Prior to the two great wars, the measure of a nation’s strength was the number of colonies it possessed. The colonial powers would use the resources of their colonies to compensate for the damage inflicted by constant wars and entire industries were even built upon that strategy. One the other hand, the nations without colonies often opted for military campaigns against their neighbors in order to occupy new lands. It was during those tumultuous days, map of the world was re-drawn because for many world leaders of that era, war was the only means to economic prosperity and occupation was considered an easier option.
However, things changed after the second half of the 20th Century. It became all but impossible to occupy new lands as many countries gained their independence and democracy became stronger and spread around the world and “developing countries” and “decolonizaton” emerged as a trend. Even though colonies still exist in theory today, things no longer work as they did before. This is the very reason behind the overall concept of forging strategic alliances in today’s world.
The former Soviet Union used to export Russia’s raw materials and industrial products and that built a bridge between the two sides. With industrial development, “energy” emerged as the key factor behind forming alliances. This factor became even more pronounced at the conclusion of the Cold War and with a shift in ideologies.
Keeping in view historical evidence and dynamics of global politics, it would be safe to claim that the ongoing Ukrainian crisis is not likely to ignite another Cold War as many fear.
The European Union’s (EU) dependence on Russian natural resources will never allow it to sever its ties with Moscow. That is the reason behind Russia’s confidence and its actions in Ukraine and Crimea. And perhaps that is the sole reason behind US weak reaction to the annexation of Crimea.
There is a fight for energy and right now, Russia has the upper hand.
The EU needs Russia to meet 30 percent of its total gas needs, which is expected to increase in the coming years. European countries are increasingly worried about this dependence on Russia.
On the other hand, the importation of liquefied natural gas (LPG) from the US could be considered only as a long-term plan because it would require comprehensive infrastructure changes. This is where Turkey comes in with its natural gas corridors.
Turkey, just like the EU, is an energy-dependent country but it also sits on an important intersection. There are three main corridors passing through Turkey:
1. Iraqi oil: It’s been known that Turkey has been carrying out negotiations with the Iraqi Kurdish autonomous region for a very long time. It is likely that the US will have a facilitating influence on the central Iraqi government.
2. The TANAP project: The TANAP project, the result of a Turkey-Azerbaijan deal, is expected to start transferring natural gas to Europe in 2018.
3. Israel-South Cyprus natural gas: In order for the natural gas of the East Mediterranean, which cannot be used at the moment, to be taken to Europe, the Cyprus issue must be resolved.
So what does Russia think about all these delicate balances? The Ukraine problem may only be an energy issue for the western world, but it is more than that for Russia.
The western world has never been able to understand Russia’s point of view, be it in the case of Syria or now in Ukraine. Instead of reassuring Russia that “it will not lose its friends,” the West chose to retaliate with sanctions. This method simply no longer works owing to globalization; Russia is now intertwined with the global economy.
Countries should not isolate others in their quest for solutions to their energy dilemmas. Instead, they should understand that they could solve their problems not with Cold War methods, but with friendship and alliances.
This should not be an energy struggle, but an energy union. Separation leads only to weakness whereas unity will help strengthen and empower all.
- The writer has authored more than 300 books translated in 73 languages on politics, religion and science.
He tweets @harun_yahya