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Saturday, May 25, 2024

The US containment policy of Russia

Shane Quinn, a British geostrategist takes a look at the policies pursued by the Bush administration earlier this century. President Bush's strategy of shifting NATO to Russia's frontiers in 2004 caused increasing problems in the relationship with the Kremlin.

Former President George W. Bush wrote in his memoirs that following the 9/11 atrocities, he had formulated a strategy in which to safeguard the United States. His plan did not quite make a distinction between the terrorists and the countries where they resided. Under Bush, the Americans would fight the enemy abroad before they could strike, confronting a perceived threat before it materialized, i.e. preventive attacks.

This strategy, known as the Bush Doctrine, had actually originated before 9/11, not after. The Bush Doctrine was developed together with the “freedom agenda”, which Bush wanted to use to support “inexperienced democratic governments” in Ukraine, Georgia and Lebanon, to name but three; and to strengthen dissidents in Syria, Iran, North Korea and Venezuela.

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Understanding the matter better

Comprising part of the freedom agenda, were clear attempts at regime change with president Bush leading a team of neoconservative officials. They were focused largely on extending US hegemony. The Bush administration’s moves into Eurasia led to growing tensions with Russia, which has been returning as a major power over the past 2 decades under president Vladimir Putin.

With legitimate cause, in late February 2002 the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Igor Ivanov, warned that the Americans should understand Moscow’s concerns about the presence of US soldiers in Georgia, a nation that shares a 550-mile border with Russia. The Russian grievances regarding US and NATO enlargement were ignored. NATO expansion further enabled the war industry’s growth, bolstering profits through arms deals by selling weaponry to the many new countries which have joined NATO over the past generation.

Among the key tasks of NATO troops is “to guard pipelines that transport oil and gas that is directed to the West”, said NATO Secretary-General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, in June 2007, when he was addressing a meeting of NATO members. Washington believes that the transportation of oil and gas through Russian territory makes Western markets vulnerable.

The Americans made efforts to ensure that the pipelines avoided Russian land, or that of Russia’s allies. For Washington a crucial goal to the present is to control the countries of the former Soviet Union. They went about this not only with military persuasion, but through the assistance of organizations like the CIA, the NED (National Endowment for Democracy), Freedom House, USAID and the Open Society Institute; the latter was created by Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros, and in 2011 his Open Society Institute was renamed Open Society Foundations.

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Soros is an adversary of leaders like Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping

Bush’s government dispatched 200 military advisers to Georgia. This small Caucasus country is recognized to be of vital strategic importance, partly because of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, supported by the West. The infrastructure, at 1,099 miles long, is the second-largest oil pipeline present in the former Soviet Union. It transports crude oil from the Caspian Sea through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, bypassing Russia and Iran.

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline was operated through a consortium led by British Petroleum (BP) and Chevron. The Pentagon started drafting policies to use Georgia in a containment policy of Russia, with the intention of preventing the Kremlin from reasserting its influence over the Caucasus.

A few weeks after 9/11, Georgia’s president Eduard Shevardnadze visited the American capital, where he pledged his backing in the war on terror. Shevardnadze asked for economic and military aid from the Americans, and he signed a strategic partnership with NATO. He also authorized the construction of the previously mentioned pipeline, which would be commissioned in 2006.

Yet the Georgian president’s position had become precarious

He was politically weak and isolated; Georgia’s foreign debt had rocketed to $1.75 billion and Shevardnadze had no way of paying it off. This instability in Georgia was viewed with concern in Bush’s White House, which feared that the country could return to Russia’s orbit of control.

The Rose Revolution in Georgia of November 2003 was planned and initiated from Washington, in coordination with the US Ambassador to Georgia, Richard Miles, according to Moniz Bandeira, a Brazilian political scientist. Bandeira continued, “The ambassador Richard Miles had played an important role in the toppling of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, when he headed the diplomatic mission of the United States in Belgrade, between 1996 and 1999”.

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The Rose Revolution was granted significant funding from Soros’ Open Society Institute, totaling over $42 million in the 3 months before the protests had commenced. US-friendly politician Mikheil Saakashvili, who received some of his education in America, took over the Georgian presidency in January 2004. Saakashvili’s rise to power was partly made possible by the assistance of Western NGOs, and pro-Saakashvili activists in Georgia linked to the Open Society Institute of Soros.

Saakashvili promptly went about reducing the Russian military presence in Georgia

The US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, signed a $15 million contract with the American firm, the Cubic Corporation, in order to provide defense equipment and training to Georgia’s military.

The Bush administration was sending to Georgia US Special Operation Forces (Green Berets) and the US Marine Corps, among others, to train the Georgian military personnel; these contingents participated in the US offensives in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. The Americans had launched the Georgia Train and Equip Program (GTEP) in 2002 and, in 2005, the Georgia Security and Stability Operations Program (GSSOP), initiatives formed to align the Georgian forces to US military goals. With tensions rising in the separatist Caucasus regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, both of which want to join Russia, president Saakashvili requested that Georgia be allowed to join NATO.

The following year, starting in November 2004, a second color revolution began this time in Ukraine, another important country which has an 830 mile border with Russia. The protests occurred principally in the capital Kyiv, not nationwide, and it had been dubbed by the Western media as the “Orange Revolution”. The target was the Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, who had assumed power in Kyiv 10 years before in July 1994.

Kuchma could not be called an ardent pro-Russian but, overall, relations with Russia had improved during his decade in office. Kuchma described Russian as “an official language” in Ukraine and, during late May 1997, he signed a Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Partnership with Russia.

As regarding Georgia, the anti-government actions in Ukraine were encouraged by organizations like the NED, USAID, Freedom House, along with activists on the payroll of Soros. He was supporting the campaign of Viktor Yushchenko, a pro-Western figure. Yushchenko has been an advocate of Ukraine joining NATO and the EU, while he was opposed to Russian being the second state language in the country.

English correspondent Jonathan Steele wrote of the Orange Revolution in the Guardian newspaper, “Intervening in foreign elections, under the guise of an impartial interest in helping civil society, has become the run-up to the postmodern coup d’etat. The CIA-sponsored third world uprising of cold war days adapted to post-Soviet conditions”.

In the decade or so following the Soviet Union’s 1991 collapse, Washington poured $350 million into eastern Europe and the ex-Soviet republics. The Pentagon had a vested interest in the color revolutions, with the support of the US State Department and US Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (USACAPOC). Washington had clearly not abandoned its Cold War practice of containing Russia.

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With crucial Western support, Yushchenko took power in Kyiv in January 2005

Bush hoped that Yushchenko would shift Ukraine towards Western integration while adopting a free-market economy. The first major project that Yushchenko announced, in the summer of 2005, was the construction of a pipeline originating from the Caspian Sea via Ukraine to Poland. This would reduce Kyiv’s dependence on Moscow for raw materials.

Yushchenko’s prime minister was Yulia Tymoshenko, known in Ukraine as the “gas princess”, because of the fortune she had gained through deals relating to natural gas. Tymoshenko has publicly supported Ukrainian accession to NATO and the EU.

President Bush and colleagues had no desire for instability in Azerbaijan, another former Soviet republic. Azerbaijan, which rests on the Caspian Sea, serves as a critical pipeline corridor between the Caucasus and Central Asia; as Zbigniew Brzezinski started to realize about Azerbaijan, when he was the National Security Adviser under president Jimmy Carter.

To protect the oil/gas fields and pipelines, the Pentagon dispatched to the Caspian region personnel from American Private Military Companies (PMCs) like Blackwater. The Caspian region had historically been dominated by Russia and Iran. Bush, like his predecessor Bill Clinton, was ramping up the pressure on Russia by sanctioning further NATO expansion and launching wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Less than a year after becoming president in January 2001, Bush withdrew America from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM), which had been signed in 1972 with the USSR in order to implement the anti-missile defense system. He also refused to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (1996), along with modifications to the SALT 2 agreement on the reduction of strategic armaments.

President Bush moved to establish missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic, two central European states which had joined NATO in 1999. He advanced NATO to Russia’s borders, with the accession in 2004 to NATO of the Baltic states Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, along with that same year Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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In early 2007, an increasingly frustrated Putin rebuked NATO’s march to Russia’s frontiers when he said “the United States has overstepped its borders in every way”, a policy which he described as “very dangerous”.

Undeterred, the Bush administration made steps to incorporate Ukraine and Georgia into the Western military sphere. In early April 2008 it was outlined at a NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania, “NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO. Both nations have made valuable contributions to Alliance operations”. NATO’s stated ambitions did not go unnoticed in the Kremlin.



Shane Quinn has contributed on a regular basis to Global Research for almost two years and has had articles published with American news outlets People’s World and MintPress News, Morning Star in Britain, and Venezuela’s Orinoco Tribune. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.