Friday, April 28, 2006

Russia Playing the Oil Card

The Russians have been successfully check-mating the United States of late in the effort to dissuade Iran from obtaining a nuclear capability. The continuing impasse has continued to fuel rising oil prices on international markets. While the Russians have openly declared that they are opposed to Iran’s development program, they are also opposed to the use of economic sanctions or military force to accomplish the goal. So, what is left? Nothing, really, other than moral persuasion.

Without Russia’s support, the UN Security Council will not be able to act. If anything is to be done, NATO will have to assume full responsibility.

Why is Russia blocking the US and Western Europe? Part of the answer lies in Moscow’s desire to deconstruct the current world order from US (or potentially a US/EU) hegemony into a multi-polar order in which Russia is a major player. A nuclear Iran could potentially assist in the process.

A more complete picture begins to take shape, however, when one considers Russia’s complaints about US and European insistence that it sell rights to the pipelines through which it provides natural gas to the EU. The Russians believe they are being treated unfairly, arguing that the West would not accept similar conditions. More importantly, however, the Russians calculate that world energy prices have given them a strong hand to play vis-à-vis Europe and the US at present and into the foreseeable future. They intend to press their advantage while global oil and natural gas prices remain high in order to obtain a better deal, politically and economically, on a whole host of issues. They will also do everything possible to keep those prices high.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Clark rocks.