Georgia Conflict - Open Thread
The Georgian conflict seems to continue at this time, with no direct impact on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, which is not far from the fighting. These are a few articles I noticed about the conflict:
Georgia has no significant oil or gas reserves of its own but it is a key transit point for oil from the Caspian and central Asia destined for Europe and the US.
Crucially, it is the only practical route from this increasingly important producer region that avoids both Russia and Iran.
The 1,770km (1,100 miles) Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which entered service only last year, pumps up to 1 million barrels of oil per day from Baku in Azerbaijan to Yumurtalik, Turkey, where it is loaded on to supertankers for delivery to Europe and the US. Around 249km of the route passes through Georgia, with parts running only 55km from South Ossetia.
The West, in particular America, has stoked the regional fire. At the NATO summit in Bucharest this year it pressed for Georgia and Ukraine’s membership of the alliance. The move was blocked by the Europeans but NATO did give a commitment to offer the two countries membership later. That move was seen in Moscow as a challenge to its dominance in what it calls the "near abroad," the former Soviet republics.
Since then Russia has made clear in word and deed that it will do anything to prevent NATO’s expansion on its western and southern flanks.
"The conflict has potentially serious implications for Russian-U.S. relations, and Russian-Western relations," said Dmitri Trenin, deputy director of the Carnegie Center in Moscow. "The Russians are watching intently what the U.S. will do, as an indication of how the U.S. will pursue its relationship with Russia going forward."
Russian warplanes on Saturday bombed two villages in the Georgia-controlled part of the Kodori gorge, cutting deep into Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia, prompting the United States to voice its concerns over the "dangerous escalation" of the crisis. Georgia approved state of war for 15 days and called for an "immediate ceasefire."
Overnight, Russian warplanes bombed the Vaziani military base on the outskirts of the Georgian capital and near the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said. He also said two other military bases were hit, and that warplanes bombed the Black Sea port city of Poti, which has a sizable oil shipment facility.