Best source on Russian foreign policy speaks dismissively of the charge by Saakashvili of Georgia that Russia was behind the simultaneous explosions on three gas pipelines and one electric line over the weekend that pushed Tblisi and much of the U.S.-mission-critical state of Georgia into dark cold.
Puzzle is what caused the so-called explosions?
Consider accident. Russia’s infrastructure is pasted together, and pipelines blowing up in a violent cold snap is Soviet-age believable. Then again, the gas lines are Gazprom’s, who did the coordinated turn down of gas a few weeks back through Ukraine into Europe (unless it was Gazprom thugs stealing in Ukraine); so perhaps it was just a Gazprom failure.
Consider terror. The natural gas lines into Georgia pass through North Ossetia, which is the neighborhood of the Chechen attack dogs.
Russia, ignoring Saakashvili’s antics, asserts the strike was those rascally mass murdering Chechens who hit the lines. True or not, this is a significant assertion, because Russia is at the same time telling the oil-hungry West that massive, expensive, Russian-led security is needed to guard pipelines in the Caucuses. Russia is not thinking just of Gazprom lines. The biggest pipeline in the area is the South Caucasus Pipeline that is coming on line in summer 2006 to connect the Caspian Sea and the Azerbaijan fields to Turkey and the Black Sea. The Baku-Tblisi-Turkey line will be a major energy source for Europe. The South Caucasus Pipeline security becomes European security.
And only Russia can guarantee the Caucasus — if, and only if, the West keeps out of the continuing genocide in Chechnya, if, and only if, the West bends a knee to the new power at the Kremlin.
Also, what else could this convenient accident-terror incident tell the West?
Is Russia telling the West that the South Caucasus Pipeline should have been built through Russian-controlled territory? Is Russia telling the West not to toy with beggarly confused hysterical Georgia? Is Russia reminding NATO not to proceed to invite Georgia and the larger misbehaving Ukraine ?
It is inarguably deep wintertime in the Caucasus in the 21st Century. Also inarguably, the Little Father (Kremlin) is in control of the Great Game.