It goes without saying what the Georgia-Soviet war in 2008 was all about. It wasn’t a tiny country causing problems as the media purports and has the public believe. It was a premeditated Soviet attack on a sovereign nation with valuable strategic importance within the region. It would’ve set Europe free from the Soviets being their only supplier of natural gas. Now the true intentions are more evident as Moscow issues this “warning”.
The Soviet art of socialist realism used to be defined as “socialist in substance, national in form”. Threats to prevent the construction of a trans-Caspian gas pipeline by military force are also a form of Kremlin art: bluff in their substance, even if brutal in their form.
Pursuant to President Dmitry Medvedev and the Russian Security Council’s October 14 decision to draft proposals on how to resist the European Union’s Third Energy Package as well as the EU’s Nabucco and trans-Caspian gas pipeline projects, Moscow is undertaking diplomatic and political countermeasures to the EU-planned gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Europe.
Statements by Medvedev and the Russian foreign ministry claiming that trans-Caspian pipelines would be unlawful without Russian consent have failed to make that legal case and are seen as purely political. Officially inspired polemics against that project in the Moscow media have also left Ashgabat and Brussels unimpressed. In frustration, Moscow has started hinting at the use of force.
Russian Gas Society president and vice-chairman of the Duma, Valery Yazev (dubbed “Gazprom’s chief lobbyist”), has publicly reminded Turkmenistan that it lacks military protection in the Caspian Sea, and it risks a “Libyan scenario” by joining the EU’s trans-Caspian project. He dismissed the value of United Nations General Assembly support for Turkmenistan’s neutrality and multivector policy.
Instead of “flirting” with the West, Yazev suggested, Turkmenistan should seek Russia’s and China’s protection through the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Eurasian Economic Union, and Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Using semi-official channels to threaten the use of force is a tactic with limited deniability. It reflects both a sense of impunity and a calculated bluff by Russia’s high-level authorities. It does not deserve a direct response at the public level; this would unnecessarily dignify the bluff.
The proper Western response at this stage is to make clear in Moscow that the trans-Caspian project is a shared Western interest; and to demonstrate this commitment to the Caspian partners.
Continue reading article: Moscow issues Trans-Caspian Project warning (Asia Times)