Monday, January 23, 2006
The Georgian Pipelines: Sabotage or Provocation
Lines of speculation--who is responsible and who benefits?
Was it done by the Russian special services in conjunction with the Ossetians--a "reminder" that Georgia's separatist regions can still impact the central government, given that the lines that were destroyed were done so in northern Ossetia. Or simply by the Ossetians themselves without any sanction from Moscow (but perhaps with the assistance of "rogue" or independent security elements)?
Was it done deliberately to "highlight" the problem of energy security--to blame it on "terrorists" (and conveniently to cause the Georgians deliberate hardship)?
A Chechen connection, given where the sabotage took place? To benefit the cause of destabilizing the Caucasus?
How does the Saakashvili administration benefit? Russia's image as a reliable energy supplier again tarnished, new emphasis on diversification of supply, ability to rally national sentiment against Russia?
How does the Putin administration recover? Two black eyes in January as Russia takes over the presidency of the G-8 which was supposed to cement Russia's position as the world's "reliable" energy supplier?
If this action was sanctioned at higher levels in Moscow, it really calls into question the quality of advice the Kremlin is receiving on how to use Russia's energy leverage to its best effect.
If, in 2006, there is a major clash with Iran, Chavez in Venezuela decides to play politics and the relationship with Russia worsens appreciably, does anyone not think this won't have a major impact on energy prices--and that there won't be a major economic crunch as a result. It's time to step back and get some perspective.