There are major world-happenings going on as Russian tanks roll into Georgia and the price of oil drops over $4.00 per barrel. Usually, in a crisis like this, the price of oil would be heading up, not down. Is this about the oil pipeline and oil being supplied to the west or is Russia trying to show its authority under their new president?
In probably the most serious regional crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, at least 50 Russian tanks – and possibly many more – rumbled through the Roki tunnel, which cuts through the Caucasus mountains separating South Ossetia from the Russian province of North Ossetia.
Russia sent columns of tanks and reportedly bombed Georgian air bases Friday after Georgia launched a major military offensive to retake the breakaway province of South Ossetia, threatening to ignite a boarder conflict. Russia moves into the Georgian province of South Ossetia today, vowing to protect its citizens in a move described by Tbilisi’s pro-Western Government as an act of war.
Russian T-90 Tank Photo Credit: Russian Military
The area is of strategic importance, largely because of the BTC oil pipeline, which runs through central Georgia just south of the breakaway region. The pipeline, which features in the 1999 James Bond film The World is Not Enough, pumps around one percent of global crude supplies from the Caspian to the Turkish port of Ceyhan for export to Western Europe but is already closed because of an attack in Turkey last week by the Kurdish separatist organisation PKK.
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.
Tensions between Georgia and Russia have been rising over the last few months over South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Georgia, which borders the Black Sea between Turkey and Russia, was ruled by Moscow for most of the two centuries preceding the breakup of the Soviet Union. Georgia has angered Russia by seeking NATO membership—a bid Moscow regards as part of a Western effort to weaken its influence in the region.
Georgia accuses Russia of fermenting trouble in both regions and supporting the separatist governments as a way to put pressure on Georgia and foil its attempts to join Nato. Russia has given out passports to a majority of South Ossetians and Abkhazians.
More information on this invasion: Read this
Additional Reading: What does the conflict between Georgia and Russia mean to the west? Read this
Additional Reading: Energy pipeline that supplies the west threatened? Read this