Whether you like him or not, you can’t but admit that Vladimir Putin is a master tactician. When it comes to short and medium-term political coups none can match his success often achieved with minimum cost to himself.
Putin’s latest success is the so-called Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea, signed by all five littoral states last week, breaking a 22-year long log-jam. The convention could turn the world’s largest lake into an aero-naval military base for Russia and give Moscow the final word in exploiting and marketing the basin’s immense energy reserves.
Only 24 hours after the convention was signed, Moscow announced that work had started on a huge new base in Dagestan, one of Russia’s “federal” republics in the Caucasus. The new base will supplement older facilities that already exist in Astrakhan at the northern tip of the Caspian. Together, they will give Russia overwhelming military superiority for operations in Trans-Caucasia, the Middle East, Central Asia and the Black Sea rim.
The beauty of the operation is that the convention was launched and completed within what looks like a perfectly legal framework and with the consent of Russia’s neighbors in the CaspianAmir Taheri
The beauty of the operation is that the convention was launched and completed within what looks like a perfectly legal framework and with the consent of Russia’s neighbors in the Caspian.
Always looking for an extra something, Putin persuaded Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to let Russia have a share of their oil as a reward for “the taming of the Iranians.”
But that wasn’t all either. Putin persuaded the mullahs to hand Iran’s biggest energy contract so far to state-owned Russian firms. That is truly historic as it marks the end of over a century of Iranian refusal to let Russia, in its various epiphanies as Tsarist and/or Soviet Empire, a bite of the Iranian oil apple.
All done nice and legal, as is Putin’s method.