What was the importance of Putin's attendance at the Caspian Summit, beginning on June 29, 2022 and the progress of associated alliances? This was a subject of some interesting speculation in a July 2 edition of The Duran, which I have embedded and transcribed below this introduction. For some time now the US and Russia have had increasing proxy confrontations in Russia's backyard, in the areas around and below the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea.
[UPDATE 7 Nov 2017: Added excerpts from President Rouhani's speech.] I was riveted by this video in its presentation of the antithesis of United States policy in new agreements between Russia and Iran. The video begins with a remarkable political message in the ceremonial exchange of documents of agreement on very important material matters, which should make a big difference to politics in the region - and won't please the United States. These included agreements on nuclear energy transport cooperation, oil and gas exploration, technology and information technology, railway electrification, urban construction and development, trade in the energy industry, visa-free travel for groups between Russia and Iran, and agreement on extradition of convicted persons between the two countries and cooperation on legal affairs. In addition they agreed on mutual cooperation in fighting Islamic extremism, the encouragement of cultural exchange and sports, and working on the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea. This news conference was part of a trilateral meeting of Vladimir Putin, President of Iran Hassan Rouhani and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. Putin and Rouhani appear in the video. You have to be aware of the momentous nature of the agreements in order to appreciate this otherwise somewhat stilted piece of diplomatic theatre. America has been trying to isolate and weaken Iran, which has both considerable oil reserves and a catbird seat on the shores of the oil-rich (if logistically highly problematic) Caspian Sea. America has backed wars in the region, invaded neighbours, and tried to undermine support for Russia in the Middle East because it wants permanent influence there. Obama, in his negotiations about Iran's use of nuclear power, may have been trying to keep some communications open, but Mr Trump has breached all democracy by openly threatening Iran. Iran (now that Syria has been crippled) is the leading technological and socially progressive power in the region, bitterly resented by Saudi Arabia and Israel. Now, apparently ironically, but actually quite naturally, Russia has resealed and expanded its friendship with Iran. In so doing, it has made Iran much more secure. How will the United States, NATO and the EU respond to this?
Russian President Vladimir Putin's speech
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: I would like to thank the President of Azerbaijan for the idea of holding such summits and thank my Iranian colleague for organising the second summit of the leaders of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia.
I believe such regular meetings in this format are very much in demand. They make it possible to coordinate positions on the most acute issues on the regional and international agenda, conduct a constructive search for solutions to shared problems in the sphere of security and the fight against terrorism, and promote trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation.
The main areas of trilateral cooperation are reflected in the Joint Statement that we will sign following today’s summit. I would like to point out several things I consider important.
No doubt, ensuring regional stability and security is one of our principal tasks. It is necessary to improve coordination of the activity of [our] intelligence and law enforcement agencies, establish an intensive data exchange on the activity of international terrorist and extremist organisations, fight drug trafficking and transnational crime, and stop the attempts to transit militants via our countries.
It is important to continue dialogue on Caspian problems – our colleagues just talked about that – and finish the work on the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea as soon as possible.
Needless to say, special priority should be given to promoting mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation. Last year, Russian-Iranian trade was up 70 percent; in the [first] eight months of this year, Russia’s trade with Azerbaijan increased by 62 percent; Azerbaijani-Iranian trade is also marked by stable positive trends.
In order to further stimulate trilateral exports and imports, it is necessary to streamline customs procedures and eliminate the existing barriers to the free movement of goods and services.
We could also consider increasing the share of national currencies in mutual financial settlements, fostering closer ties between financial and banking institutions and getting business communities in the three countries more actively involved [in these processes].
Transport infrastructure offers good opportunities for developing cooperation. I am referring primarily to the initiative of building the western section of the North-South international corridor – our colleagues just talked about that – which is indeed one of the shortest and potentially the most commercially competitive transit routes from South Asia to Europe.
We support Iran’s plans to begin the construction of the last section of the western Caspian route – the Rasht-Astara railway line. The implementation of this project will make it possible to organise transit more effective and reduce delivery costs.
We see good prospects for deepening energy cooperation. Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan are firmly entrenched in leading positions in the world in terms of hydrocarbons production. I believe that joint prospecting and development of oil and gas deposits and the launching of joint projects in energy production and transit are in our common interests.
Building the Russia-Azerbaijan-Iran energy bridge, integrating our countries’ electric energy systems, remains a priority. Putting this initiative into practice would help enhance energy security of the entire region and ensure reliable energy supplies.
Among other much-needed areas I will single out cooperation in such areas as industry, agriculture, high technology, medicine and drug production. Positive examples of such cooperation have already been mentioned.
Considerable attention should be given to cultural cooperation, the implementation of joint cultural programmes, expanding tourism and youth exchanges and sport contacts and promoting the expansion of direct regional ties between the three countries.
Colleagues, I would like to express my confidence that cooperation between Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran will continue to develop steadily, acquiring a systemic and regular nature.
In closing, I would like to invite you to attend the next trilateral summit in Russia.
Excerpts of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s speech:
[Candobetter.net editor: On 7 November 2017, I located excerpts from President Rouhani's speech at https://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2017/11/04/putin-and-rouhani/, where it had republished portions of the article you are reading here. See below:]
President Rouhani said in a press conference after the tripartite summit of the presidents of Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan:
“The three countries aim to build closer ties and take advantage of the capacities of the three countries on the path to economic development and the interests of the nations of Iran, Russia and the Republic of Azerbaijan”.
Thanking the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan for their presence in Tehran, Dr Hassan Rouhani said:
“The summit of the Presidents of Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan is based on the friendship and neighbourhood of the three countries, and this friendship, closeness and geographical and cultural affinity, has made us more determined to make better use of the capacities of the three countries”.
Referring to the decisions made at the Baku-Tehran summits, including in the area of transit between the three countries and the Eurasian region, Dr Rouhani said:
“Within the framework of this transit route, we will connect north to south, and our decision is to connect Bandar Abbas to Helsinki, connecting Asia to Europe and our route is through Azerbaijan, Russia and Eastern and Northern Europe”.
“We also want to deepen relations in the field of road and maritime connections,”
the president added, saying that the three countries on the Caspian Sea coast should use this sea as a sea of peace for the countries of the region and also the sea of development to use the capacities of coastal development.
Dr Rouhani described energy as another potential for deepening ties between the three countries and said:
“Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan, with huge reserves of oil and gas and the good position in the region and the world, should have their own technological cooperation for the production and extraction of oil and gas in this region as well as joint investments in energy and other fields”.
The president also announced a joint program to connect three countries’ electricity networks, saying:
“Our electricity needs to be connected so that we can use electricity of the three countries at different times”.
The third meeting of the presidents of Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan will be hosted by Moscow next year, the president added.
Dr Rouhani also highlighted regional issues as another focal point of the presidents of the three countries and said:
“Closer relations and the role of the three countries in the stability and security of the region, in particular the fight against terrorism, were discussed at the meeting”.
“It is important for Iran and Russia to cooperate in the establishment of stability and security, and in the fight against terrorism, especially in Syria, and the tripartite cooperation of Iran, Turkey and Russia, which is being pursued in Astana,” he continued.
The president added:
“At the summit, all three countries emphasised regional cooperation for regional peace and stability and the fight against terrorism, drugs and organized crime”.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev also said at the press conference that trilateral negotiations between Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan were successful, saying:
“Relations between the three countries are being successfully pursued and we expect a good future for this cooperation”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, also expressed satisfaction with the talks between Iranian, Russian and Azerbaijani presidents, and said:
“I am confident that these cordial and transparent meetings will bring important results and benefits for our nations”.
Referring to the meeting with Dr Rouhani on regional security, he also said that the two presidents discussed Iran’s nuclear issue and the Syrian issue, saying:
“Our cooperation with Iran, especially in the Syrian issue, is very fruitful, and through our cooperation with Iran and Turkey, the fight against terrorism in Syria is going well”.
Anglophone press maintains depressingly low standard of reporting
The bias in Australian news reporting on Russia and the Ukraine is profoundly depressing. There is no responsible analysis of the role of the then 'opposition', with members now in parliament, and the use of snipers to fire at police and protesters alike in provoking President Yannukovych to temporarily leave the Ukraine. [Note I have removed the term 'resignation' because he has not resigned. I apologise for the confusion - Sheila Newman] #fnSubj2" id="txtSubj2">2 There is no acknowledgement of how elected President Yannukovych formally requested Russia's help - or it is mentioned as if it were specious. Although there was an election due within a year, Yannukovych was forced to flee in peril of his life by the forces that put the current illegal government in place. There is no acknowledgement of the validity of a 97% Yes referendum in Crimea to join Russia.#fnSubj3" id="txtSubj3">3 There is no acknowledgement that Crimea already had separate administration within the Ukraine and that the great majority of its population identifies as Russian. There has been an over-emphasis on how a minority group of muslims said they had avoided voting and now complain that their needs were not met by the referendum and an underemphasis on how many voted and what they voted for. Little or no convincing evidence has been given for slurs implying that the referendum was either not legal or not well-managed. There is no acknowledgement of the reasonableness and democracy in calling a referendum, which is an example the increasingly undemocratic Anglophone West would do well to follow. There is hardly any mention in the Australian and other Anglophone press that the parliament of Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov, whom Obama greeted in the Whitehouse almost instantly #fnSubj4" id="txtSubj4">4 and whose government Australia supports in East Ukraine, contains six members with severe fascist and Nazi affiliations, which kind of explains how the use of snipers was part of the campaign to get rid of the elected government. The increasing evidence of US and NATO aligned Western powers provoking the Kiev coup is not being covered in the Australian and other Western press. There is also no mention that President Yannukovych had offered to bring on early elections to give the opposition a chance to win government legally. There is a constant use of the adjective 'aggressive' to describe Russia's actions in going, on invitation, into a largely ethnic Russian Crimea which had voted to rejoin Russia, in a region where European power-grabs threaten hard-won agreements between the many diverse countries involved in recovering and transporting oil and gas out of the Caspian Sea area.
Oil and Gas in the Caspian region near Ukraine and Crimea
Most of all, there has been a glaring failure of Australian and US and other Anglophone news sources and governments to report that getting power over this region means getting power over major oil and gas reserves in the Caspian Sea and pipelines leading from its shared shores through several different countries with destinations as far as Britain #fnSubj5" id="txtSubj5">5 and China. That is why dividing the Ukraine up between Western Europe and Russia is such a big deal.
The Caspian Sea: History, political borders, rights to mine etc.
The Caspian Sea is the largest inland sea. "Geographically, it is a salt-water inland sea or lake covering about 375,000 square kilometres, bordered by the Elburz Mountains of Iran to the south and the Caucasus to the northwest. The Volga River flows into it from the north, forming a large delta near Astrakhan, but evaporation is sufficient to counter the influx, leaving it some 30 meters below world sea level. It is flanked to the north by Russia itself, followed clockwise by Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran, and Azerbaijan. The three "-stans” gained independence following the fall of the Soviets in 1991. Dagestan and Chechnya, which are still Moslem provinces of Russia on the shores of the Caspian, are still seeking their independence, in a vicious campaign attended by many acts of terror. Under international law, ownership of the offshore mineral rights depends on whether it is deemed a lake or a sea. In the case of the lake, they belong jointly to the contiguous countries, whereas in the case of a sea they are divided up by median lines. The matter, which is no small issue, has yet to be fully resolved, but it seems in practice to be moving in the direction of the latter formula. It is worth noting here that Tehran, the capital of Iran, lies only 100km from the Caspian shore, so its role in the future of the region cannot be ignored." (Colin Campbell, "The Caspian Chimera," Chapter 5 in Sheila Newman, (Ed)., The Final Energy Crisis, 2nd Edition, Pluto Press, 2008."
Don't the Australian public deserve to know of the many geological reasons why this area is so politically fraught, instead of being subjected to incredibly superficial theories of ego and ethnicity, when any explanation is offered at all for territorial sensitivity in the region?
There is a fabulous and apocryphal geopolitical context to this vast oil and gas-bearing region that is the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Russia started the first pipeline there in the 1880s in Baku on the edge of the Caspian Sea, with a pipeline which carried kerosene a total of 835km to the Batumi, Georgia, a port on the Black Sea. It was the longest pipeline in the world at that time. Joseph Stalin actually led workers in the oil industry there.
"In the late 19th century Baku on the Caspian Sea was the site of a pipeline to the Black Sea, financed by Rothschild and Shell Oil. Joseph Stalin was a workers' leader there in an atrocious working environment. By the end of the Second World War, established easily accessible wells in the Caspian were less productive and, although the Soviet Union continued some new development there, including the building of off-shore platforms, it focused more on inland resources which did not require investment in offshore drilling equipment." (Colin Campbell, "The Caspian Chimera," Chapter 5 in Sheila Newman, (Ed)., The Final Energy Crisis, 2nd Edition, Pluto Press, 2008.)
Since the late 19th century this area has been the object of colonial exploitation and wars over its mineral wealth, with British and US exploration teams competing against each other and against Russia. President Trueman's duplicitous policies towards Russia and Ukraine are the subject of Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States series (book and films). (See interview of Peter Kuznik, Oliver Stone's co-writer on this material here.) The political behaviour towards the region by the US between the First and Second World Wars was eerily similar to its behaviour today.
These geopolitical features have bred extremely tough political survival behaviour in associated royal and elected governments. The toughness is expressed in authoritarian government and sophisticated international relations with commercial organisations, international finance and international governments. Since the first oil shock in the early 1970s, the oil-exporting countries in this region have attempted to shrug off colonial rulers and assert independence. The political countershock from the West has been to fight those attempts. Gaddafi led the formation of OPEC which coordinated the policies of the oil-producing countries, with the aim of getting a steady income for its member states in return for secure supply of oil to oil importers. His efforts assisted independence amongst member oil-producing countries and a world price for oil. There was a brief period when it seemed that the West might respectfully integrate the leaders of those Eastern independence movements and the oil producing countries, but draw-down on world oil resources, through increased demand and finite supply, ever more expensively accessed, has coincided with escalating aggression on the part of the west. Russia and China, for their parts, are acting defensively to secure their geopolitical links with their neighbours.
Pipeline-linked countries vulnerable targets
Most important in the new problems with Syria and Ukraine and Crimea, is access to pipelines conveying oil and gas resources from the Caspian Sea region through surrounding countries, which have strategic power and risks. The absence of reporting on this crucial aspect of East-West hostilities in the Western media makes the Western powers and their media promoters and corporate supporters look guilty and the populations of Western countries look uneducated and incurious. Coverage from the Teheran Times and Russia Today is far more reality based.
"The recent U.S.-backed coup that toppled the former government in Ukraine has been couched in the noble rhetoric of democracy, humanitarian intervention and self-determination, but a closer examination reveals an ugly underside of realpolitik whose motive is energy dominance. Like Syria, Ukraine has one of the key gas pipeline corridors coveted by the U.S. and its NATO allies that is still under the influence of a so-called R&D (resistant and defiant) country such as Russia.
To understand what is happening in Ukraine and Syria, and how Qatar and Azerbaijan are involved, we must briefly look at regional energy developments following the dissolution of the former Soviet Union. While the Persian Gulf is well known for its abundant energy resources, the Caspian Sea Basin also has seen oil exploration and production since the early 1900s however the U.S. and the West had scant involvement there before the end of the Cold War. Since the breakup of the former Soviet Union, the United States and Russia have engaged in fierce competition to control the energy resources of the newly created Caspian Sea littoral states." Source: "The last Argument of Kings," Tehran Times, March 18, 2014 by stratagem, http://www.phantomreport.com/pipeline-predicament-the-ukraine-syria-russia-u-s-gas-nexus"
Importance of who supplies China with gas
Russia's impending new contract to supply its neighbour China with gas for the next 30 years could be one of the things that caused Western powers to make desperate efforts at this time to get control of the Ukraine in order to influence oil supply contracts in the region. (Gazprom negotiations).
Supplying China has been an important goal of competing powers in the region because whoever supplies China has a very powerful friend. Even though contemporary oil-exploration is done by commercial corporations, states vie to develop and maintain relations with these companies. This need to dominate oil-exploration companies is likewise a major reason for US interference in South American and African politics and for South American states to make friends with Russian, Chinese and African states and their geo-exploration companies. Western powers are trying to destroy these alliances by using their own alliances which include supporting Israeli annexation of territories, amassing of arms, and Saudi Arabian attempts to religiously colonise free Arab states, like Syria.
We should all be trying to get along and to plan to downsize world economy in line with dwindling fuel resources, but half the world is doing the opposite.
State Politics and Fossil Fuel Depletion
There is no doubt that the world's industrial powers are encountering increasing trouble accessing affordable fossil fuel resources. All the signs are there: war, loss of democracy, environmental suicide.
A few years ago, the United States began using huge quantities of explosive material in order to crudely reopen old mines and start new ones in situations which it had not pursued before because of their inherent danger, pollution and landscape costs.
It is naive to accept the spin that the US puts on fracking for shale-oil and gas, by which it implies that it now has abundant fuels to supply growth indefinitely. The reality is that the U.S. has to spend more barrels of oil to get shale oil and gas than were ever required to get oil from wells. The reason the US is going after shale-oil and gas is because most remaining crude oil reserves are now very hard to get to, due to their inaccessible geological position and due to international political competition for these scarce resources. And getting shale oil and gas costs more than energy; it costs democracy and it has the capacity to ruin any resilience in the economy. See "Fracking Democracy". People are protesting across the US at how the government is permitting shale-oil and gas mines to take over their farms. They are afraid of pollution (notably of water), subsidence, and the truly awful scale of mining which is transforming landscape and politics, as well as air, soil and water, with massive emissions of carbon gases. Fracking has been banned in France, although the US-influenced EU is trying to overturn this, as it has overturned French law on use of hormone-based pesticides like Roundup and genetically modified crops. The Western powers have also tried to interest the Ukraine in giving them fracking rights in the Ukraine.
Profligate petroleum users have no place in the 21st century
Unfortunately Australia is unwisely following the United States style on fossil fuel recovery. The EU, which tended to have more conservative, longer-view plans, is at risk of being dragged into the same profligate style due to the growing influence of a US-influenced banking system on the EU and the debts which this has already caused in European countries.
Australia, the United States, and Britain, have all exhausted their petroleum reserves by pursuing policies of economic and population growth in the face of common sense. They have also used an expensive and inefficient commercial approach to exploring for and mining petroleum at home and abroad. As oil geologist, Colin Campbell, put it, western oil-explorers "had to pretend that every borehole had a good chance of finding oil" [in order to attract investors], whereas their Soviet counterparts, "were very efficient explorers, as they were able to approach their task in a scientific manner, being able to drill holes to gather critical information" - which meant that, due to being state-financed, they didn't have to sink lots of unproductive and costly wells.
Colin Campbell describes the difficulties of oil and gas mining in the Caspian Sea, explaining how the countries of the region exploited oil resources that could be more conventionally mined. Much of the oil and gas reserves there are, not only under the sea, but deep under the sea-floor:
"In the years following World War II, they brought in the major producing provinces of the [Soviet] Union, finding most of the giant fields within them. Baku [on the Caspian Sea] was by now a mature province of secondary importance, although work continued to develop secondary prospects and begin to chase extensions offshore from platforms. The Soviet Union had ample onshore supplies, which meant that it had no particular incentive to invest in offshore drilling equipment. The Caspian itself was therefore largely left fallow, although the borderlands were thoroughly investigated. Of particular importance was the discovery of the Tengiz Field in 1979 in the prolific pre-Caspian basin of Kazakhstan, only some 70km from the shore. Silurian source-rocks had charged a carboniferous reef reservoir at a depth of about 4,500 meters beneath an effective seal of Permian salt. Initial estimates suggested a potential of about 6Gb, but the problem was that the oil has a sulphur content of as much as 16 per cent, calling for high-quality steel pipe and equipment, not then available to the Soviets. Development was accordingly postponed. The fall of the Soviet regime in 1991 opened the region to Western investment. " (Colin Campbell, "The Caspian Chimera," Chapter 5 in Sheila Newman, (Ed)., The Final Energy Crisis, 2nd Edition, Pluto Press, 2008.
A more cautious Soviet approach and the difficulty of access due to cold climate has meant that Russia has not used up all its oil and gas supplies. It has a good record of efficiency in the surrounding region. Due to the depletion of traditional oil reserves, the time has come when oil-exploration in these dangerous and icy regions nearby Russia will find finance.
Population policies and entitlement to fuel resources
We could go further and say that, as long as the Anglophone countries insist on growing their populations and their economies - which really means growing their need for energy resources and their output of pollution - and starting wars to fulfill these unwise policies of continued growth - they don't deserve what they are going after. We maybe should include India which, like Australia, as an ex-British colony, has all the problems of the Anglophone system where focused beneficiaries of population growth promote it in flagrant opposition to public opinion. The only obvious solution to the problem of finite resources can be to share remaining scarce resources equitably among polities which agree to stop engineering growth and demand upwards. That is a way to avoid continuing wars. In contrast to the rapid population growth in Anglophone countries and India, Russia's population is not growing fast and China has a responsible population policy.
Fracking and western sabre-rattling in this region
The reason for the civil war in Syria almost certainly lies in the growing desperation by the United States and Europe about maintaining large supplies of cheap oil, in competition with China and Russia, with Russia relatively well-situated geopolitically. The United States trumpets its successful recovery through fracking as a cover but, as explained above, anyone who knows anything about oil knows that fracking oil and gas costs far more oil and gas than earlier methods of retrieving oil and gas, but the industries and governments just aren't revealing how much.
The two inland seas, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea are the sites of major oil and gas exploration, although concerted exploration of the Black Sea is only just beginning, and expectations are modest.#fnSubj6" id="txtSubj6">6 The reserves in the Caspian, however, are enormous, but the question is how much can ever be accessed and mined. These reserves are deep, dirty, dangerous and nearly inaccessible deposits laced with highly poisonous hydrogen sulphide, however they are sufficiently important for commercial and government exploration to have persevered, leading to the construction of extremely long pipe-lines to transport gas across multiple countries, from Baku, Azerbaijan to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey; from Baku via Russia to Novorossiysk on the Black Sea, thence to Western Europe. Accompanying the longest of these pipelines, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, which runs from Azerbaijan through Armenia and Turkey, to the South is Syria, Iraq and Iran, and, above them: Georgia, Russia and Ukraine, with Crimea just above Novorossiysk on the Black Sea. On the other side of the Black Sea is Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria. On the other side of the Caspian Sea from the Russian side are Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan.
The recent coup against the legitimate Ukraine Government has meant that Russia now has to consider building a very expensive new pipeline around the top of the Ukraine to avoid new incursions into its territory bordering on the Caspian Sea.
You can see from the map, "Proposed and actual gas pipelines," (Source: Wikipedia commons circa 2007 but still useful) how difficult it would be for Europeans to impose economic sanctions on Russia, for Russia is an important supplier of gas to the rest of Europe. This is likely to cause a split between America, Saudi Arabia, Canada and Australia, which do not have this relationship with Russia. The United States has, however, recently begun exporting shale gas to Europe, creating an impression that it has huge supplies and hoping to reduce Russia's income from and power derived from supplying Europe in the short term.#fnSubj7" id="txtSubj7">7 In the mean time, it seems the US is actually having problems supplying its own needs:
"U.S. Natural Gas Inventories
Natural gas working inventories fell by 74 Bcf to 822 Bcf during the week ending March 28, 2014. Colder-than-normal temperatures and a few late-season winter storms during the month resulted in increased heating demand, prompting larger-than-normal withdrawals. Stocks are now 878 Bcf less than last year at this time and 992 Bcf less than the five-year (2009-13) average for this time of year. Total stocks, as well as stocks in all three regions, are currently less than their five-year (2009-13) minimums." Source: Energy Information Agency, (EIA), http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/steo/report/natgas.cfm?src=Natural-b1
#fnSubj1" id="fnSubj1">1. #txtSubj1">⇑ Sheila Newman's research thesis for environmental sociology, "The Growth lobby in Australia and its Absence in France" (pdf - 100,000 words plus) , was about differences in the way that Australia and France adapted their population, housing and environmental policies after the first oil shock. It contains an historical comparison of pre-oil shock oil-economics in both countries. Later she was co-editor for the first edition of Andrew McKillop and Sheila Newman, The Final Energy Crisis, Pluto Press, UK, 2006; and sole editor for Sheila Newman (Ed. and Author), The Final Energy Crisis, 2nd Edition, Pluto Press, UK, 2008, which is a collection of her work plus scientific articles by nine scientists in disciplines ranging from particle physics through agriculture to environmental science and one economist. In 2013 she published, Demography, Territory, Law: The Rules of Animal and Human Populations, Countershock Press, 2013. [Paperback and Kindle.] The second in the Demography Territory Law series: Demography Territory Law 2: Land-tenure and the origins of Capitalism in Britain, is due for publication by June or July 2014 and asks whether the confluence of coal and iron in Britain caused its massive population growth, assisted it, or followed on from it, whether capitalism was inevitable and why it happened in Britain rather than elsewhere in Europe.
#fnSubj2" id="fnSubj2">2. #txtSubj2">⇑Ramazan Khalidov and Takeshi Hasegawa, "Ukraine Opposition Behind Snipers in Kiev According to a Leaked Phone Call, Modern Tokyo Times, March 6, 2014; "Recorded call reveals Ukraine opposition snipers, not Yanukovych, fired on protestors in Kiev," PR News Channel, March 6, 2014: "In the second leaked conversation regarding Ukraine in as many months, two top-level diplomats have been recorded discussing a potential bombshell in the crisis in Ukraine.
According to The Guardian, the 11-minute conversation between EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet details new allegations that the snipers who killed protestors in the Ukrainian capital were not agents of former president Viktor Yanukovych, but rather agents of the opposition forces.
"There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition,” Paet said during the conversation. [...] "Following the declaration, Paet went on to mention that the new Ukrainian government has heard the evidence, yet has shown no interest in investigating the claims.[...]"
#fnSubj3" id="fnSubj3">3. #txtSubj3">⇑ Mark Byrnes, "Crimea's Controversial Election Day," The Atlantic Cities, March 17, 2014.
#fnSubj4" id="fnSubj4">4. #txtSubj4">⇑ http://www.platts.com/latest-news/natural-gas/moscow/gazprom-says-expects-to-sign-gas-supply-deal-26644803 Matt Vasilogambros and Marina Koren, "White House: In Meeting With Obama, Ukraine's Prime Minister Embraces the West"National Journal.
#fnSubj5" id="fnSubj5">5. #txtSubj5">⇑ The Nord Stream gas pipeline takes gas to Germany, from where it is transported to Britain and other countries. I am not clear as to whether there are still plans to continue the pipeline underwater to Britain.
#fnSubj6" id="fnSubj6">6. #txtSubj6">⇑ The Black Sea has nothing comparable to the proven reserves in the Caspian Sea, but the need to find oil and gas is becoming so pressing that companies have taken out exploration licences for gas reserves they would previously not have bothered with. The Skifska natural gas field located on the continental shelf of the Black Sea was discovered in 2012 and there are other promising deposits offshore from Ukraine. "At the helm of the new energy diplomacy effort is Carlos Pascual, a former American ambassador to Ukraine, who leads the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources. The 85-person bureau was created in late 2011 by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the secretary of state at the time, for the purpose of channeling the domestic energy boom into a geopolitical tool to advance American interests around the world."
Putin's annual Q&A session 2014 (FULL VIDEO)
We republish from VoltaireNet.org an article which gives the non-Anglophone sourced version of what has been happening in the Ukraine. There are, according to Global Research 6 ultra-right members of a neo-nazi party in the current government, whose Acting Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, was welcomed by Obama on March 12, 2014. Hostility towards their treatment by Russians during the Second World War and the then perception of the German Nazis as a rescue force, underlies some of the anti-semitism and fascist sympathies of Ukraine today. We should not overlook, however, the real energy behind events in this regions, which is the battle between alignments with superpowers, Russia, US, EU, and China, for the difficult to access but tantilising oil and gas reserves in the Caspian Sea, and the power to decide who dominates the countries the pipelines go through and to what destinations future pipelines will go. (Editorial comment by Candobetter.net: Article follows.)
Demonstration of 15 000 nazis in Kiev, the 1st January 2014.
Article below berepublished from VotaireNet.org
[Photo illustration also from VotaireNet.org]
The dominant condescending and appeasing tone towards the new Ukrainian authorities in the West drastically contradicts to its democratic and humanitarian values, persistently promoted by them in the world. Any attentive unbiased observer of the situation in this post-Soviet state and the Western policies in the region cannot help but feel a sense of déjà vu when watching transatlantic public declarations in support of “the legitimate Ukrainian government”, brought to the power and still controlled by the radical ultranationalists representing a scarce minority of the population of Ukraine. Indeed, the raise of Hitler in Germany in the early 1930s was carried out using almost identical political technologies and social instruments as in today’s Ukraine. The careful study of the current developments and diplomatic maneuvers around Ukraine would shed a new light on the origins of the Nazi movement in Germany in the last century as well.
Ukrainian neo-Nazi organizations were the driving force behind the coup d’etat committed in Kiev in late February. The ultranationalist Pravy (Right) Sector, led by Dmitro Yarosh, is the most publicized of them. Yarosh is backed by a number of the neo-fascist paramilitary organizations that make up the “self-defense of Maidan” and sport neo-Nazi symbols (a modified swastika and Celtic cross). They pay homage to the legacy of the war-time Banderite Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists – Ukrainian Insurgent Army and the Galician division of the SS, blasphemously enduing them with “sacred” meaning.
The Svoboda (“Freedom”) Party is the political front for the Ukrainian neo-Nazi movement. It has been the beneficiary of almost half the political appointments made by the “provisional government” in Kiev, and its leader, Oleg Tyahnybok, is one of the three who rose to fame as the “leaders of the Euromaidan movement.” The party won more than 2.5 million votes in the last election (looking at Western Ukraine separately, a large percentage of the registered voters there are already part of this party’s electoral base). According to the party’s program, Tyahnybok’s followers plan to introduce a mandatory “Nationality” category in Ukrainian passports, in order to facilitate the identification of Muscovites and Jews, to extend the right to own firearms to everyone (except the mentally ill), and to insert a provision in the Constitution of Ukraine proclaiming that the current government is the rightful heir to the Ukrainian state that was established by the legal act of June 30, 1941, which stated,
“The new Ukrainian power will work closely with the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, which under the leadership of Adolf Hitler is creating a new order in Europe and assisting the Ukrainian nation to rid itself of its occupiers from Moscow…”
Another point in the Svoboda program is also worth of note – the determination to return Ukraine to the status of a nuclear power and to acquire a “tactical nuclear-missile arsenal.” Can you imagine an independent Ukraine with nuclear weapons and Dmitro Yarosh as its president?
As the German Nazis did in the 1920s and 1930s, the Ukrainian neo-Nazis seized power in the wake of mass riots accompanied by killings. The insurgents characterized even the sluggish response by the legitimate authorities as the “suppression of freedom and terrorism at the hands of Communist Jews.” Attempts of civil resistance against the coup were labeled as “intrigues contrived by the agents of Moscow.” The putschist propaganda, taking advantage of “freedom of speech,” wailed to the whole world about the “suppression of peaceful protests”. And when these howls of protest were not enough, “mysterious snipers” began to assassinate people in downtown Kiev. This is exactly how Hitler and his supporters came to power in Germany. The new regime in Kiev is now idolizing anyone who was seizing administrative buildings with ashow of weapons, beating the political opponents, torturing official, law-enforcement officers and journalists in public. The junta in Kiev and its henchmen are attempting to use force to suppress any popular protests in the southeastern regions, as they tried to do in Donetsk (Eastern Ukraine) on March 13.
The Ukrainian fascists’ massive torchlight processions were borrowed directly from the Nazi playbook and include chanted slogans such as “Ukraine above all,”“Glory to the nation – death to its enemies,” and so on. The black and red Banderite flag that was raised before the Supreme Rada of Ukraine in Kiev is a direct allusion to the black and red flag of Nazi Germany.
The false pathos of a “national revolution” is being forcibly impressed upon the consciousness of the citizens of Ukraine, who have been mesmerized into zombie-like submission by the events on Independence Square. This charade culminated in Kiev in the early morning of Feb.22, 2014 – when the ink was still wet on the agreement to normalize the political crisis, an ambitious, loaded gambit that was “guaranteed” by the foreign ministers of Germany, France, and Poland, plus a representative of the European Union.
The cult of the “Heavenly Hundred” of Independence Square is a direct borrowing from the cult of the “Martyrs’ Movement” in Nazi Germany, although not even Hitler and his cronies during the Beer Hall Putsch hired snipers to shoot at their own. The establishment of absolute control over the media, the repression of political opponents, and the creation of a nationalist psychosis in the country is now being carried out by a regime of Ukrainian nationalsts under the slogan “Do Not Betray the Heavenly Hundred!” The neo-Nazi propagandists declare any departure from the totalitarian methods used to battle dissenters to be a betrayal of the “Martyrs’ Movement.”
The dream of constructing a state that would unify the German nation always held center stage in the mythology of Nazism. And eradicating the Russian language from all realms of life is a high priority for the new regime. The infamous desire for integration into Europe is being cast as a sacred act in the mythology of the new regime, as though it represented an escape to Europe from the “barbaric Asian” hordes from Moscow. There is a deadly irony in the fact that the very word “maidan” is of Asian origin and entered the Ukrainian language as a vestige of the influence left on the culture of Rus’ Minor by the Tartar-Mongol hordes.
The ultranationalist position of the schismatic “Patriarchate of Kiev” and the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic (Uniate) Church has become the religious basis of the supporters of Independence Square and the Ukrainian insurgents who have seized power. But that Uniate Church has a loaded Banderite-Nazi past. The religious and ideological role of the “Patriarchate of Kiev” in the new regime’s frame of referenceis similar to the position that was allocated to Ludwig Müller’s German Evangelical Church by the leaders of the Third Reich. And just as the Nazis set out to create a unified, national Lutheran Church of the Reich, today’s Ukrainian Nazis promote a program that includes the demand for a unified, national “local” Ukrainian church.
The first deeply symbolic act of the new Ukrainian regime was to abolish the law on regional languages, which to some degree guaranteed the basic rights of the ethnically Russian and Russian-speaking majority of Ukraine’s population at the local level. However, Oleksandr Turchynov, the so-called “president of Ukraine” was encouraged not to sign this act. A short break was seen as advantageous for the regime in its fight against the Russians. The new law on languages is now being drafted by the commission chaired by the Russophobe and neo-Nazi Volodymyr Yavorivsky, with the help of the lunatic Iryna Farion. According to one of the committee members, the authors of the new “law” were eager to introduce a “language police” within the country, but, facing European grudge, decided to temporarily delete any reference to the Russian language from the text. (Russian is the primary language spoken in Ukraine.)
The first tentative steps taken by the clique in Kiev have also included a ban on the broadcasting of Russian TV channels and the tacit approval of the destruction of monuments, which the Ukrainian fascists believe are a reminder of the fact that Ukraine and Russia are one. The leader of the Svoboda Party, which has a broad presence in the “provisional government,” has already announced the need to ban public communication in Russian and has offered to make de-Russification one of the nation’s goals, equating it with decriminalization. All of which is the insurgents’ first attempt to test drive their own Ukrainian version of Nazi Germany’s sinister Nuremberg Laws.
The administration of violence and oppression
On March 13, 2014, Ukraine’s national legislative body Supreme Rada (currently unconstitutional), still at the gunpoint of “self-defense of Maidan,” adopted a resolution on the creation of a “National Guard” of 60,000 stormtroopers, whose jobs will include the protection of “public order” (modeled on the German “new order” over its occupied territories) and the suppression of “disturbances” (popular protests) during a state of emergency, as well as assistance to defend the borders (from Russia, naturally), and participation in military operations in the event of war. The“self-defense of Maidan” and Right Sector will make up the backbone of these armed forces.
Just like the German stormtroopers, these battalion, mostly originated from L’vov (Western Ukraine) will be retaliatory and frontline units – analogous to the Waffen SS. In their era, the Nazis quickly got rid of the Wehrmacht generals who dared to oppose the creation and arming of an“Army of the Party.” Using the same game plan, acting “prime minister” Arseny Yatsenyuk did not hesitate to fire three Ukrainian deputy ministers of defense who dared to oppose the lunatic plan to arm Right Sector.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ukrainian Security Service, and prosecutor’s office will soon no longer exist in Ukraine. They have been assigned a single, primary goal – to identify skeptics and dissenters and punish them. Anonymous hotlines are being advertised everywhere, urging vigilant citizens to “snitch” about any “separatists” they may know, telephones are being tapped, email is being hacked, and intimidation with the threat of criminal prosecution and a summons to the Ukrainian Security Service is evident. Undercover agents do not bother to conceal their actions when photographing anyone who shows up for anti-fascist protests. A lustration committee has been created to rid the state bureaucracy of “unreliable elements.” After a blanket amnesty for all the “heroes of Maidan,” up to and including murderers, a wave of new criminal cases were opened against “separatists,”“federalists,” and those who took part in the “seizure” of administrative buildings in the Southeast, etc. A system of unlimited surveillance and persecution is being established at breakneck speed in Ukraine. This system, which is now consolidating all the punitive government agencies, is a Ukrainian version of the German Gestapo.
Those who disagree with the neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine are being so massively persecuted that the country could soon witness another Kristallnacht like the one orchestrated by Nazi stormtroopers in November 1938 throughout Germany.
Should the Russians sit around and wait for this? Currently those who have been summoned for questioning and then thrown into the torture chambers run by the Ukrainian Security Service number in the dozens. Later, there will be hundreds, thousands…
Yet there is no sign that the accomplices of Kievan neo-Nazis sitting in Washington and Brussels regret about their failed strategy of ousting Russia from the Ukrainian affairs. They baselessly believe that the neo-Nazi beast they fed in Ukraine is still leashed…
“Who is in charge of Ukraine today?”, Oriental Review, Voltaire Network, 20 March 2014, www.voltairenet.org/article182840.html
Has capitalism, corporatisation and globalisation corrupted big international aid organisations. Is there some way we can boost the grass-roots activists and reinforce whatever is still working within troubled countries like Syria. And what are we doing there, anyway? AMRIS interview inside.
Vigil for peace, but no forum for discussion
On March 14th 2014 someone convinced me to go to Federation Square to cover the "With Syria" Melbourne Vigil for Peace in Syria. I had thought that this was going to be another politically informative meeting like the 2013 AMRIS forum for peace in Syria, only bigger, involving more groups. It was not until I was on my way that I checked and realised that this was an 'event' rather than a forum and that it was organised by International Aid organisations. But it was too late to turn around.
Highly organised event for spectators
I hoped instead that I would be able to interview any Syrians attending about the worsening situation and the demands by Aid organisations for the UN to get them more penetration into Syria. However, when I arrived, I found that Syrians had stayed away in droves. With the exception of Susan Dirgham (interviewed above) who is the National Co-ordinator for AMRIS, I found no-one there to interview. I did see Bill Shorten, the leader of the Labor Party (currently in opposition in Australia) gliding about in the croud. I thought of going up with my camera and telling him how impressed I was by Anthony Albanese's speech on Syria, and seeing what he had to say, but by the time I had made up my mind, he had appeared and disappeared again like a mirage. In his place, swarms of tee-shirted international aid staff from a variety of organisations buzzed about brightly against the vast grey paved Federation Square, as they set up stalls, red balloons and candles as props for photo opportunities. Officials from international aid organisations spoke repetitively about how Syrians were being turned into refugees, as if no-one there had realised. Why this was happening was not explored. Across Collins Street on the side of the Town Hall was a big electronic announcement saying, "Let's fully welcome the refugees."
Controlling information at the Vigil
I found out that Susan Dirgham had asked organisers at some of the international aid tables for permission to place some of her AMRIS postcards there so that the public could inform themselves about that organisation. She was disappointed to be denied permission to do this. I approached Susan and filmed the interview in the video at the top of this story. Susan told me that the event organisers gave her the reason for her refusal that AMRIS is 'political' with the explanation that International Aid organisations are not. She said she thought that they mean it is 'political' because AMRIS does not support the militarised opposition; it supports efforts for reconciliation in Syria. But, for her, the international aid organisations are political and do support the militarised opposition ('the rebels'). She finds this evident in their failure to condemn the extremist theology of the countries that fund the opposition to the Syrian government and who fight its regular army, supported by outside forces and outside countries, and for not seeing the consequences of this.
For me this was unsurprising, if disappointing, because World Vision, Save the Children, et al, receive financial support from those western external forces that are currently fueling the militarised opposition, and so could hardly be expected to disagree with them and remain in business on the scale at which they operate.
International aid organisations in the global corporate world
Susan noted that people like George Soros and other very very wealthy people fund Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch etc and that these organisations are actually huge corporations in themselves. She added that they have security doors and staff and close their doors to people.
Indeed, they are huge corporations with huge staffs, dependent on vast sums of money to run their affairs and dependent on military forces to give them safe passage into various troubled countries. But they also depend on the mainstream media to publicise their campaigns for finance, so they are not likely to counter the mainstream message. Since most of their funding comes from the West, it is the Western mainstream press they must please.
The Anglophone and Western mainstream press, for its part, promotes aggressive pursuit by the US and its allies of geopolitical territory in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, focused on regional oil and gas reserves, notably around the Caspian Sea and outgoing pipelines. International Aid organisations don't talk about this, but then, how could they, when the international mainstream press and the governments supporting war in Syria don't talk about it either.
This geopolitical resource-grabbing is billed as wars against terrorism and for democracy. But democracy in these cases just means capitalism, and foreign investment and take-over of these countries' resources and trading relationships with their neighbours. These wars produce many refugees. Worse, they produce wars in countries which already harbour many refugees from previous wars in other countries. A 2008 survey by ... found that Syria was host to approximately 1,852,300 refugees, with most from Iraq (1,300,000), but many thousands from the former Palestine (543,400) and Somalia (5,200)  The refugee influx would have contributed to rapid population growth in Syria, which has swelled from 4.5m in the 1960s to 18m in 2004 and 21.1m in 2011. In October 2013 the UNHCR estimated that 2.1m Syrians had become international refugees, whilst around 7m were displaced, presumably within their own country.
Should the big international aid organisations get out of the area?
Am I suggesting that International Aid organisations should get out of the area entirely? My reading would tell me that those that are incapable of working locally with the Syrian government and by using and shoring up the structures in place, probably should. But what a complex area. The most recent book of many I have read on the question of international aid intervention in disaster was Jonathan M. Katz, The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster, Palgrave McMillan, 2013. Katz made the case that such was the undeserved history of Haiti and foreign intervention that you could not expect an uncorrupted government and that Aid organisations should work with whatever incumbent government and structure exists because if their efforts are independent they undermine the economy, and existing organisational structures.
This is a brilliant book on foreign aid in a disaster among many rivetting books on the subject because of the detailed investigation of the sums raised internationally and where they went. The reporter who wrote it was on the ground there when a major earthquake struck Haiti in 2010 and he stayed several years after. He was present when Clinton and others visited and knew the major Haitian politicians and, most important, both recent and long-term political history. He also spoke the creole language. In his book, he makes several really good points, but the one I want to take up is his criticism of Aid agencies tendency to create their own communications and infrastructure over the top of the government's, thus further undermining all established organisation, however good or bad, and all established business, including local food production.
From this, in addition to my earlier studies, I recognised that it does not matter what you think of a government; any government in a disaster is better than none and you can do a lot to help a country by working through its government, employing nationals and reinforcing and maintaining present infrastructure, institutions and routines.
In Haiti the international aid organisations and foreign dignitaries did not do this and the Haitians got hardly any help. A bunch of foreigners got salaries for going in there and making things worse. That's generally the way of foreign Aid; the money goes on salaries, rent, vehicles, infrastructure, corporate running expenses and public relations. There is not much left over to employ locals with or purchase materials from. Ironically, the big foreign aid organisations are very globalist because they associate with globalist governments and they tend to go along with things like the establishment of cheap garment factories etc. In Haiti, foreign financed factories were planned as part of aid committments where the owners would not pay taxes to the Haitian government. The government was operating with almost no money, yet was held responsible promises not kept by foreign entrepreneurs purporting to be part of the aid effort. This kind of thing destabilised an already fragile government system, but could not replace government. You get the same sorts of people, ex-AID organisation people, sitting on the Committee for Melbourne and dictating to ordinary Australians what kind of infrastructure they should have, who should build it for them, and how fast their populations should grow.
Some questions are asked that raise similar points about a refugee camp in Syria in this article by Kim Wilkinson, "Of Dons and Dust, The Economics of the Zaatari Refugee Camp"
 "World Refugee Survey 2008". U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. 19 June 2008.
One impact of Georgia's nose-thumbing Russia has been for the US and Europe to take a step backwards, away from it. This leaves Georgia, not only vulnerable to a Russian take-over, but it also frees Georgia to succumb to Russia.
See also: Russia Never Wanted a War by Mihkail Gorbachev in New York Times of 19 Aug 08 for a view critical of Georgia's role in the conflict.
The US invasion of Iraq was identified by many oil 'peakniks' as the first of the oil depletion wars. Hostilities around Ossetia between Georgia and Russia, identify this region as the second of the oil depletion warzones.
The World’s longest oil pipeline runs through Georgia
Illustration source: http://www.american.edu/ted/ice/ossetia.htm
South Ossetia is a Georgian state, north of Tbilisi, Georgia, where the world's longest oil pipeline - the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline - runs through on its politically and geographically circuitous route to the Mediterranean from the Caspian Sea. The Caspian Sea is the largest closed body of water in an ancient fiery region full of legend, bordering central Asia. It is also an international wildlife preserve, with many threatened species, including the near-extinct Caspian sturgeon (source of caviar and little sturgeons).
(Photo of Caspian Seal from Wikipedia)
The entire pipeline is underground and fascinatingly high-tech, to cope with the climate, seismic, and gravity features of the regions it tunnels through as well as the high wax content of the oil. It is patrolled by US trained Georgian soldiers.  The crude comes from the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli oil field in the Caspian Sea, which has slowly been coming on line since 2005 with Gunashli only beginning production in May 2008.
There has been for a long time conflict as to whether the inland body of water known as the Caspian Sea is a sea or a lake. The political difference is that, if it is a lake, then the hydrocarbons (oils and gases) it produces belong to the countries bordering its shores. These are, clockwise from the port of Baku: Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Iran. If it is a sea, however, such products are divided up by median lines.
Caspian oil and gas
Much has been hoped for from the Caspian's oil and gas reserves.
Their location, however, for many reasons, makes profitable oil extraction especially difficult and probably impossible in many cases.
The highest density of mud volcanoes occurs in Azerebaijan and in the Caspian Sea
Conditions make the region sound like a strange and hostile planet, scorching in summer and frigid in winter. Caspian oil has a super-dangerous high sulphur content which means that workers need to wear oxygen tanks to avoid hydrogen sulphide during exploration and extraction. The water is often ice-bound. The winter climate, as well as wet and freezing, is stormy with severe winds. The site of the most important oil reserves off Kazakhstan, in Kashagan field, are located in shallow water which is hard to navigate, and the deposits are in pockets, inconveniently separated by rock layers, 4.02 km or 2.5 miles below the seabed at pressures around 500 times sea level. It has been necessary to build special platforms and equipment. An offshore gas platform and plant for Stage 2 of the Shah Deniz project was costed at $10 billion plus.
Even if the reserves in the Caspian do prove to be huge, and it becomes possible to extract a good portion, the amount of petroleum and other fuels and materials expended in order to do so mean that the margin for profit is much smaller than with wells in the past. This is just one of the reasons why oil is becoming so dear; the easy to get supplies were taken first; now only obscure and difficult deposits remain. On top of this, demand for an ultimately finite supply is rising daily along with population numbers and economic activity.
Although it is true that the pipeline avoids "using tanker transport along the Black Sea and the highly congested Bosporus, " which a shorter pipeline through Russia would have led to, other, more political reasons, have been highlighted by the August Georgia-Russian confrontation.
It is largely these political associations which caused the pipeline to be much longer than it might have been, adding an estimated $3.20 per barrel to the cost of transporting the oil.
Russia is the big power in the area, yet it has been left out of the pipeline in question. What is more, there are several more pipelines in the … um… pipeline and none of them involve Russia. Prior to this one there was the Baku-Supsa pipeline, which transports oil from Azerbaijan to the Black Sea coast of Georgia. Sohbut Kabuz reports that there is a preliminary agreement for construction of a pipeline to ‘connect Romania's Konstanza port to Italy's port of Trieste.” There is another planned to link Ukraine's Odessa-Brodi pipeline to Poland's Gdansk port in the Baltic Sea, and another to transport Azerbaijani and Turkmen natural gas to Europe via Romania and Ukraine. “All give key roles to Georgia,” Kabuz says. 
But Russia obviously believes that the countries around the Caspian, and their product, should be within its hegemony. Unsurprisingly, it is suspicious of US 'democracy' missions and gifts and influence in the area. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline is not just an insulting symbol, it is actually siphoning oil out of the area beyond the reach of Russian taxes, and more like this are planned.
Logically, a pipeline through Russia and Iran would have made more sense.
On the face of it, the pipeline took a very strange route when there was a much shorter one available with less geologically unstable terrain (high seismic activity). But that route went through Russia or Iran. Although Russia's oil supply appears to have peaked, the US supply peaked ages ago (in about 1973), but the US is a glutton for oil. Obviously the US does not want to deal with Russia any more than it has to. Not surprisingly the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline was the outcome of US influence in the region. The US paid Turkey something like one fifth of the construction costs ($823m) and has been extending its influence via NATO in the area for some time. The pipeline was designed to accommodate an oil throughput of one million barrels per day, which is around 1/87th of recent daily world demand. (EIA stats)
Colin Campbell, thought that the US invasion of Iraq might have indicated that US expectations may have diminished in the light of the many difficulties associated with extraction and transport in the Caspian region. This disappointment factor might explain, in part, why the US cavalry did not come galloping to Georgia's rescue in the latest hostilities.
Sharing the Caspian coastline, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan gained independence following the fall of the Soviets in 1991. Campbell writes in his superbly informed article on this complex subject, “The Caspian Chimera,” that Dagestan and Chechnya reluctantly remain part of federated Russia but “still seek independence, in a vicious campaign attended by many acts of terror. (...) [adding that] “Tehran, the capital of Iran, lies only 100km from the Caspian shore, so its role in the future of the region cannot be ignored." 
The position of Iran vis a vis the Caspian Sea (or lake) also explains some of the US interest in that country. Both Iran and Russia were obviously excluded from any participation in the construction of the pipeline.
China has been negotiating now since at least 2004 with Kazakhstan to build a 750 km extension of the Atasu-Alasankou oil pipeline to connect with the Kenkiyak and Kumkol oil fields, which are operated by China National Petroleum Company in Kazakh. CNPC stated that it expects to obtain about 5 per cent of its current requirements from the pipeline – 400,000 barrels a day. China's interest in the area could overshadow Europe's because the projected growth in demand from China is greater than Europe's.
Azerbaijan and Georgia receive gas from the Shah Deniz project in Azerbaijan. Interruption of supply forced Georgia to purchase gas at very high prices from Russia between January and July 2007. Georgia was desperate to lose its energy — and political — dependence on Russia and hopes that Shah Deniz may allow her to do this for a while. In the current petroleum gas and oil supply scenario, any country which has a reliable supply for a few years into the future becomes a potential magnet for development or for exploitation, and, in this region, US support.
Europe currently relies on Russia for a quarter of its gas supplies. More diverse supplies would be desirable.
Russia has developed a reciprocal relationship with Venezuelan oil in supplying oil to different customers. Chavez in Venezuela has a strong relationship with Cuba and is a strong promoter of Latin American oil and solidarity with non-US states, especially in the third world. Not insignificantly, on 5 August, Putin announced that Russia ought to "restore [its] position in Cuba and other countries." This was after a visit to Cuba in July from Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin. It is well-known that Latin America has good reason to fear interference by the US in its politics and its oil. 
Sorbet Khabuz feels that Russia percieves its old allies as disloyal when they cooperate on oil-ventures with the EU or the US. He says that Putin objected strongly to Kosovo's independence and "was unhappy that the Albanian Macedonian Bulgarian Oil pipeline (AMBO), extending from Bulgaria's coastal city of Burgaz through Macedonia and ending at Albania's Vlora port, would pass through Kosovo." [Referring to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyan pipeline], he notes that, "The pipeline project in question is being actively supported by the EU and the US with the goal of carrying Azerbaijani and Kazakh oil to the Black Sea via Georgia." 
Why did Georgia rattle its sabers?
On the face of it, it seems very unlikely that Georgia would have picked a fight with Russia if the Georgian president had not believed that he would receive backing from the US and Europe. Neither the US nor the EU have the means to enter into serious new wars, however. The US is already involved in Iraq and Afghanistan because of its own dwindling oil and gas supplies. Russia does have a reasonable supply of oil, coal and lots of gas and the capacity to defend itself. It can be very tough about managing its oil exports and it can form alliances with other oil exporters. It has also been suggested that Russia would not like Iran to develop nuclear capabilities and that this would provide a common point with the US.
One impact of Georgia's nose-thumbing Russia has been for the US and Europe to take a step backwards, away from it. This leaves Georgia, not only vulnerable to a Russian take-over, but it also frees Georgia to succumb to Russia.
Of course, Russia has evacuated, for the time being. If, however, we treat the recent (tragic for the civilians who have been victimised) events as a dress rehearsal, we now know that no-one is going to stop Russia from taking Georgia. A respectable ostensible reason may be to unite Georgian South Ossetia with Russian Northern Ossetia. From there it would be but a small step for Russia to assimilate Georgia. This would then solve Russia's problem of being kept out of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyan pipeline and the Baku Supsa pipeline and all the planned pipelines.
Russia has oil and gas, but it has probably passed its oil peak. If Russia were to acquire Georgia it would then control the BTC pipeline and become oil-rich as well as gas-rich. Although the US and the EU won't like buying the oil from their pipeline in Georgia from Russia, they have already shown that they don't intend to go to war over this prospect. The incentives for Russia to take Georgia and the pipeline are enormous; face-saving and energy securing in a region and a world where most powers are receding in their capacity to fuel daily business, let alone wars.
There is an historic pattern of Russia taking over Georgia in exchange for protection from regional enemies, particularly Persia (old name for Iran) and Turkey. From 1810 to 1878, beginning with Western Georgia, most of Georgia was annexed to the Russian Empire, in an association which, after an initial unsettled period, was not too uncomfortable for the land-owning aristocracy of Georgia and probably made little difference to the severely ill-treated serfs. (Georgia freed its serfs even later than Russia did.)
After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Georgia declared independence from Russia. In 1921 the Red Army occupied Georgia and, Georgia remained a Soviet Republic (state) until 1990.
Historically the Caucasus oilfields were one of the main objectives of Hitler's invasion of the USSR in August 1941, but the German army and its allies failed to reach them. Georgia furnished the Red Army 700,000 soldiers (of which 350,000 died). There were, however German sympathisers who formed the Georgian Legion and fought with the Germans.
Political tension in Georgia prior to the Ossetia incident
There have been many historical tensions within post-soviet Georgia, principally from ethnic separatists in South Ossetia. The country has a history of corruption, even in Communist times by Russian standards.
In November 2003 the "Rose Revolution" in Georgia carried pro-Western Mikheil Saakashvili to power. Georgia accuses Russia of fanning separatism in Abkhaszia and south Ossetia in order to undermine Georgia's government. Russia has accused Georgia of spying and vice versa. Russia maintained or maintains two military bases in Georgia, scheduled to be withdrawn in 2007 and 2008. The United Nations has been involved in Peace Keeping in South Ossetia for some time and there are thousands of displaced people in Georgia. In November 2, 2007 Georgians demonstrated against the government, protesting that President Mikheil Saakashvili's government was corrupt. 
Also, if we know the United States, their versions of economic reform and democracy carry very heavy penalties for ordinary people. Wikipedia reports that
"The Georgian Government is committed to economic reform in cooperation with the IMF and World Bank." "Saakashvili is still (2006) under significant pressure to deliver on his promised reforms. Organisations such as Amnesty International have serious concerns over human rights , and discontent over unemployment, pensions and corruption (...).Georgia's relationships with Russia are at it lowest point in modern history due to Georgian-Russian espionage controversy and related events."
Sounds like the usual privatisation and asset-stripping drill that accompanies friendships with the USA to me. See review of Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine
All in all, it might be very hard for Georgia to remain friends with the US if Russia and many of its own citizens did not want it to. Such sentiments are expressed here in a pro-Russian page. And the US doesn't seem all that keen either. One hopes not to see a re-run of situations like the one where the US encouraged the Kurds and Shi'ites to rise up against the Iraqi goverment, but left them to be slaughtered. And was Hussein set up by the US when he asked diplomat, April Glaspie, if Kuwait was important to the US, and she said, "No," and then he invaded, presumably believing that the US would turn a blind eye. After this the US went to the UN and the UN authorised force to get Hussein to withdraw his troops. Hussein agreed to withdraw, but the US seems to have used the opportunity then to attack his troops anyway.
Alternative to war
Instead of war, there may be a different outcome, as oil-writer, Mark Jones suggested :
"It should be borne in mind that the changeover from declining to ascending hegemony can happen - and has historically - not by means of war but with the consent and active participation of the declining power (...) Since the 1939–45 war, the US has in fact made a practice of co-opting present and potential rivals into junior partnership. It has done this not only to Britain, but also to Germany (1960s), Japan (1970s and 1980s) and latterly even to Russia (from 1991).(...)
Of the US situation, he observed,
"If the US has to compete on a level playing field with the rest of the world, then it may find that its urban infrastructure is just as uneconomic and unsustainable as was the Soviet Union’s loss-making effort to base itself on the industrialization of the Urals and Siberia. The US currently uses twice as much energy and raw materials per capita as the EU-15 average, and more than ten times that of China. It is desperately uncompetitive. When the dollar has to be backed up by real values, US per capita GNP may fall by half in just a few years, as in the Great Depression. Under these conditions it is hard to see how the US can hope to maintain its global reach and present hegemonic position. (...)
And, in the case of global war:
If, on the other hand, we are set on a course of global war, which was the outcome for “classic” economic depressions before 1914, and again through 1929–36, then Americans have only a very small window of opportunity (like Hitler enjoyed in 1939) before their military advantage evaporates." - Mark Jones, Battle of the Titans in Sheila Newman, (Ed.) The Final Energy Crisis, Pluto, UK 2008.
See also: Russia Never Wanted a War by Mihkail Gorbachev in New York Times of 19 Aug 08 for a view critical of Georgia's role in the conflict.
Sheila Newman is the editor of Sheila Newman, (Ed.)The Final Energy Crisis, Pluto Press, UK, 2008 which is due out around August 27 in Australia and round about the same time in the US. It should already be available in Britain. It is a collection of scientific, economic and political articles about oil depletion and other fuels and new technologies, including fission, fusion, geothermal, cellulosic biofuels and terra preta, by ten different authors.
 The Caspian Sea is considered an independent zoogeographical region due to the diversity, specificity and endemism of its fauna. Waters of the Caspian Sea house 400 endemic aquatic animal species, including the Caspian seal (Phoca caspica) and sturgeons (90% of the world catch). The sea coast provides important sites for many nesting and migratory birds such as flamingoes, geese, ducks, gulls, terns, swans. Many multinational companies are exploring the region for oil and gas. Source (with interesting descriptions of geophysical features and wildlife: http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/pa/pa1308_full.html
 "Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Caspian Pipeline" at Hydrocarbons Technology com, http://www.hydrocarbons-technology.com/projects/bp/)
 Sohbet Karbuz, “War stirs energy corridor in Georgia,” in Today’s Zaman//www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/detaylar.do?load=detay&link=150151&bolum=109
 Colin Campbell, "The Caspian Chimera," in Sheila Newman, (Ed.)The Final Energy CrisisSecond Edition, Pluto, UK, 2008.
 Sheila Newman, “Venezuela, Chavez and Latin-American oil on the world stage,” in Sheila Newman (Ed.) The Final Energy Crisis, Second Edition, Pluto UK, 2008.
 "Please cast your minds back to 1990. We must remember the complete history of James Baker, the aristocratic Secretary of State to Bush 41. He instructed our ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspy, (remember her?) to tell Saddam Hussein that we had no interest in his fight with Kuwait. Saddam was itching for war with Kuwait whom he accused of slant drilling into Iraq's oil fields. Right after receiving Baker's message sent through Ambassador Glaspy, Saddam invaded Iraq. From that moment on Mr. Baker left April out there turning slowly in the wind. He denied all knowledge of her conversation. (Someone please tell me what lowly ambassador writes their own portfolio?)" Source: Re: Philip Klein's Talking with the Enemy, "Baker's World", The American Spectator, http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=10496
 Mark Jones, Battle of the Titans in Sheila Newman, (Ed.) The Final Energy Crisis, Second Edition, Pluto, UK 2008.