Москва, Russia--Elections in America and Russia are showing some interesting parallels lately, particularly in the realms of nationalism, territorial integrity, expansionism, control of energy resources, and the fate of what's left of democracy in both nations. This isn't surprising as there are some interesting similarities in both nation's storied histories, the story of empires. Russian President Vladimir Putin is hardly a saint, and he has Chechen blood on his hands just as George W. Bush has the blood of tens-of-thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis on his own. This isn't a debate over who's the worst, but with the recent massing of NATO (visitors to this site) forces along the Russian frontiers, something is certainly afoot.
Morality is inapplicable in geopolitics, though it is used as a wedge in swaying the opinions of the domestic populations of all international parties. This can be presumed to be the impetus behind the Litvinenko affair, being a patently obvious case of manipulation when one considers his close relationship with former energy oligarch, Boris Berezovsky, and MI6. Also presumably working for MI6 is one Shaha Ali Riza, former beu of deposed World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz. Ms. Riza had access to very important geopolitical information with her Pentagon and State Dept. clearances, even though she is known to be a British subject of Libyan extraction. That's quite a trick. It's also well known that Riza worked at one time for military and intelligence contractor SAIC.
At present, Scotland Yard and the British Home and Foreign offices appear to be standing by the questionable story that Litvinenko was likely murdered by the FSB-connected Andrei Lugovoi who is running for Russia's Duma (parliament) on December 2nd. His chances are very good indeed in the present context, with Russians feeling very threatened by recent events and actions on-the-part of the U.S. (in Iraq and Afghanistan), and the EU (massing along her borders). This fact will likely lift nationalists like Lugovoi into office. It's unlikely he will ever be extradited in any living person's lifetime, and will be a man to contend with in the future. He's not going to forget his treatment at Western hands anytime soon.
As most of us know by now, former FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko was killed by a lethal-dose of radioactive polonium-210 around this time last year--just three weeks after he was granted his status as a British subject. Recent developments appear to be pointing solidly in the direction that Litvinenko was working as a paid operative for MI6 at the time of his death, and Lugovoi contends that the deceased personally attempted to recruit him into the ranks of MI6. At this point, who killed Litvinenko is an unknown in its specifics. Whomever had the most to gain from his death should be viewed with great suspicion, and that onus appears to be on the British Foreign office. The multimillionaire private security mogul Andrei Lugovoi has good reason to believe he will never be extradited to Britain, having won a defamation suit against a Russian newspaper this week. He had some other entertaining barbs this week:
"Several times, Russia's law enforcement system and I have asked the British to provide proof and the evidence against me," he said. "So far, they have no proof of any kind, and everything about the Litvinenko case is politicized. I'm sure they will not provide anything to anyone, and will keep the issue hot to further discredit Russia on the international scene." Lugovoi also alleged the British were being egged on by fugitives wanted in Russia who are living in London, including billionaire Boris Berezovsky. "Britain has always been a country that allows all sorts of bastards to seek refuge on its territory," he said. As he has in the past, Lugovoi insisted he would have returned to Britain to discuss the allegations against him if he had been invited. He said the case against him had essentially collapsed. "I congratulate MI6 and all British secret services with the loudest flop in their history," he said. ('Suspect in Radiation Poisoning Mocks MI6,' AP, 11.21.2007)The game that is afoot unquestionably involves who controls access to Central Asia's natural gas and oil deposits. Similar actions are occurring in African at this time, and for the same reasons. The construction of radar installations in the Czech Republic are also a good cause for Russia's sense of alarm towards American and NATO actions. What we are seeing is part of an obvious drive into Central Asia, played partly by the meddling of MI6--and it could be safely presumed--American, and other sundry EU-backed activities within the breakaway republics, some closest to the Caucasus mountains and the Baku oil and natural gas fields (in Azerbaijan, on the Caspian Sea). It could also be safely presumed that China has operatives in the region, and a Russian intelligence presence is a given. From all appearances, each faction has its own agenda with little cooperation going on.
Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and all the other breakaway republics of the region figure prominently into what is a coveted part of the world necessary in the recovery of fossil-based energy resources that we know should already be in the early-stages of phaseout. What's also clear is that whomever controls the region controls the prices of petrochemicals on the world market, with the added prize of limiting Russia's influence in-general. This is the same region coveted by Adolf Hitler's Third Reich, now desired by the Western Powers, China, and the remnants of the old Russian Empire. The imperial game never ends, and Russia is that eternally coveted land-mass.
However, Central Asia's natural gas reserves are significantly wider-in-scope than her oil, and coveted by the EU, the U.S., and the Kremlin. The EU's strategic interests in natural gas are pronounced, getting 25% of their supply from Russia. As recently as 2005, America has attempted to increase its presence in Azerbaijan in the form of military bases, but with very vocal response from the Kremlin in the negative. Also in this context are the desires of the EU in the creation of a trans-Caspian pipeline, causing a sudden silence on human rights violations by the region's governments, just this week. And for all the aforementioned reasons, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Turkey, and all the other bordering countries, there is an increased significance for all of these tiny states...and the cause of Russia's alarm.
President Vladimir Putin accused NATO of "muscle-flexing" near Russia's frontiers Tuesday and promised that Moscow would suspend its obligations under a key European arms treaty. Putin's angry statement came amid tensions between Russia and the West, and it reflected the increasingly assertive posture taken by the Kremlin ahead of Dec. 2 parliamentary elections. "In violation of previous agreements, military resources of NATO members are being built up next to our borders," Putin told a meeting of military officials. "Of course, we cannot allow ourselves to remain indifferent to this obvious muscle-flexing." ('Putin: NATO Flexing Muscles at Border,' AP, 11.20.2007)Yet the Western press has focused the onus on Putin--admittedly, not a "nice guy." But what would any statist leader's reaction be if they felt their nation's territorial integrity were being challenged? That's not supposed to matter to those of us in the West, but it's an important point, and Putin is substantially correct in feeling that the West is closing-in on Russia, making a very vigorous attempt at encircling and penetration into Central Asia. Russia would surely be next, with a more southerly route than that taken by German forces 66-years-ago by the United States. We all know how that ended. It doesn't take a genius to understand that both the United Kingdom and the United States would be attacking Russia and the rest of Central Asia from bases being constructed in Afghanistan and Iraq right now.
The NATO military exercises come at an interesting moment--at the exact moment as the trans-Caspian pipeline's inauguration on November 19th, this week.
The leaders of Greece and Turkey opened a gas pipeline project Sunday that will ease Russia's hold on Europe's energy supplies. Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayip Erdogan met on their country's heavily militarized border to underscore the significance of the venture in boosting ties between the rival nations. The 300-kilometer (186-mile) pipeline will provide the European Union with its first supply of gas from the Caspian region, bypassing Russia and the volatile Middle East. It will link the Greek and Turkish networks, and eventually carry gas from Azerbaijan to Italy. US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman attended Sunday's inauguration, signaling Washington's backing of efforts by some European nations to wean themselves off Russian oil and gas dependency. ('Greek, Turkish premiers open taps on Europe's first supply of Caspian gas,' AP, 11.19.2007)
But, there's a possible hitch in the plans:
"To be able to put 11.6 billion cubic meters into this pipeline alone, Azerbaijan - which has other commitments and must retain quantities for domestic use - must more than double production in the next four or five years," he said. "At this point, I do not think that is particularly likely."In that case, [Greek energy analyst Constantinos] Filis said, the project might have to fall back on Russian gas. "If that happens, then European energy dependency on Russia will grow to a worrying degree," he said. (ibid)
This has to be music to the ears of the U.S. State Department and American petrochemical corporations, rivals of British and Dutch petroleum-interests for over a century. The imperial game has not ended by any means. Russia stands to control these resources, which is why we're hearing all the braying moralism emanating from the Western media. It isn't that all of it is untrue, it's that there's no genuine concern behind it for the oppression occurring in nations once part of the traditional Russian Empire. This is what makes it all sky-high rhetoric--propaganda.
Old rivalries are reemerging, and our lives are being gambled with as they were a century ago. The problem is, the stakes are higher, and any cataclysm will have a greater potential for annihilation. But the opportunities for liberty--to those who have for so long dreamed of it--are also great in the region. Ironically, some of it will be due to the administration of George W. Bush, though inadvertently. Events such as the murder of Alexander Litvinenko aren't accidents, and neither are the twists-and-turns in their coverage. While the UK is certainly an ally-of-sorts of the U.S., no nation state has ever been known to ignore her own interests. On that we can rely.