Sunday, August 17, 2008

The true ambition of Russia?

I believe many of you have been shocked by the Russia-Georgia war, having witnessed such horrific events while enjoying the breathtaking spectacle of Beijing Olympics opening ceremony. Russian officials claimed that the war was sparked by Georgia's attempt to retake its Russian-backed separatist province of South Ossetia. However Georgia denies that and says that they are merely responding to repeated attacks by South Ossetian separatists controlled and funded by Moscow. Both countries have their own story to tell but what I believe is the true goal of this war is for Russia to expand her power by gaining control of the most valuable resource on Earth -- Oil.

The map above shows the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline which runs through Georgia and extends from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. You can observe that the pipeline is strategically located to bypass both Russia and Iran. It is not difficult to conclude that the BTC pipeline allows the various republics which separated from USSR to deliver their petroleum to the world market without Russia getting in the way. If Russia could find a chance to attack Georgia and "accidentally" destroy the BTC pipeline, it could greatly boost the political might of Russia, who already provides a quarter of Europe's oil supply.

Back in 2002 when the construction plans for the BTC pipeline was announced, Russia did not have the power to oppose the United States and the world to prevent the building of the pipeline. It would also have been foolish for Russia to attack the pipeline directly. So Russia patiently bided her time, stirring up separatist movements in South Ossetia and provided assistance to the republic in various ways. Finally, the perfect opportunity to attack Georgia arrived; 8/8/08, the start of Beijing Olympics, and United States' military forces were greatly weakened by the Iraq war. With the world distracted by the Olympics and US' forces too divided, Russia successfully carried out their plans and defeated Georgia in a short span of five days.

Just like Sun Tzu said, "He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight". Choose the right timing to attack and you can achieve your goals quickly.

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