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Traditionally oil and gas from Central Asia have been channelled into the Russian network of pipelines. Russia not only provided a market for much of the energy during Soviet times but also ensured that her will was imposed, cutting off supplies to other countries who defaulted on energy payments, and controlling onward sales and exports to Europe. About 50 % of Russia foreign revenue derives from oil and gas sales. Russia of course would like this situation to continue and wants to expand existing pipeline routes and to develop new links with Central Asia. It also wants to impose restrictions and transit duties on pipeline flow through its territories, in a bit to influence investment patterns, so that the focus of gas/oil field development is shifted to its own Siberian reserves. Currently Central Asian oil is transported north from Kazakhstan through Dagestan and Chechnya to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossisk, or west to the Georgian port of Supsa. .
India and Pakistan have also shown an interest in lines, possibly to run through Afghanistan to Pakistan and possibly onwards to supply India's energy needs, though the current instability in Afghanistan has these plans on hold for the present. It is also doubtful whether India would countenance a pipeline running through Pakistan with the prevailing situation in Kashmir and the constant threat of nuclear conflict.
UNITED STATES & RUSSIA - COMPETING INTERESTS
The USA leads the world in oil consumption of which more than 50% is imported with the demand for oil imports set to increase steadily in the foreseeable future. The US government recognises that dependence for oil imports endangers US national security. This has led to a oil policy aimed at diversification of oil supply to prevent dependence on any one region.
Americans, Europeans, and Russians are all anxious to buy more oil, especially from countries that do not belong to OPEC, and from sources outside the Persian Gulf. The United States is in an ongoing competition with Russia to secure its interests and thwart those of the Russians. The US particularly interested in building pipelines southwards, through Azerbaijan, or west through Turkey, thereby avoiding Russian territory and control. These projects also seek to contain Iran, which has an extensive network of pipelines and provides the shortest, cheapest and most natural exit routes from the region.
To this end there has been an enormous development of US aid and military presence in the region. At the geopolitical level US 'developmental aid' to Central Asia, encourages Central Asian countries to move away from the Russian sphere of influence. At the economic level, the development of the oil industry of these countries means investment opportunities for the American construction and oil companies. Politically and militarily US wants to be in a in a position to control and protect these new important energy resources and diversify its own sources supply. Areadily apparent practical manifestation of these policies is the NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme
Partnership for Peace (PfP) is the basis for practical security cooperation
between NATO and individual Partner countries (19+1). Activities include defence
planning and budgeting, military exercises and civil emergency operations.
The PfP has seen increasing militarisation of Central Asia in the name of 'peace' with Central Asian countries taking part in joint military exercises with US troops stationed in the region. From NATO members point of view:
'the danger to security
is not primarily potential aggression to their
collective (NATO) territory, but threats to their collective interests beyond
.To deal with such threats alliance members need to have
a way to rapidly form military coalitions that can accomplish goals beyond NATO
The NATO PfP force is intensifying on a yearly basis, the implication being that NATO under US leadership will act as a policeman for the region and define the limits of Russian participation.
(Sources: The Geopolitics of Oil in Central Asia, By Constantine Arvanitopoulos, Assistant Professor of International Politics at the Panteion University and Head of Planning at Institute of International Relations (I.I.R.); http://www.hri.org/MFA/thesis/winter98/geopolitics.html; World Press Organisation; http://www.worldpress.org/specials/pp/front.htm)