Capital Once Again Sets the Caucasus on Fire

Communist Party of Spain (Marxist-Leninist)

Once again the Caucasus region has become a scene of confrontation between great powers.

On repeated occasions, our Party has referred to the attempt of Yankee imperialism to tighten the net around Russia: the recently concluded agreement with Poland and the Czech Republic to establish an anti-missile shield in the area, as well as the attempts, so far unsuccessful, to integrate Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, were clear examples of this.

On this occasion, with at least the consent of the U.S., their Georgian ally, the Mafioso Mikhail Saakashvili, set out to massacre the population of South Ossetia (which is in favour of joining Russia), an attack that was also a warning to the equally rebellious region of Abkhazia. The Russian response, in defense of both its peacekeeping troops that were stationed there as well as of its citizens in Ossetia, was not long in coming and was more forceful than expected, leading to the destruction of key military installations in different cities of Georgia, in a harsh counter-offensive.

Naturally, contradictory reports were put out by both sides, regarding both attacks against the civilian population and non-military infrastructure, as well as the use of prohibited weapons. However, we must emphasise the shameful role of the Western press, which has brazenly supported Washington’s version, gradually developed by the U.S., systematically hiding the responsibility of Georgia in beginning the conflict and exceeding even the position of the leaders of the EU, who quickly but in a ‘friendly’ manner have worked to obtain an agreement among the opposing parties, conscious of what they were risking.

The aggression has concluded, for the moment, in a draw, in which the U.S. (with the support of France and the United Kingdom) is trying to go back on the agreements for the cease fire, while the Russians have suspended their collaboration with NATO, increased the area controlled by their troops in Georgia and opened the ‘Pandora’s box’ of the future status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. With the blocking of any possible solution in the UN, the immediate result of Saakashvili’s adventure will therefore be a precarious equilibrium, filled with uncertainties about the future of his country and, of course, of its population.

However, the key point of the clash is not just political. As Medvedev stated, ‘we will never let anyone kill our citizens, soldiers and peacekeeping officers unpunished. Russia has economic, political and military options for that.’ In effect, with its response Russia has expressed more than its anger at Western policies in Kosovo, or at the expansion of NATO. Russia has shown that it is in a position to begin to recover its influence and to intervene effectively in the shaping of international politics, on the three fronts mentioned.

It is clear that this was a political and diplomatic victory of Moscow over Washington: it has ‘bruised’ the Georgian Mafioso ally of the U.S.; it has opened the door to the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia under its tutelage, before the entrance of Georgia into NATO; and it has paid the U.S. back with interest for the slap in the face it received in Kosovo, leaving Bush without arguments against the future independence of those two regions. As for the EU, the division of opinions that already occurred at the Bucharest Summit regarding Russia has been consolidated. Although the United Kingdom, France the Baltic Republics and Poland are aligned with the U.S., Condoleezza Rice could not impose U.S. authority at the extraordinary meeting of the NATO Council, called on August 19 at the demand of the U.S., to ‘put Russia in its place’. The Alliance did not accept Bush’s proposal to reduce its links with Russia, nor was it willing to accelerate the incorporation of Georgia, which is the goal the U.S. is seeking as a result of the conflict.

On the military level, the clash in Georgia can be related to the struggle that the U.S. and Russia are maintaining, with the clear predominance of the former, but in which Russia is preparing to advance its positions: besides its military collaboration with Byelorussia, Moscow is trying to renew its military presence in Cuba, as was announced just a few days before the Georgian attack against South Ossetia; with this, the Russians ‘moved their piece’ under the pressure of the U.S. deploying its missile shield in Poland; their Foreign Minister also stated that ‘we will have to react, and not only with diplomatic protests’. The demonstration of force in Georgia faced with Saakashvili’s aggression can therefore be a warning of what Russia will not tolerate in the future.

But the touchstone, the unifying element of all these contradictions is undoubtedly the economic one. The resolution with which Russia has faced the crisis, going way beyond assuring its Ossetian citizens, has the same profound causes as the attitude of Washington’s European allies: economic interests. Russia, which is extending its economic influence around the world thanks to trade agreements and investments, makes up a third of its Gross Internal Product with its profits from oil and gas, which are primarily purchased by the European Union. In fact, the commercial trade between Russia and the EU is some seven greater times than that between Russia and the U.S. These figures explain the relative coolness with which the Europeans and the Russians have carried on their relations in the last weeks, above all within NATO in relation to the U.S. Besides, the Europeans should look favourably on the fall of an element such as Saakashvili, who is not very good for their business; and, with him, the loss of influence of the U.S. in the Caucasus, which complicates the relations between Russia and the EU.

However, the strategic importance of Russia for the transport of hydrocarbons, both their own as well as those from the Caspian region, has diminished since the opening in 2005 of the BTC [Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan] oil pipeline, that connects Azerbaijan with Turkey, passing through Georgia. Currently, besides, countries such as Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and probably Uzbekistan are trying to escape from the dependence on Russia’s gas lines, leaning toward Turkey (via Armenia), a country that is trying to put an end to Gazprom’s status as the only buyer of Central Asian gas, with the approval of Israel. Without a doubt, the deepening of the instability in Georgia contributes to making the transport of hydrocarbons through the BTC less attractive, and serves to show the EU (and its oil companies and the BTC stockholders) that their best option is Russia. As Konstantin Simonov, General Director of Russia’s National Energy Security Fund, stated: ‘this situation increases the attractiveness of the Russian routes of supplying energy resources to Europe’. Thus the war in Georgia would have as a result, whether consciously or not, of definitively dissuading Europe from using the corridor from the Caspian Sea and Central Asia via Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia. Moreover, the Russian demonstration can serve as a ‘warning for seafarers’, directed at the other former Soviet republics of the region to maintain their economic and political links with Moscow, after years of Yankee penetration.

Finally, without forgetting that the origin of the conflict was the aggression by the Georgian chauvinist State, backed by the U.S., we cannot forget that at the base of the problem are the inter-capitalist contradictions, the fight for access to and control of strategic regions for the extraction and transport of hydrocarbons. And that is the fundamental reason not only for the pressure and the aggressiveness of the U.S. and its main allies against Russia, but also of the latter’s efforts to respond to the attacks and to build new alliances.

For the Self-Determination of the Peoples and Against Capitalist Looting

Imperialists Out of the Caucasus!

Madrid, August of 2008
Communist Party of Spain (Marxist-Leninist)
Secretariat of the Central Committee

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