December 2014 saw the reemergence of competition between rival pipeline projects in Eurasia—similar to the earlier competition between the Nabucco natural gas pipeline, proposed by a consortium of European companies, and Russia’s South Stream. Currently, Russia’s new proposed pipeline project—Turkish Stream—is challenging the Azerbaijani-initiated Southern Gas Corridor, which will carry Caspian-basin gas to Europe via the South Caucasus, Turkey and then across Southeastern Europe.
Turkey is already signed on to the Southern Gas Corridor—the Corridor’s longest pipeline segment, the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), will cross Turkey from east to west—but it is also being strongly courted by Moscow to host Turkish Stream (see EDM, December 17, 2014; February 20, 2015). This growing significance of Turkey in competing large-scale energy transit projects across Europe and Eurasia has also opened up a discussion domestically regarding which prospective energy union the country should become part of—European or Eurasian. Continue reading
In recent weeks, important information regarding the military balance of power in the South Caucasus has come to light. On June 3rd it was revealed that Russia has stationed an undisclosed number of Iskander-M ballistic missiles in Armenia. While on June 18th media outlets reported that Russia has begun the delivery of nearly $1 billion worth of weaponry, which include tanks, multiple rocket launchers and artillery cannons, to Azerbaijan. Continue reading
For those who enquire about what possible oucomes would stem from a war with Iran, war with Russia is a real possibility. Although this is not new news, it also gives insight into why (among many other reasons) Russia had manufactured justification and invaded Georgia in 2006: It provides strategic military access. As pointed out by the article, Georgia will likely have to be invaded again should war break out.
The Russian military anticipates that an attack will occur on Iran by the summer and has developed an action plan to move Russian troops through neighboring Georgia to stage in Armenia, which borders on the Islamic republic, according to informed Russian sources.
Dmitry Rogozin, who recently was the Russian ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, warned against an attack on Iran.
“Iran is our neighbor,” Rogozin said. “If Iran is involved in any military action, it’s a direct threat to our security.” Rogozin now is the deputy Russian prime minister and is regarded as anti-Western. He oversees Russia’s defense sector.
The implication of preparing to move Russian troops not only is to protect its own vital regional interests but possibly to assist Iran in the event of such an attack. Sources add that a Russian military buildup in the region could result in the Russian military potentially engaging Israeli forces, U.S. forces, or both.
Informed sources say that the Russians have warned of “unpredictable consequences” in the event Iran is attacked, with some Russians saying that the Russian military will take part in the possible war because it would threaten its vital interests in the region.
The influential Russian Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper has quoted a Russian military source as saying that the situation forming around Syria and Iran “causes Russia to expedite the course of improvement of its military groups in the South Caucasus, the Caspian, Mediterranean and Black Sea regions.”
This latest information comes from a series of reports and leaks from official Russian spokesmen and government news agencies who say that an Israeli attack is all but certain by the summer.
Because of the impact on Russian vital interests in the region, sources say that Russian preparations for such an attack began two years ago when Russian Military Base 102 in Gyumri, Armenia, was modernized. It is said to occupy a major geopolitical position in the region.
The Russians believe that Georgia would cooperate with the United States in blocking any supplies from reaching Military Base 102, which now is supplied primarily by air. Right now, Georgia blocks the only land transportation route through which Russian military supplies could travel.
Fuel for the Russian base in Armenia comes from Iran. Russian officials believe this border crossing may be closed in the event of a war.
“Possibly, it will be necessary to use military means to breach the Georgian transport blockade and establish transport corridors leading into Armenia,” according to Yury Netkachev, former deputy commander of Russian forces in Transcaucasia. Geography of the region suggests that any such supply corridor would have to go through the middle of Georgia approaching Georgia’s capital of Tbilisi given the roads and topography of the country.
Full article: Russia Is Massing Troops On Iran’s Northern Border And Waiting For A Western Attack (Business Insider)
Bits of information have been appearing, indicating the essence of Russian military action. Last December it was disclosed that families of servicemen from the Russian base in Armenia have been evacuated to Russia, while the troops have been moved from the capital, Yerevan, north to Gumri – closer to the borders of Georgia and Turkey. The preparation of Russian forces in Armenia for action in the event of military conflict with Iran began “two years ago” (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, December 15).
Large scale “strategic” military exercises Kavkaz-2012 are planned for next September, but it is reported that preparations and deployments of assets have begun already because of the threat of the possible war with Iran. New command and control equipment has been deployed in the region capable of using GLONASS (Russian GPS) targeting information. The air force in the South Military District (SMD) is reported to have been rearmed “almost 100 percent” with new jets and helicopters. In 2008, Kavkaz-2008 maneuvers allowed the Russian military to covertly deploy forces that successfully invaded Georgia (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, January 16).
The above stream of reports by official spokesmen and carried by government news agencies describes the forming of an offensive spearhead force in the SMD facing Transcaucasia. The force is too heavily armed with modern long-range weapons to be exclusively intended to take on the dispersed rebel guerrilla forces in Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria. This week, the Secretary of the Georgian National Security Council Giga Bokeria told radio Ekho Moskvi about the growing threat of a war with Russia (Ekho Moskvi, April 2).
In Tbilisi, the possible threat of a new Russian invasion is connected to the parliamentary elections scheduled for next October and possible disturbances that may accompany them. According to polls, the ruling party of President Mikheil Saakashvili seems to be poised for another landslide victory, while the opposition movement, organized by the Russian-based billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, seems to be failing to gather mass support.
Of course, Moscow would be glad to see the electoral defeat of Saakashvili, but the Iranian war is a much more important issue. The Russian spearhead may be ordered to strike south to prevent the presumed deployment of US bases in Transcaucasia, to link up with the troops in Armenia, and take over the South Caucasus energy corridor along which Azeri, Turkmen and, other Caspian natural gas and oil may reach European markets. By one swift military strike Russia may ensure control of all the Caucasus and the Caspian states that were its former realm, establishing a fiat accompli the West, too preoccupied with Iran, would not reverse. At the same time, a small victorious war would unite the Russian nation behind the Kremlin, allowing it to crush the remnants of the prodemocracy movement “for fair elections.” And as a final bonus, Russia’s military action could perhaps finally destroy the Saakashvili regime.
Full article: The Russian Military Has an Action Plan Involving Georgia if Iran Is Attacked (The Jamestown Foundation)