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February 3, 2007 / Mridul

Cold War For Oil

During the Cold War days, the USSR and the USA tried to get as many countries as possible onto their sides forming a number of military blocs. Well, Russia lost at that time but now it is preparing to come back and this time with a somewhat different but highly effectively weapon, Oil & Natural Gas.

Not that Russia is secretly building a weapon centered around oil or natural gas, but Russia certainly is trying to form blocs with the countries having rich reserves of oil & natural gas. Russia is looking at the possibility of forming close partnerships with countries having vast proven reserves of oil & natural gas.

Lately Russia has been flexing its muscle to threaten the continuous supply of oil & natural gas to hugely dependent European countries. Belarus and Georgia suffered heavily from the power show that Russia presented to the world, but the main audiences to the show were the Americans. Russia enjoys a total monopoly over the region’s energy scenario as it has the world’s largest reserves of oil & natural gas. With Russia being the only source from which Europe gets its energy, the former Soviet Union seemed to be returning some favors which it was unable to do since the apparent end of the Cold War.

America is thirsty for oil – said President George W. Bush during his address to the Congress. While America has the military might and the money to fight illegitimate wars for control over the world’s oil, Russia lacks both of them. So Russia is trying to do what it failed to do properly during the Cold War, forming blocs with countries which really matter. America is spending hundreds of billions of dollars for the war in Iraq but it hasn’t got anything out of it, so this strategy didn’t impress the Russians.

Right that Russia does not have the military might & money to fight wars or even think about it, but it certainly has something which America carves for, oil & natural gas. So Russia is out to find some ‘friends’ in this latest round of the Cold War for energy. Talking to Iran and Qatar, Russia wants to form an organization on the lines of the OPEC. Together these three hold about 55.8% of the world’s proven reserves of natural gas, with Russia alone holding about 26.6%.

The image of USA, in the Middle East, has suffered a serious hit after the much criticized invasion of Iraq and its approach towards the degrading law & order situation there. Russia seems to be taking advantage of this situation. Russia has come out strongly against any harsh sanctions on Iran and has been ably supported by China (another country in need of energy to fuel its rapidly growing economy). China too has interest in Iranian gas and so is India which is looking towards signing a pact for laying a pipeline through Pakistan to get the Iranian gas.

Unlike the US, Russia wants to get hold over oil & natural gas through peaceful but decisive ways. With Latin America too dominated by anti-American leaders, their alliance with Russia over oil & natural gas won’t be a highly surprising development. Russia wants to hit America where it hurts the most. It will now be interesting to see how the US tackles Russia’s tactics using oil & natural gas as an instrument to change the order of the world.

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