Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Russian-Georgian Conflict Shifts Energy Supplies from the Caspian Region

One important consequence of Russia's war in Georgia was the suspension of Kazakhstan's and Azerbajan's energy exports through Georgia and their increased reliance on Russia. In the short term Russia has won by increasing transportation of Central Asian and Caspian energy through its territory, as well as by decreasing the reputation of the Russia-free Caucausus energy transportation network by destabilizing it. Russia's energy monopoly has been increased and strengthened.

Since the trend before the war was for Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan to actively expand new energy transportation routes bypassing Russia, this is a significant reversal. This is bad for Ukraine as well, because the Caspian oil that was supposed to be filling the Odesa-Brody pipeline in Ukraine is not going to be forthcoming anytime soon in large enough volumes to fill the pipeline. So, the pipeline will likely continue to run in reverse, delivering Russian oil to tankers in Odesa, which is exactly what Russians want. This is also bad for Europe as a whole, because it has further increased European dependence on Russian and Russian-controlled energy supplies.

Russia has also achieved a significant level of pressure against Azerbaijan, because the Azeris really don't want Russians to destabilize their own frozen conflict zone in Nagorno-Karabakh and have become much more cooperative and compliant with Russia's government after the war.

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