/ politics

Proxy wars

I was recently made aware of a possible future proxy war between Azerbaijan (Russia backed) and Armenia (US backed). Both countries were part of the Russian Empire, broke away towards the end of the Empire, were soon after absorbed again by the Soviet Union and again broke away when the Soviet Union dissolved. On both occasions when they broke away from Russia, they went to war with each other over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. This region is part of AZ, borders on AR and has a majority Armenian population. Technically the countries are still at war, although not actively over the last two decades or so.

I started investigating this today by following Adam Curry's lead: start by looking at natural resources, in particular oil, gas and the pipelines used to transport them. I'm already turning up all kinds of interesting information. For starters, the major AZ pipeline from the Caspian sea through Georgia and Turkey (South Caucasus Pipeline) is conveniently routed around Armenia. This pipeline is planned to be linked up with the Nabuko network into Europe and is owned by a consortium with European countries having a majority stake (Russian Lukoil has a 10% stake, Gazprom has none).

On the other hand, AR's pipelines come in from Russia (through Georgia, Gazprom owned) and Iran (majority Gazprom owned) So the pipelines in the Russian backed country are owned primarily by Europe, while those in the US backed country are owned almost entirely by Russia, with Iran in the mix. Gazprom already has done some of its shenanigans by making sure the Iran-AR pipeline was reduced in size, presumably to ensure the dependence on Russian gas.

But it gets more interesting. I just came across an article (or rather, a newspaper scan of this article) that claims AZ is offering Georgia to supply about half of it's gas consumption for a little over half market price. In exchange, Georgia will have to hand over their pipeline network to SOCAR (AZ State Oil Company, the second largest participant in the South Caucasus Pipeline). Pipelines that are currently controlled by Gazprom!

This looks like a European power-grab to me, with Russia on the receiving end...