Is it in-retaliation for the tensions between Georgia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, and Russia over the Russian natural gas pipeline and Gazprom's price-hikes? Inquiring about the West's role in all of this is valid, but it's likely we are seeing the outlines of a propaganda campaign against Russia emerging. It sure feels like the Cold War again. The fact that the EU would be affected by a cutoff of natural gas (particularly Germany, the EU's most-prominent economic player) suggests that there could be significant interest from Western intelligence in all of this, if not complicity.
It could well be that Georgian pols have instructed their intelligence community to release this at this particular moment (or with urgings from NATO). It's a hard-call. Nonetheless, a game of energy-dependency is being played on the world stage, and in multiple-sectors of the "global economy." This time, the West isn't in their former position of predominance, but there are tangible reasons for the Russia-Georgia standoff in late-2006. Western manipulations in the region (and probably the biggest-part of why we're in Iraq--to control energy-dependence in the region):
The corridor is a key part of US policy in the Caspian to end Russia's dominance over export pipelines and discourage investment in routes across Iran... Julia Nanay, a senior director at PFC Energy, said: "The start up of the gas pipeline, which will eventually carry gas to western markets, coming so soon after commissioning of the oil pipeline is a milestone in US-backed plans to diversify energy export routes out of the Caspian." (Financial Times, 12.14.2006)
Russia is openly attempting to reintegrate Belarus, the Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Georgia back into the traditional Russian empire, one of the certainties here. The other certainty is that American and British petroleum multinationals are working to push things in the opposite-direction, working at usurping this energy monopoly on natural gas and oil from the Kremlin. Neither American, or continental European policy-makers want a strong and energy independent Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Ukraine--or even Iran and Iraq.
Quite-the-opposite: they want to continue isolating the break-away republics, eventually controlling Russia in some form for her resources and cheap-labor. The West has had this goal for several-hundred years. And where is part of the pipeline going through? Turkey. Somehow, I think they'll get that EU membership whether they torture dissidents or not. The new Baku-Erzerum oil pipeline (my name for it) ends in Eastern Turkey, originating in Azerbaijan, the second of its kind to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline it runs-parallel to.
A Western infrastructure that will bypass Russia's monopoly is being rapidly-constructed. It is possible that all these killings of dissidents is a low-intensity war between exiled-oligarchs (potentially backed by the CIA and MI5) and the Kremlin, with a dash of organized crime and some loose-cannons for kicks. But why kill critics of the Putin regime? To make him look bad, obviously--yet, isn't there already plenty of ammunition? And in the context of all this, the Russian Mozdok-Tbilisi pipeline exploded in one-section, on the Russian-side:
Explosions in southern Russia on Sunday morning severed the country's natural gas pipelines to Georgia, swiftly plunging Russia's neighbor into heat and electricity shortages and causing a diplomatic flare-up between the nations. Two more explosions hours later severed one of Russia's main electricity cables to Georgia, deepening the electricity shortage even as the gas supply in Georgia dwindled. Russia supplies Georgia with all of its natural gas. (Pravda, 01.23.2007)
The attack occurred on Sunday in North Ossetia in the Caucasus, and they're still repairing-them (should be up tonight). Meanwhile, Azerbaijan is providing the natural gas without missing-a-beat. Putin has called on FSB-reinforcements to guard Caucus energy and pipeline facilities. Georgian politicians are blaming the Kremlin for the explosions. Curious-timing, this "revelation" about the smuggling of uranium-235, very curious. Is there a smear-campaign going on against the Kremlin in the Western press? It sure looks like it.
FT Coverage of 12/2006 Tensions Between Georgia and Russia:
RIA Novosti on Mozdok-Tblisi Pipeline Attack: