Monday, August 18, 2008

Russian Power Play

Ali Ettefagh on Russian global strategies, and the divergence in U.S. and European responses in today's Wash Post:

America has been busy with old-fashioned territory grabs and the eastward crawl of NATO towards Ukraine and Georgia, aiming for relatively modest oil reserves in the Caspian region. However, Russia has been nursing a modern global strategy that leaps over borders. Russia has cut landmark deals with former and potential American clients: weapon sales to Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Venezuela are the first of their kind. Sales of gas via a new trans-Siberia gas pipeline to northern China and talks of a "gas OPEC" with Iran, Algeria and others is another that towers over the pseudo-democratic ideas of Georgia. Border demarcation of the North Pole (with purported reserves of more than 90 billion barrels of oil-- twelve times the amount in the Caspian region), nuclear power deals with India and Iran and direct under-sea gas pipelines to Germany, Turkey and south-eastern Europe (bypassing the Ukrainian chokehold on Russian gas lines to Europe) are other moves on the multi-dimensional chess board -- all as Russia is simply keeping cool and amusing itself with the much hyped, but failed mission of Tony Blair as the chief negotiator of the Middle East Quartet, of which Russia is a member. From the Russian perspective, all options are on the table!

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