text: Lev Skripin , exclusively for Gazeta.kz
Negotiations between Russia and Iran on the nuclear programme of Teheran started on February 20 in Moscow. Moscow is proposing to create a JV for the Iranian uraniium enrichment on the territory of Russia, which would calm down the West.
Observers believe that it is probably the last chance for preventing a new regional war - that of the USA against Iran.
The first day of the talks showed the difficulty of the talks. They continued much longer than it had been expected. Russian media say that Vladimir Putin is following the talks attentively…
Now matter how odd it may sound, but this political intrigue can bring about political consequences that are quite far from the conflict between Iran and the USA: a further rapprochement between Kazakhstan and Russia.
If the USA does start a military action against Iran, the Caspian, luckily for us will not become a frontline of this war. But it will not become a zone of peace and tranquillity either. The rules of modern war require a fast and comprehensive action against the enemy. Strikes on the Iranian military infrastructure on the Caspian are quite possible. What is unpleasant for Kazakhstan is in this case the future of the investment projects on the Caspian shelf?
And this is where the Russian Caspian Navy can play a big positive role for us.
At the official talks on division of the Caspian Sea, the issue of delimitation was raised regularly, but it has never been actually implemented. Moreover, virtually all littoral states have been increasing their military presence on the Caspian. Russia has gone further than others in this. Several years ago it launched a powerful torpedo-boat destroyer without equals in this closed sea. Two years ago Russia held military manoeuvres that were estimated by the littoral states, Kazakhstan included, as an unprecedented demonstration of military might. "There have not been such manoeuvres here even in the Soviet times," -one Kazakhstani political scientist said. He added however that in the Soviet times there was no need for that - the Caspian was actually an internal sea of the USSR. "Russia has shown by this that in any geopolitical projects - pipelines, transportation - if is Russia that will guarantee the geopolitical security," - he said.
But now it may be also viewed from a different angle. The Russian Navy presence on the Caspian from a potential conflict factor is becoming in this concrete situation a stabilising factor.
It is hard to imagine that the US military plans include military actions near Russian battleships, which could trigger unpredictable political consequences.
Of course, in the last few years there were examples when the USA simply ignored all others starting its punitive raids against other countries, but now the situation is completely diverse from the one that existed on the eve of bombardments of Belgrade, Afghanistan, or invasion into Baghdad.
The growth of anti-American sentiments in the world, especially in the Islamic countries is unlikely to drive Washington against Moscow.
Any coin has two sides and the military presence of Russia on the Caspian could become a restraining factor for the military activities in the region. It is actually a very suitable occasion for remembering the CSTO ally undertakings between Kazakhstan and Russia. We are speaking only about the diplomatic side of this alliance, of course…
In the case of a military conflict between Iran and the USA, the importance of oil transportation from Kazakhstan to foreign markets through Russia is likely to grow.
The CPC pipe still has unloaded capacities and the entire Russian oil pipeline system is quite far from the areas of potential military actions of terrorist acts.
Besides, the future of Aktau port as an important transportation node in West Kazakhstan will be under doubt in the case of a conflict between Iran and the USA, especially if it becomes protracted (which it is likely to become.)
The Russian Navy presence on the Caspian Sea is an absolutely positive factor although it does not take away all problems. The Caucasus can potentially be drawn into the conflict and then we will be able to ship all cargos from Aktau only to Russian ports.
By the way, if the conflict actually begins it will be long. We can see that Americans cannot control even the territory of Iraq. Iran is much bigger in its territory, population, and the anti-American sentiments are much stronger there. All this guarantees instability and widespread guerrilla, even if the USA manages to occupy Iran. It would seem, why should it matter for us? But there will be indirect effects - the construction of a Western-type railway through the territory of Kazakhstan - from China to Turkey to Turkmenistan and Iran - becomes risky. Who will invest money into such construction and send cargos by this railway, even if it is "tied" to the transmarine transportation through the Caspian? It gives more arguments to those, who support projects of a railway from Kazakhstan through Russia.
This conflict of other countries (let us not analyse here its reasons and rightfulness of its sides) is capable of influencing interests of Kazakhstan significantly. And for Russia as well, even if the US-Iranian conflict would not be fatal for it.
Astana and Moscow are getting closer in view of this possible conflict - it is an efficient foundation for strengthening alliance between our two countries. To some extent, such situation could become the first manifestation of our ally relationship in reality, not in political statements or documents. Although it would be more preferable if this opportunity does not eventually present itself…
The collage was taken from www.liter.kz
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09.01.2013 2012 marked by multiple events in Kazakhstan