Georgia and the Balkans of Eurasia
In the 1990s, countries that had not been in the news in Western media since World War ii suddenly burst onto front-page headlines. Up to that time, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro were historical place names that appeared on very old postage stamps, largely unknown places in a Europe of yesteryear. They were but historic spots on a map that had become walled in behind the Iron Curtain that descended on Eastern and Southern Europe after Soviet tanks had rumbled right up to the gates of Berlin at the close of the Second World War.
Still further to the east and south, other nations that had hardly been heard of since the Russian Revolution of 1917 emerged from the suffocating Soviet era to once again feel their oats.
One of the regions of which most in the West remain profoundly ignorant is that known as the Transcaucasus. Briefly popping in and out of the news as a result of localized wars and skirmishes over recent decades, events of the past two weeks have thrust that region into the headlines.
The problem is, like events that transpired in the Balkans in the 1990s, the truth surrounding these events is swallowed up so often in a cloud of political and journalistic deceit. Sadly—but inevitably—media coverage of events in Georgia has been greatly skewed away from reality by certain political interests, the mix of editorial policies of media moguls, plus the too often vacuous commentary from a press corp significantly uneducated in the facts.
The Transcaucasus region, located northwest of Asia Minor, is bordered by Russia to its north and Iran to the south, with the Caspian Sea on its eastern flank and the Black Sea and Turkey to the west. The Caucasus is to Russia, Turkey and Iran what the Balkan Peninsula is to the European Union. It is the crucial crossroads through which cross-border trade and communication transit through Eurasia.
Both the Balkans and the Caucasus are especially strategic regions of tremendous importance to bordering countries economically and in terms of regional security. Both are populated by peoples of differing ethnicity, religion and politics such that tensions ebb and flow, often ending in bloody turf wars. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, each has been exploited by competing foreign powers seeking to further their own interests within the post-Cold War world order.
At issue in Georgia is a crucially strategic east-west corridor between the Black and Caspian seas opening access to the flow of Caspian oil.
By virtue of the propaganda peddled by Western interests (due to their support of the illegal involvement of Anglo-America and nato in the Balkan wars of the 1990s), until very recently the Balkan Peninsula has enjoyed a much higher media profile than the Transcaucasus region. Comparable volatility within the Transcaucasus (witness Nagorno-Karabakh and Chechnya since the 1990s) has had much less press exposure in the West than that within the old Yugoslavian countries. This, no doubt, is due to a greater degree of ignorance, in Anglo-Saxon eyes, to the crucial strategic value of this region as compared to the Middle East, in respect to the supply of oil and gas.
The principle difference between the Balkans and the Caucasus is that the latter features a much more complex mix of peoples than the former. Though much has been made since the 1990s of the apparent discordant mix of ethnicity, religion and culture that is said to exacerbate divisions among the peoples of the Balkans, the Caucasus is a far more complex region in this respect.
Comprising the ex-Soviet nations of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, the region is a literal Babylon with about 50 languages spoken across its territory by 28 ethnically distinct groups. This fact contrasts remarkably with the general unity of religion within the Caucasus, most of the population being Orthodox Christian, a minority being Roman Catholic. Muslims, mainly concentrated in the north, also comprise a minority.
Border wars have been a constant throughout history in the Caucasus. Imperial powers such as Greco-Macedonia, the Romans, Arabians, Mongolians, and Napoleonic France all failed to conquer and unite these territories. Not until the imposition of the cruel Communist might of the Soviet Union were they united and brought to a reasonable semblance of political stability.
A mild climate combined with arable soil attracted original settlement of this region anciently. But it is the significant strategic location that tempted the imperial powers of times past to invade in their many failed attempts at conquering the region. In more recent times, the strategic value of the Transcaucasus has dramatically risen due to its becoming a crucial transit point for the distribution of energy via pipeline and tanker from Russia to the European Union.
The collapse of the Soviet Union meant that the Caucasus became, once again, an attraction to competing powers as the world struggled toward a new post-Cold War order. It importance to the EU and the Far East—especially China—as customers for its oil and gas resources, and to a resurgent Russia and the Middle Eastern powers—especially Iran—as prime suppliers of those needs, should not be underestimated.
As China and Russia are on increasingly friendly terms, the endgame in this struggle for possession of its crucial resources and the exertion of political influence over the Transcaucasus will be played out most essentially between the European Union and Russia.
This is a tense and serious game of strategy. Vladimir Putin has signaled he intends to win. Last week, through his blitzkrieg reaction to Georgian aggression against South Ossetia, Putin threw down the gauntlet to the Western powers.
This was a shrewdly calculated move, brilliant in terms of its timing and its method of execution in respect of the reaction he sought from the West. Putin chose to react to Georgia when the media attention of the world and hence the international public was focused on China’s opening of the Olympic Games. He chose the moment of an American presidency at its weakest point—with U.S. military forces overstretched—and that of a British administration in veritable collapse. Not only that, the parliaments of the West were in recess and the leaders of the West in holiday mood. Add to this the end of summer, when Europe focuses on its energy needs for the onset of winter, and you have the scenario for Putin to unleash the perfect geopolitical storm on Europe.
In addition, Putin is aware that the next EU summit, at which Europe’s energy and security needs will be on the agenda, is only two months away. He is also very aware of the high profile that the 60th anniversary summit of nato members will attract next April. These important meetings will provide a forum for the establishment of the EU’s emerging foreign policy toward Russia.
For the purpose of this discussion, we discount the United Nations as being moribund, and the U.S. as being reduced to a bit player, each incapable of direction, their huffing and puffing reduced to mere sophistry in the whole Transcaucasus equation.
What is at issue here is the future of EU/Russia relations—most particularly, relations between Russia and Germany!
John Laughland, one of the keenest observers of EU/Russia relations, has observed (European Foundation Intelligence Digest, July 21, 2007):
Since 2006, Russia has argued that it is inconsistent for the West to push through independence for Kosovo while denying independence to Transnistria (officially part of Moldova) and to South Ossetia and Abkhazia (officially part of Georgia).
The Russian rejection of the proposal is also nourished by a conviction in some circles in the Kremlin that the West is trying to encircle Russia and, in particular, to drive it out of the Black Sea. The Kosovo issue is part of this plan, to the extent that independence for that province would put a permanent end to any Russian presence in the Balkans.
It is thus that these two most crucially strategic regions, the Balkans and the Caucasus, come together to apply pressure to the European Union and Russia to reach an amicable solution over their competing geopolitical interests. This is a vital key to our understanding, as originally predicted by Herbert W. Armstrong, that the conclusion of a type of the old Molotov-Ribbentrop pact which preceded World War ii is essential to these two powers before either can go much further in pursuing their independent imperial strategies.
Laughland further observed,
The Russians are therefore planning to react in kind if the Western states go ahead and recognize Kosovo anyway, which would represent a breach with the terms of the province’s current UN-approved status as a part of Serbia under UN administration. Moscow would be likely to recognize South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Transnistria in return. These territories might well then apply to join the Russian Federation. A Russian foothold in Abkhazia would strengthen, not weaken, Russia’s presence in the Black Sea, since the province is contiguous with Russia’s own border on the Black Sea. This in turn would make the nato accession of Georgia, to which Abkhazia currently belongs, extremely confrontational since Tbilisi [Georgia’s capital] would obviously then have a territorial dispute with Russia herself.
And react in kind they have.
As George Friedman of Stratfor stated recently, “In Kosovo the U.S. carried out military actions without UN approval unilaterally, imposed reality on Serbia, created an independent Kosovo in opposition to Russian desires and simply felt it had the right, along with the European powers, to redefine the situation in Serbia. The Russians are saying, if the U.S. and Europe have that power in Serbia, the Russians have the same power in Georgia” (National Public Radio, August 15).
Tit for tat!
You can’t fault the logic.
The geopolitical tensions between Russia and the EU in the tussle over just where the respective expansionism of each will stop has now been brought into sharp focus through Russia’s reaction to Georgian aggression in South Ossetia.
Who will step up to the plate to negotiate a compromise over Georgia and the greater geopolitical questions that Putin’s challenge to the West has raised? George Friedman hits the nail right on the head. “The French have taken the lead on the diplomatic front, but geography dictates that the German response is even more critical. In particular, we need to watch how Europe handles the situation, whether there is European unity in crafting a response to Russia, whether the European Union and nato follow similar courses, and what stresses emerge inside Europe and in the transatlantic relationship. Closer to Russia, Ukraine is the next area to watch” (Stratfor, August 15; emphasis mine).
What is now guaranteed is a spur to action within the EU on three fronts.
First, a negotiated settlement of the differences between Russia and the EU (Germany in particular) over Georgia will lead to ongoing negotiations on a pact between Russia and Germany. An emerging imperialist European Union may then feel sufficiently confident in its relations with a reviving imperialist Russia so as to turn its attention southward, away from its eastern border, to deal with the increasingly worrying thorn in its flesh: Islamic extremism’s northward push.
Second, Putin’s recent initiatives in the Transcaucasus will push Germany and Russia toward settling the territorial dividing line between these two expanding imperial powers. With the Islamic crescent pushing at both from the south, the EU and Russia must soon settle their differences over the Transcaucasus, Ukraine and Kosovo so as to not be distracted by these situations from their need to contend with the aggression of rising Islamic power.
Putin’s actions in Georgia will simply speed up discussions between Russia and Germany on just where their common border will be drawn. Ukraine is already choking up politically just contemplating what that outcome might be.
Third, the empowerment of Russia via the political persona of Vladimir Putin will accelerate the search within the EU to nominate—perhaps at the EU summit in October—influential personalities to appoint as EU president and EU foreign minister, the two most powerful positions created under the Lisbon Treaty. At present, the EU has no political counterpart to Vladimir Putin. The events of the past two weeks in Georgia will heighten the search for a personality with the power and personal strength of character to cobble together a semblance of unity among the 27 disparate member nations of the EU such that they can counter Russia.
There’s an existing cabal of influential personalities that all have a history of relating well with Vladimir Putin. They just happen to be of German nationality: ex-German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder; Germany’s current Vice Chancellor and Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier; and the senior bureaucrat charged with bringing order to the disorderly EU bureaucracy, the ex-prime minister of Bavaria, Edmund Stoiber. Germany’s current Chancellor Angela Merkel’s renowned frosty relationship with Putin places her outside of being influential in concluding any lasting deals with the Russian prime minister, or holding either of the two most influential posts being created within the EU.
Watch this cabal. Watch Vladimir Putin. Watch the Transcaucasus. Watch the Balkans. Watch Ukraine!
And as you watch, be mindful of the situation toward which all this is leading: the rise of a great northern power. It is prophesied in your Bible to soon react aggressively against the Islamic nations to its south and steamroll them with a whirlwind blitzkrieg (Daniel 11:40). It will then turn its wrath toward a group of weakened, morally bankrupt, economically and politically exhausted Western allies, placing them under siege, before swallowing their countries lock, stock and barrel into its globalist, imperial maw.
The hypocrisy of Anglo-American double-dealing in Kosovo and Georgia has thrown into question whether any former ally of the American and British nations can ever rely on their word again. Anglo-America’s reputation as a protector of the weak and helpless lies in shreds in the dust of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belgrade, Kosovo and South Ossetia. It will never recover from these grand disasters till a far, far better government is imposed on this world in the not-too-distant future (Isaiah 9:6-7).
Read our book Isaiah’s End-Time Vision for an understanding of that great and imminent future reality!