THE EMERGING RUSSIAN GIANT PLAYS ITS CARDS STRATEGICALLY
The Emerging Russian Giant
Plays its Cards Strategically
By F William Engdahl, October 20, 2006
On October 10, Russian President Vladimir Putin flew to the German city of Dresden for a summit on energy issues with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. On the agenda were proposed plans to more than double German import of Russian natural gas. Putin told the German Chancellor that Russia would ‘possibly’ redirect some of the future natural gas from its giant Shtokman field in the Barents Sea. The $20 billion project is due to come online 2010. Putin’s Dresden talks followed an earlier summit in Paris in late September with Putin and French President Chirac and Merkel. A week after his Dresden talks, the Indonesian Navy Chief of Staff announced a remarkable shift away from that country’s traditional purchases of NATO military equipment. Indonesia will buy twelve modern Kilo-Class and Lada-Class Russian submarines. Indonesia cited advantages of cost and reliability over NATO French or German equivalents.
These developments underscore the re-emerging of Russia as a major global power. The new Russia is gaining in influence through a series of strategic moves revolving around its geopolitical assets in energy—most notably its oil and natural gas. It’s doing so by shrewdly taking advantage of the strategic follies and major political blunders of Washington. The new Russia also realizes that if it does not act decisively, it soon will be encircled and trumped by a military rival, USA. The battle, largely unspoken, is the highest stakes battle in world politics today. Iran and Syria are seen by Washington strategists as mere steps to this great Russian End Game.
In recent years major attention has been paid to the emergence of a China economic colossus. What is generally missing in these discussions is the fact that China will not be able to emerge as a truly independent global power over the coming decade unless it is able to solve two strategic vulnerabilities—its growing dependence on energy imports for its economic growth, and its inability to pose a credible nuclear deterrence to a US nuclear first strike.
Russia is the one remaining power which still has sufficient military deterrence potential in its strategic nuclear arsenal, and is expanding same, as well as abundant energy to make a credible counterweight to global US military and political primacy. A Eurasian combination of China and Russia and allied Eurasian states, essentially the states in and around the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, do present a potential counterweight to unilateral USA dominance. An understanding of recent Russian developments in this light is essential to understand United States foreign policy as well as global politics at present.
Russia`s Strategic Dilemma
Since the devastating setbacks two years ago from the US-sponsored ‘color revolutions’ in Georgia, and then Ukraine, Russia has begun to play its strategic energy cards extremely carefully, from nuclear reactors in Iran to military sales to Venezuela and...