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Gas era Russia
Material posted: -Publication date: 22-12-2011

Recent months, the main generator of news in the field of politics and economy remains Europe. The rapid increase of problems in the economies of several Eurozone countries are pulling for the political issues.

Against this background, some dissonance looked demarche associated with the United States ignoring Russia's proposals on missile defense, and the preservation of the anti-Russian course on the deployment of the European segment of this system. This step in the escalation of the situation in the military-strategic sphere in the conditions of severe economic crisis the EU initially, it may seem strange, but a slightly broader analysis helps to identify several root causes of what is happening.

First of all, the analysis shows that today the US is extremely concerned about the ongoing shifts in military policy and geo-strategy – the crisis of the EU in the near future could result in the crisis of NATO, as the European partners of the USA less and less able to fulfil their obligations within the Alliance. However, this is not the worst for Washington. A much more serious problem today, according to the Pentagon, coming to NATO from Russia. And not in the traditional sphere of military-strategic confrontation to fight, in which, in fact, created NATO, and in non-traditional military region economic warfare. Evidence of this, in particular, are the results of the study "Natural gas as an instrument of state policy of Russia", published in October of this year by the Institute of strategic studies Army war College the United States.

According to the authors of the study, today slow revival of Russia, despite the continuing weak capacity of its armed forces, is playing an increasingly important threat to the global dominance of the United States. Today, analysts of the Pentagon is forced to admit that Russia in the XXI century, several not that Russia, as it was at the end of the twentieth century. Then after a series of destructive "democratic" reforms the country has been recorded by them in the category of "failed state" and for the next decade was not for the USA and NATO is a potential threat. However, the past decades have significantly changed the situation and forced today to evaluate it quite differently.

First of all, changed the geo-strategic context. In recent years has become particularly evident that the era of oil is nearing completion. A statement of this fact and adopting it as one of the axioms in the scenario planning Pentagon analysts, forcing them to radically revise the forecasts on the development situation in the world in the coming decades.

The current system of world order is set up so that "the blood of civilization, the oil is controlled by military and economic might of the United States. From the stage of exploration and production, to refining and formation of sales markets of finished products – the whole cycle of today is controlled by American companies. Today, the U.S. markets determine what will be the price of oil tomorrow. Today, us banks form the main financial indicators calculated for contracts on the stock markets. Today the American military machine controls more than 60% of the oil-bearing regions of the Earth.

Since the conquest victory oil over coal during the First world war the whole future of geopolitics the XX century were built around major oil fields. For example, Hitler believed necessary condition for the successful campaign against the Soviet Union to maintain control over the Romanian oil regions, as the success of the red Army largely depended on the maintenance in the hands of the Grozny and Baku oil fields. The crisis in relations with the Arab world in the 70-ies of the last century have put the United States on the brink of a deep economic crisis. The collapse of the Soviet Union is largely due to the rigid policy of the United States and Arab sheikhs, led to a dramatic reduction in the cost of oil in the late 80-ies of XX century.

In General, modern industrial civilization is "oil world". And the whole system of world order after world war II lined up in such a way as to ensure control and direct access to most of the world's oil reserves. The United States was in this race the winners – that they were able to build a coherent and clear system of control over the oil market: from issues of legal support to the infrastructure of the market and the provision of military pressure on "recalcitrant".

But the situation changed in the first years of the XXI century – it was then clearly realized that the recoverable oil reserves are running out, and alternative energy sources (such as biofuels, wind energy, etc.) cannot be used on an industrial scale.

In the current situation will inevitably first in the fuel hierarchy was occupied by natural gas. This hydrocarbon is the most viable substitute for ending oil. It is estimated that the gas has a number of advantages that contribute to more consumption. Expanding the use of relatively cheap gas allows to obtain higher rates of economic development. It is the most environmentally friendly source of energy. Its reserves far exceed supplies of oil and will meet the needs of modern civilization (if the current rate of consumption), at least for another 250 years.

However, the changing role of natural gas, output it to a leading position in the world, according to Pentagon analysts, will inevitably entail a redistribution of the entire system of world order. It wouldn't be "world of oil", in which the US has taken a dominant position, and it will be a "world of gas" in which the US position is very weak.

The specificity and radical difference of the oil market and the gas market not suggests that accumulated to the rule of in the "world of oil" military-political potential can be used to achieve dominance in the "world of gas". First, the gas is distributed more evenly around the world than oil. It requires much more effort and resources for control of large fields. Gas is now supplied to the market mainly via pipelines and the role of gas in the economy of the countries consuming it, is very high. This binds the consumer to the supplier countries much stronger than is the case for oil consumers. And indeed the infrastructure and rules of the gas market of the last decade was developed without the participation of the United States. Russia belongs to the palm in this matter. Russian Gazprom today is a trendsetter in the organization of the gas market.

The US desire to somehow influence what is happening has resulted in the intensification of research in areas related with the extraction and supply of natural gas. A filing with the US are now actively developing such sectors as the supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and shale gas. However, according to experts of the Pentagon, none of these technologies today can not compete with the technology of natural gas extraction: LNG requires very expensive infrastructure of the liquefaction and subsequent gasification, and shale gas is extremely dangerous for the environment.

All of the above leads analysts of Institute for strategic studies to the conclusion about the inevitable growth of Russian influence in the coming decades.

Already today, the existing system of bilateral gas contracts destroys the unity not only of Europe, but NATO. Most members of the bloc today are consumers of Russian gas, and, given the prospects of moving away from nuclear energy, this dependency will only increase.

So, according to experts, if you do not take active and effective measures, then already by 2019 from Russian gas will be affected 91% of its supplies in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. This will give Russia the opportunity not just to determine the pricing policy in the gas market, but will allow it to use this tool as an effective lever of political pressure. The inability to diversify gas supplies, will make the most of Europe hostage to a situation when it becomes impossible to talk about achieving consensus in matters of military strategy and the use of NATO. Russia, with its powerful military potential, only economic measures are already able to destroy NATO as a single mechanism that implements a modern geostrategy.

Since the launch of "Nord stream" the situation has deteriorated significantly, and alternative ways of delivery, in particular NABUCCO, never became more real.

Today, the US administration is not so much time to try and if not change, then at least to stabilize the situation with the preservation of their interests.

The return to power in the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin, who was at the forefront of the new Russian geopolitics, will complicate the situation. That's why Washington today so hurry up. We are witnessing the intensification of anti-Russian movements in Central Asia, aimed primarily at disrupting the agreements of Moscow with Turkmenistan, as well as complication of deliveries of Central Asian gas through the Russian pipeline system to the European market. The case against Yulia Tymoshenko in Ukraine also has a "gas spirit" - a public trial of one of the former heads of state, who signed the gas contracts with Russia should be a lesson for anyone in the future decides to strengthen gas ties with Russia.

As for geo-strategic level, Washington is extremely concerned about the alignment of the triangle Russia-Iran-China. Formed, such a system would combine the two largest suppliers of natural gas and the second power army in the world that will make the situation even more dangerous for the United States.

Consequently, relying on certain in the study of American military analysts theses, you can take a small excursion into the distant future and to predict the basic dynamics of world politics.

First of all, the United States will insist on the avoidance of preserving the system of bilateral gas contracts for Europe with Moscow. According to the United States, Europe today needs to be United on the question of relations in the gas business with Russia. However, it will be difficult to achieve, since in conditions of economic crisis the European countries will be happy to settle with Russia if only to get the necessary for economy of gas at a price slightly below the market.

The United States will insist on the continuation of active use on the European market of shale gas and the expansion of the LNG infrastructure, which will also come up against problems of economic, but also environmental.

USA will continue their attempts to revitalize the NATO by forcing such projects as a PRO. In this case, the States will need to bind the European participation in these projects to substantial economic assistance. However, this will only be temporary measures – developing economy, each time will require more energy for their development, and the United States today willing to assume the economic problems of the countries of the Eurozone, even NATO allies.

The United States will continue to strengthen its efforts towards preventing the normalization of relations between Russia and Iran. The Union on the gas market in these countries today will be the actual demise of NATO, since most of the member countries of the bloc is now firmly tied to the Russian gas supplies.

As for Russia, its political leadership come difficult times. Political pressure will grow from year to year. Input into operation of the pipeline infrastructure will become the object of attention of competitors – this does not exclude the possibility of subversive and terrorist actions against infrastructure gas projects Nord stream and South stream. The growing threat will require the revision of some provisions of the national security strategy. Together with the more global developments – shifts "century of oil" to the "age of gas" from Russia will need incredible strength, balance in decision-making and the choice of allies, a desire to hold those positions, which are largely due to the fate of today are in our hands.

Tags: assessment , Russia , USA

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