Introduction: The GUAM Summit
In early July 2008, a regional summit
was held in the Georgian city of Batumi under the auspices of GUAM
GUAM is a military agreement between
Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova, first established in 1997.
Since 2006, following the withdrawal of Uzbekistan, GUAM was renamed:
The Organization for Democracy and Economic Development - GUAM.
GUAM has little to do with "Democracy
and Economic Development". It is a de facto appendage of NATO. It
has been used by the US and the Atlantic Alliance to extend their
zone of influence into the heartland of the former Soviet Union.
The main thrust of GUAM as a military
alliance is to "protect" the energy and transportation corridors, on
behalf of the Anglo-American oil giants. GUAM countries are also the
recipients of US-NATO military aid and training.
The militarization of these corridors
is a central feature of US-NATO planning. Georgia and Ukraine
membership in NATO is part of the agenda of controlling the energy
and transport corridors from the Caspian Sea basin to Western Europe.
The July 1-2, 2008 GUAM Summit Batumi
meetings, under the chairmanship of President Saakashvili, focused
on the central issue of pipeline and transportation corridors. The
theme of the Summit was a "GUAM – Integrating Europe’s East”,
from an economic and strategic-military standpoint, essentially with
a view to isolating Russia.
The presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia
and the Ukraine (respectively Ilham Aliyev, Mikheil Saakashvili and
Viktor Yushchenko) were in attendance together with the presidents
of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, and Lithuania, Valdas Adamkus. Moldova's
head of State flatly refused to attend this summit.
Map No 1:
The GUAM Summit agenda focused on
undermining Moscow's influence in the Caucasus and Eastern Europe.
The Polish President was in attendance.
US-NATO installations in Eastern
Europe including the Missile Defense Shield are directly related to
the evolving geopolitical situation in the Caucasus. Barely a week
after the bombing of South Ossetia by Georgian forces, the US and
Poland signed an agreement (August 14) which would allow the US Air
Force to deploy US "interceptor missiles" on Polish soil:
"... As military strategists have
pointed out, the US missiles in Poland pose a total existential
threat to the future existence of the Russian nation. The
Russian Government has repeatedly warned of this since US plans
were first unveiled in early 2007. Now, despite repeated
diplomatic attempts by Russia to come to an agreement with
Washington, the Bush Administration, in the wake of a
humiliating US defeat in Georgia, has pressured the Government
of Poland to finally sign the pact. The consequences could be
unthinkable for Europe and the planet. " (William Engdahl,
Missile Defense: Washington and Poland just moved the World
closer to War, Global Research, August 15, 2008)
The "US-GUAM Summit"
Barely acknowledged by the media, a
so-called "US-GUAM Summit" meeting was also held on July 1st on the
sidelines of the official GUAM summit venue.
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of
State David Merkel met both GUAM and non-GUAM delegations behind
closed doors. Several bilateral meetings were held including a
Poland GUAM meeting (during which the issue of the US missile
defense shield on Polish territory was most probably addressed). Private
meetings were also held on July 1st and 2nd at the residence of the
US-Georgia War Games
Barely two weeks following the GUAM
Summit of July 1-2, 2008, US-Georgian military exercises were
launched at the Vaziani military base, outside Tbilisi,
One thousand U.S and six hundred
Georgian troops began a military training exercise under Operation "Immediate
Response". US troops included the participation of the US Air Force,
Army, Marines and National Guard. While an Iraq war scenario had
been envisaged, the military exercises were a dress rehearsal for an
upcoming military operation. The war games were completed on July
31st, a week before the onset of the August 7th Georgian attacks on
Troops from Ukraine and Azerbaijan,
which are members of GUAM also participated in Operation "Immediate
Response" Unexpectedly, Armenia which is an ally of Russia and a
staunch opponent of Azerbaijan also took part in these games, which
also served to create and "train and work together" environment
between Azeri and Armenian forces (ultimately directed against
Brig. Gen. William B. Garrett,
commander of the U.S. military’s Southern European Task Force, was
responsible for the coordination of the US-Georgia war games.
Gen. William B.
Garrett and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili
Russia's War Games in the North
Russia began large-scale military
exercises involving some 8,000 military personnel, some 700 armored
units and over 30 aircraft ( in the North Caucasus republics of the
Russian Federation on July 5th. (Georgian Times, July 28, 2008)
The Russian war games were explicitly
carried out in response to the evolving security situation in
Abhkazia and South Ossetia. The exercise, dubbed "Caucasus Frontier
2008", involved units of the 58th Army and the 4th Air Force Army,
stationed in the North Caucasus Military District.
A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman
acknowledged that the military exercises conducted in the Southern
Federal District were being carried out in response to "an
escalation in tension in the Georgian-Abkhaz and Georgian-Ossetian
conflict zones,...[and] that Russia’s North Caucasian Military
District was ready to provide assistance to Russian peacekeepers in
Abkhazia and South Ossetia if needed.” (Georgian Times, July 28,
July 5, 2008)
These units of the North Caucasian
Military District (Army and Air Force) were subsequently used to
lead the Russian counterattack directed against Georgian Forces in
South Ossetia on August 8th.
A central issue on the GUAM-NATO
drawing board at the July GUAM Summit in Batumi, was the
Odessa-Brody-Plotsk (Plock on the Vistula) pipeline route (OBP)
(see Maps 3 and 4), which brings Central Asian oil via Odessa, to
Northern Europe, bypassing Russian territory. An extension of OBP to
Poland's port of Gdansk on the Baltic sea is also envisaged.
It should be noted that the OBP also
links up with Russia's Friendship Pipeline (Druzhba pipeline)
in an agreement with Russia.
Washington's objective is ultimately
to weaken and destabilize Russia's pipeline network --including the
Friendship Pipeline and the Baltic Pipeline System (BPS)--
and its various corridor links into the Western Europe energy market.
It should be noted that Russia has
established as part of the Druzhba pipeline network, a pipeline
corridor which transits through Belarus, thereby bypassing the
Ukraine. (See Maps 2 and 3 below)
The Baltic Pipeline System (BPS) also operated by Russia's Transneft
links Samara to Russia's oil tanker terminal at Primorsk in the Gulf
of Finland. (See map below) It carries crude oil from Russia's
Western Siberian region to both North and Western European markets.
Another strategic pipeline system,
largely controlled by Russia, is the Caspian Pipeline
Consortium (CPC). The CPC is a joint venture arrangement
between Russia and Kazakhstan, with shareholder participation from a
number of Middle East oil companies.
The Baltic Pipeline System (BPS) is
tied into the Atyrau-Samara (AS) pipeline, which is a joint venture
between Russia's Transneft and Kazakhstan's national pipeline
operator, KazTransOil. The AS pipeline in turn links up with the
Russia-Kazakhstan Caspian Petroleum Consortium (CPC), which pumps
Tengiz crude oil from Atyrau (Western Kazakhstan) to the CPC’s
Russian tanker terminal near Novorossiysk on the Black Sea.
On July 10, 2008, barely a week following the GUAM Summit, Transneft
and KazTransOil announced that they were in talks to expand the
capacity of the Atyrau-Samara pipeline from 16 to 26 million tons of
oil per year. (RBC
Daily, July 10, 2008).
The GUAM Transportation Corridor
The GUAM governments represented at
the Batumi GUAM Summit also approved the further development of
The GUAM Transportation Corridor (GTC), which complements the
controversial Baku Tblisi Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline. The latter links
the Caspian Sea basin to the Eastern Mediterranean, via Georgia and
Turkey, totally bypassing Russian territory. The BTC pipeline is
controlled by a oil consortium led by British Petroleum.
Both the GTC and the BTC corridors
are protected militarily by GUAM and NATO.
The GTC corridor would connect the
Azeri capital of Baku on the Caspian sea to the Georgian ports of
Poti/ Batumi on the Black Sea, which would then link up with the
Ukrainian Black sea port of Odessa. (And From Odessa, through
maritime and land routes to Western and Northern Europe).
Map No 2: Strategic Pipeline Routes. BTC,
Friendship Pipeline, Baltic Pipeline System (BPS), CPC,
Map No. 3. Russia's Druzhba pipeline system
Map No 4 Eastern Europe. Plock on the Vistula
The Baku Tblisi Ceyan (BTC)
The BTC pipeline dominated by British
Petroleum and inaugurated in 2006 at the height of the war on
Lebanon, has dramatically changed the geopolitics of the Eastern
Mediterranean, which is now linked, through an energy corridor, to
the Caspian sea basin:
"[The BTC pipeline] considerably
changes the status of the region's countries and cements a new
pro-West alliance. Having taken the pipeline to the
Mediterranean, Washington has practically set up a new bloc with
Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Israel, " (Komerzant, Moscow, 14
No 5. The Baku, Tblisi Ceyan pipeline (BTC)
Pipeline Geopolitics and the Role of Israel
Israel is now part of the Anglo-American military axis, which serves
the interests of the Western oil giants in the Middle East and
Central Asia. Not surprisingly, Israel has military cooperation
agreements with Georgia and Azerbaijan.
While the official reports state that
the BTC pipeline will "channel oil to Western markets", what is
rarely acknowledged is that part of the oil from the Caspian sea
would be directly channeled towards Israel. In this regard, an
underwater Israeli-Turkish pipeline project has been envisaged which
would link Ceyhan to the Israeli port of Ashkelon and from there
through Israel's main pipeline system, to the Red Sea.
The objective of Israel is not only to acquire Caspian sea oil for
its own consumption needs but also to play a key role in re-exporting
Caspian sea oil back to the Asian markets through the Red Sea port
of Eilat. The strategic implications of this re-routing of Caspian
sea oil are farreaching.
What is envisaged is to link the BTC
pipeline to the
Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline, also known as Israel's Tipline, from
Ceyhan to the Israeli port of Ashkelon. (For further details, see
Michel Chossudovsky, The War
on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil, Global Research, 26 July
No 6. Trans-Israel Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline
America's Silk Road Strategy: The
Trans-Eurasian Security System
The Silk Road Strategy (SRS)
constitutes an essential building block of US foreign policy in the
post-Cold War era.
The SRS was formulated as a bill presented to the US Congress in
1999. It called for the creation of an energy and transport corridor
network linking Western Europe to Central Asia and eventually to the
The Silk Road Strategy is defined as
a "trans-Eurasian security system". The SRS calls for the "militarization
of the Eurasian corridor" as an integral part of the "Great Game".
The stated objective, as formulated under the proposed March 1999
Silk Road Strategy Act, is to develop America's business empire
along an extensive geographical corridor.
While the 1999 SRS legislation (HR
3196) was adopted by the House of Representatives, it never became
law. Despite this legislative setback, the Silk Road Strategy became,
under the Bush Administration, the de facto basis of US-NATO
interventionism, largely with a view to integrating the former
Soviet republics of the South Caucasus and Central Asia into the US
sphere of influence.
The successful implementation of the
SRS required the concurrent "militarization" of the entire Eurasian
corridor from the Eastern Mediterranean to China's Western frontier
bordering onto Afghanistan, as a means to securing control over
extensive oil and gas reserves, as well as "protecting" pipeline
routes and trading corridors. The invasion of Afghanistan in October
2001 has served to support American strategic objectives in Central
Asia including the control of pipeline corridors. Afghanistan border
onto Chinese Western frontier. It is also a strategic landbridge
linking the extensive oil wealth of the Caspian Sea basin to the
The militarization process under the SRS is largely directed against
China, Russia and Iran. The SRS, called for:
"The development of strong
political, economic, and security ties among countries of the
South Caucasus and Central Asia and the West [which] will foster
stability in this region, which is vulnerable to political and
economic pressures from the south, north, and east. [meaning
Russia to the North, Iraq, Iran and the Middle East to the South
and China to the East]
(106th Congress, Silk Road Strategy Act of 1999)
The adoption of a neoliberal policy
agenda under advice from the IMF and the World Bank is an integral
part of the SRS, which seeks to foster "open market economies... [which]
will provide positive incentives for international private
investment, increased trade, and other forms of commercial
Strategic access to South Caucasus
and Central Asian oil and gas is a central feature of the Silk Road
"The region of the South Caucasus
and Central Asia could produce oil and gas in sufficient
quantities to reduce the dependence of the United States on
energy from the volatile Persian Gulf region." (Ibid)
The SRS is also intent upon
preventing the former Soviet republics from developing their own
economic, political and military cooperation ties as well as
establishing broad ties up with China, Russia and Iran. (See Michel
America's "War on Terrorism", Global Research, Montreal, 2005).
In this regard, the formation of GUAM,
which was launched in 1997, was intended to integrate the former
Soviet republics into military cooperation arrangements with the US
and NATO, which would prevent them from reestablishing their ties
with the Russian Federation.
Under the 1999 SRS Act, the term "countries
of the South Caucasus and Central Asia" means Armenia,
Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan,
Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. (106th
Congress, Silk Road Strategy Act of 1999).
The US strategy has, in this regard,
not met its stated objective: Whereas Ukraine, Azerbaijan and
Georgia have become de facto US protectorates, Kyrgyzstan,
Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Armenia and Belarus are, from a geopolitical
standpoint, aligned with Moscow.
This extensive Eurasian network of
transport and energy corridors has been defined by Washington as
part of an American sphere of influence:
"In the Caspian-Black Sea Region,
the European Union and the United States have concentrated on
setting up a reliable logistics chain to connect Central Asia
with the European Union via the Central Caucasus and Turkey/Ukraine.
The routes form the centerpiece of INOGATE (an integrated
communication system along the routes taking hydrocarbon
resources to Europe) and TRACECA (the multi-channel Europe-Caucasus-Asia
The TRACECA transportation and
communication routes grew out of the idea of the Great Silk Road
(the traditional Eurasian communication channel of antiquity).
It included Georgian and Turkish Black Sea ports (Poti, Batumi,
and Ceyhan), railways of Georgia and Azerbaijan, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan
oil pipeline, ferry lines that connect Turkmenistan and
Kazakhstan with Azerbaijan across the Caspian Sea/Lake (Turkmenbashi-Baku;
Aktau-Baku), railways and highways now being built in
Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and China, as
well as Chinese Pacific terminals as strategically and
systemically important parts of the mega-corridor." (See
GUAM and the Trans-Caspian Gas Transportation
Corridor: Is it about Politics or Economics?),
The Kazakhstan-China Natural
Gas Pipeline (KCP)
Barely a few days following the GUAM
Summit in Batumi, China and Kazakhstan announced (July 9, 2008) the
commencement of construction work of a 1,300-kilometer natural gas
pipeline. The inaugural ceremony was held near Kazakhstan's capital
The pipeline which is to be constructed in several stages is
expected to start pumping gas in 2010. (See
silkroadintelligencer.com, July 9, 2008)
"The new transit route is part of a larger project to build two
parallel pipelines connecting China with Central Asia’s vast natural
gas reserves. The pipes will stretch more than 7,000 kilometers from
Turkmenistan, cross Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, and enter China’s
northwestern Xinjiang region. Uzbekistan started construction of its
part this month while Turkmenistan launched its segment last year."
Map No 7. Kazakhstan-China natural gas pipeline
China’s National Petroleum
Corporation (CNPC) which is the leading operator of the consortium,
"has signed deals with state oil and gas firms of Turkmenistan,
Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan giving them 50 percent stakes in their
respective parts of the pipeline."
The KPC pipeline project encroaches upon US strategic interests in
Eurasia. It undermines the logic of America's Silk Road Strategy.
The KPC is part of a competing Eurasian based transportation and
energy strategy, largely dominated by Russia, Iran and China.
Competing Eurasian Strategy protected
by the SCO-CSTO Military Alliance
The competing Eurasian based
corridors are protected (against US-NATO encroachment) by two
regional military alliances: the
Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the
Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)
The SCO is a military alliance
between Russia and China and several Central Asian former Soviet
republics including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and
Uzbekistan. Iran has observer status in the SCO.
Treaty Organization (CSTO), which plays a key geopolitical role
in relation to transport and energy corridors, operates in close
liaison with the SCO. The CSTO regroups the following member states:
Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and
Of significance, since 2006, the SCO
and the CSTO member countries have conducted joint war games and are
actively collaborating with Iran.
October 2007, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and
the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) signed a Memorandum of
Understanding, laying the foundations for military cooperation
between the two organizations. This SCO-CSTO agreement, barely
mentioned by the Western media, involves the creation of a full-fledged
military alliance between China, Russia and the member states of SCO/CSTO.
It is worth noting that the SCTO and the SCO held joint military
exercises in 2006, which coincided with those conducted by Iran. (For
further details see Michel Chossudovsky, Russia and Central Asian
Allies Conduct War Games in Response to US Threats, Global Research,
While remaining distinct from an
organizational standpoint, in practice, these two regional military
alliances (SCO and SSTO) constitute a single military block, which
confronts US-NATO expansionism in Central Asia and the Caucasus.
The US-NATO protected SRS Eurasian
transport and energy corridors, are slated to link Central Asia to
the Far East, as outlined in the Silk Road Strategy. At present, the
Eastward corridors linking Central Asia to China are protected
militarily by the SCO-CSTO.
In terms of Washington's global
military and strategic agenda, the Eurasian corridors contemplated
under the SRS would inevitably encroach upon China's territorial
sovereignty.The proposed US-NATO-GUAM pipeline and transportation
corridors are intended to connect, at some future date, with the
proposed transport and energy corridors in the Western hemisphere,
including those envisaged under the North American Security
Prosperity Partnership (SPP).
The Security Prosperity Partnership (SPP)
is to North America what the Silk Road Strategy (SRS) is to the
Caucasus and Central Asia. They are strategic regional constructs of
America's business empire. They are the building blocks of the New
The SPP is the result of a similar
process of strategic planning, militarization and free market
economic integration, largely based on the control of strategic
resources including energy and water, as well as the " protection"
of energy and transportation corridors (land and maritime routes )
from Alaska and Canada's Arctic to Central America and the Caribbean
Author's Note: This article has focused
selectively on key pipeline corridors with a view to analyzing broad
geopolitical and strategic issues.
An examination of the overall network of Eurasian pipeline corridors
would require a far more detailed and comprehensive presentation.
War in the Caucasus: Towards a Broader Russia-US
Military Confrontation? - by
Michel Chossudovsky - 2008-08-10
is the author of the international
America’s "War on Terrorism"
Global Research, 2005.
To order Chossudovsky's book
America's "War on Terrorism", click here