. In accordance with the Dayton Agreement dated 1995, covering the 49% of the total area of the territory, Republika Srpska owns the north, north-east and east of the country. Since no census was carried out after the war, there is no reliable data regarding the population. It is estimated to have a population of 1.5 million. Firstly Srebrenica and then many other regions, where ethnical purification campaigns were carried out during the war, are in the territory of Republika Srpska. 92% of its population composed of Serbs, and the population of the Bosniaks was over 356.000 just before the war; however after the war it is assumed that only 37.000 Bosniaks remained in the region. In the same way, it is known that the population of Serbs here is increasing inversely proportional to Bosniaks. A great number of Serbs who are claimed to have committed “war crimes” or “crimes against humanity” during the Bosnian War are thought to live here. Republika Srpska does not allow Bosniaks and Croats to use their rights of return which was envisaged in Dayton Agreement. Latterly, separatist political currents in Republika Srpska are gaining strength gradually and the aim of the separatists is Republika Srpska’s declaring independence from Bosnia- Herzegovina and later on they want to join Serbia. Gazprom… Russia’s greatest trump to maintain and develop its position is Gazprom. Due to some political circumstances, the USSR Oil and Natural Gas Ministry’s gas supply and transport department was reshaped as a state consortium with the name of Gazprom in 1989. The first president of Gazprom was Victor Chernomirdin. Gazprom holds 25 % of the gas reserve in the world with its work in West and North Siberia and it grips the economy of Russian Federation. Gazprom holds 150.000 km of pipeline. From 179 distribution agencies Gazprom delivers gas to 80.000 residential areas with 428.000 km of line. Gazprom was converted to a corporation on 1993 February the 17th. Afterwards it started to trade with France and Finland. Gazprom, which sold 545 billion m3 gas (approximately 5,5 billion dollars) in 2004, has been directed by Alexey Miller since the beginning of 2001. It is doubtless that Gazprom is as valuable for 460.000 shareholders as the Council. Gazprom belongs to 36% to legal entities, 11% to foreign legal entities, 13,32% to Russian Federation real persons, and 38,37% directly to Russian Federation. Gazprom is also a very important subject for Berlin-Moscow axis. The axis, which aims to get the USA’s effects and effective area indexed to the development of the relations of Germany and Russian Federation, gives Gazprom an important function. 100 billion m3 of gas is consumed in Germany, which has a limited source of energy. Berlin produces only 20 % of its energy demand. As all over the world, the gas demand of Germany is constantly increasing. The 515 billion m3 gas consumption of EU in 2004 is estimated to increase up to 730 billion m3 till 2020. Agreements have not been signed for the 27 % of this amount yet. The 47.6 trillion m3 of usable reserve, which is a quarter of the world reserve, and 545 billion m3 of yearly gas production (2004) are very important for Germany, which supplies 35% of its gas demand from Russian Federation. The German company Ruhrgaz holds 6,43% share of Gazprom. With this, Ruhrgaz is the biggest shareholder and foreign partner of Gazprom. Hot Money and technology transfer are very important for Gazprom to collaborate with German companies such as Wintershall AG, Achimgas, Wingas, and BASF. It is now time to mention that Achimgaz is a company that is founded with pro rata apportionment of Gazprom and Wintershall AG, which belongs to BASF. Wingaz holds 65% and Gazprom holds 35% shares of Wintershall. Gazprom has come to an aggreement for North European Gas Pipeline (NEGP) with BASF in September of 2005. 51% of NEGP will belong to Gazprom. BASF and EON will both have 24,5% of shares. NEGP will help Germany to reach directly to Russian Federation gas reserves. Gazprom declared German companies to be its “Strategic partners”. By the way, German bank Deuthsche Bank has an important position with the credit of 200 million dollars it gave to Gazprom. Deutsche Bank sold 6,9% shares of Gazprom using its partner the Russian Federation bank United Federation Group. The Projects Besieging Russia… There are a number of projects that cause Russia to feel coerced. Those projects confined Kremlin’s foreign policies a lot. They are as important as Georgia’s joining to Partnership for Peace Programme with NATO and its future membership of NATO. Nabucco, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) line, Shahdeniz-Erzurum Natural Gas Pipeline, Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway projects may lead to unrecoverable losses for Russia. These projects will help Caucasia to reach to world markets. And of course world markets to Caucasia…. NABUCCO… The Nabucco pipeline is a project that is planned to transfer gas from Turkey to European countries. It is supported by the USA and EU due to it being an alternative to Russia, which is the biggest gas supplier of Europe. The construction of the pipeline will start in 2010 and travel over 3.300 km starting from Turkey. The project was started by BOTAS (Turkey) in 2002. It will lie from Turkey to Austria via Bulgaria, Rumenia, and Hungary. The copartners of the project are BOTAS (Turkey), Bulgargaz (Bulgaria), Transgaz (Rumenia), MOL (Hungary), OMV (Austria), and RWE (Germany). The pipeline, which is estimated to transfer 31 billion m3 of gas, is a part of Trans-Europe EU Energy Line, as well. The first estimation show that it will cost approximately 4,6 billion Euros. The line is planned to be joined to Turkey-Iran Gas Line and Trans-Caucasia Gas Line. With these joinings it will both join Middle Asia and Middle East with gas lines to Europe from the Austria’s main gas transporter Baumgarten an der March Pipeline. BTC… 50% of Azerbaijan’s budget income comes from oil exports and 90% of its export is oil and gas. Because of some political problems with Armenia, Baku-Ceyhan Pipeline goes through Tbilisi instead of a shorter way through Armnia and the length of the line reaches to 1760 km. The line has the capacity of yearly 50 million tonnes and there are 7 pumping stations on the way. The partners of the 4-billion-dollar project are as follows: ADPS 45%, BP Amoco 25%, Unocal 7,48%, Statoil 6,37%, ENI Agip 5%, and TPAO 5%. The first petrol transfer from Ceyhan started in May of 2006. The proved reserve of the petrol in the Caspean area is approximately 34 billion barrels. And the estimated amount is 270 billion barrels. Estimated production of the oil from the area in 2010 is 3,7 million barrels a day. Georgia, which does not have much petrol in its land, profits a good amount from the share it gets from the transit pass of the petrol from the line. BTE… Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum Gas Pipeline transfers the gas produced from Shahdeniz resevoirs to Europe via Turkey. The Pipeline starting from Baku goes through the same route as Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline till Turkey. The line, with the yearly capacity of 30 billion m3 of gas, has the reserve of 178 billion m3 from project of the “Merhele-1”. The production is planned to be increased with the project “Merhele-2”, which is planned to be started 2012. As Turkey is a transit area over the East-West and North-South axis and Ceyhan Terminal to be transformed to energy trade center, BTE is very important within the context of joıning the East-West energy corridore. Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway… The railway project, which is also known as “Rail-Silk Way”, is also very important and may help Caucasia and Middle Asia to weaken the ties with Russia. The railway starting from Baku-Azerbaijan goes through Tbilisi and Ahilkelek of Georgia and reaches Kars (Turkey). This railway joins Turkey and Azerbaijan. It will lie over 180kms and cost 450 million dollars. 76kms of it will be in Turkey, 29kms will be in Georgia, and 80kms will be in Azerbaijan. When the continuing Marmaray project is joined to BTE it will be possible to carry things between Europe and China without phases. All the cargo between Europe and Middle Asia will be transported on this line. When the project is finished, it is estimated that in the mid-future yearly 3 million tonnes of cargo will be transported on this line. This amount will rise to 16 million tonnes of cargo and 1,5 million passengers a year till 2034. What’s happening in South Ossetia is certainly not about Ossetians. Georgia and Russia are struggling on a larger chess board. Russia is not as strong in this game as seen. And Georgia is not as weak as it is seen. A professor of International Relations once said that “Russia is like a silk stocking”. “If it runs from Caucasia and can not be stopped, it goes till Moscow. That’s why Russia must stop it in Caucasia.” The stockings seems that it stopped for now. But nobody knows what happens when it runs again.
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