Rostislav Ishchenko: Washington’s Anti-Russian Cordon Sanitaire Became an Anti-American One

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


Moscow and Ankara confirmed that both lines of “Turkish Stream”, with a total power of up to 33 billion cubic meters of gas per year, will start to work in 2019. The timeframe of launching “Nord Stream-2” is also not in doubt – the same 2019. It means that if within the next year nothing extraordinary happens, Russia and its allies will finally win in the global standoff with the US, irrespective of how gangs of pro-American terrorists will continue to run across Syria and Ukraine.

It is the 15th year (if to count from the first “color” revolution in the post-Soviet space — in 2004 in Georgia) that Russia has been engaged in a persistent fight against the United States. During this time even the term “hybrid war” was born: it is when seemingly peaceful relations between States weren’t severed, troops weren’t deployed from the barracks, but in practice the war of extermination is waged non-militarily, and no less effective than if it were with military means.

No war begins just like that. Moreover, it is the reasons for such a long and principal collision that are important. After all, the US didn’t just try to nullify Russia as a factor in global politics. By contriving this game, even from a good position, they also risked their own nullification. Now the US is much closer to a definitive defeat than to a victory. Nevertheless, Washington refuses any compromises and persistently tries to fight to the end.

In recent years many people often wrote about the reasons for such a principled approach. If to formulate it shortly, America was afraid not so much of the military-political revival of Russia (the US was sure that their absolute military superiority will remain until 2050 at least) as it was of the creation of the united trade and economic space of Big Eurasia. China, Russia, the European Union, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East is 3/4 of the population of the planet, huge markets, high technologies, and unlimited stocks of natural minerals.

The emergence of an all Eurasian trade-economic union would instantly marginalise the US. The most important thing is that American companies, budgets, and consumers would lose income in the hundreds of billions dollars per year. The system can’t exist without them. As a result, the US would collapse without external efforts, simply due to internal destabilisation.

The United States fought longly and persistently against the idea of a united Eurasia and attempts to embody it. But these ideas were so obvious and promising that they surfaced again and again. They were stated by de Gaulle, Putin, Xi Jinping, and many others too.

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Finally, Washington came to a simple decision that was lying on the surface since the middle of the 1970’s. In order to not allow a trade-economic association of Eurasian countries, there is a need to block the trade routes connecting them.

Washington perfectly understood that it is energy carriers that play the main role in the modern economy. Also they try to control the biggest part of their global extraction, and also the delivery routes. From the 1970’s there was only one route of delivery of energy carriers to Europe not controlled by them — the Soviet system of major pipelines.

At the time, the US tried to block the Soviet-European “gas-for-pipe” deal no less actively and persistently than they fought against the Russian sea gas pipeline projects delivering gas directly to the West European consumer without Eastern European transit. Already back then they realised what the entrance in the European market of cheap (in comparison with Middle Eastern) Soviet and then Russian gas threatens them with. But neither Atlantic solidarity nor even the fight between two systems that continued up to the middle of the 1980’s helped them. The offer was too tempting, and since then the share of Russian gas in the European market is only increasing.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the stability of the European economy has long depended on deliveries from Russian energy carriers. It is precisely for this reason that the EU, agreeing on any sanctions mechanism and playing along a bit with the Americans in the Libyan, Syrian, and Ukrainian crises, flatly refused to revise the construction plans of sea gas pipelines. Neither a pro-American lobby in the European Commission nor Eastern European members of the EU inclined to giving in to American pressure could break these projects. The Russian gas is necessary for Germany, and Berlin was ready to provide at any cost its receipt in the European Union in the necessary quantity.

Understanding that to obtain from European politicians (dependent on the US, but also on European business too) a refusal of Russian gas in favor of more expensive energy carriers from a zone of the Persian Gulf controlled at the time by Washington and its allies is almost impossible, the US tried to create allegedly objective barriers to Russian-European cooperation.

A lot was written about this – in particular, the Polish “Międzymorze” project, which was fairly called the new edition of the cordon sanitaire that was designed to separate Russia from Europe already not ideologically, but economically. The idea that was being realised by Washington was simple and effective. It is necessary to create a belt of hostile countries between Russia and Europe, to close all existing routes of deliveries, to launch economic wars, which will break the rhythm of deliveries and will force Europe to look for a more reliable supplier of energy.

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Ukraine was an important link in the project, through which up to about 80% of all Russian gas was delivered to the EU in the early 90’s. Poland had to block the construction of alternative overland branches of gas pipelines, which it coped well with to its own disadvantage, having refused to lay through its territory the “Yamal-Europe-2” gas pipeline. Turkey was supposed to supply Europe with Central Asian gas as an alternative to Russian gas. Syria, as is known, started being exterminated in order to lay a pipeline for Qatar gas through its territory. After Syria, it was planned to finish off Iran in order to guarantee for the US control over sufficient reserves of gas and routes of its delivery.

If to imagine a political map of the world, it is easy to understand that a cordon sanitaire up to Syria and Iran, with a multitude of guarantees, would cut both Russia and China off from Europe. Russia would lose the European gas market, its budget would drop, and Moscow would be excluded from the big game of politics because of a banal shortage of a resource. China wouldn’t receive for its goods an alternative to the American market in the form of the European consumer, and would become completely dependant on the US. The question of preserving and prolonging American hegemony, thus, would be safely solved.

That’s why for the US by and large it was all the same whether stable pro-American regime will be formed in Syria and Ukraine or the gangs of Banderists and ISIS militants will continue to ransack. The second option solves the problem of blocked trade routes no less reliably, but with smaller expenses. It won’t enter anyone’s mind to lay trade routes through Somalia, and there is no need to pay for the maintenance of the local regime – it exists through forage.

But for Russia it was necessary not simply to obtain a military victory in Syria (in order to get rid of both the eventual threats posed by the construction of the Qatar gas pipeline and a potential attack on Iran), but also to achieve the creation of sea gas pipelines of sufficient power so that the biggest part of gas deliveries to the EU don’t depend on Eastern European transit.

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As soon as both branches of “Turkish Stream” and the second line of “Nord Stream” start to work in 2019, this task can be considered solved.

As a result of the Syrian campaign, and also patient diplomatic work with Turks and Germans, Russia left to Americans only a tatter from their cordon sanitaire. Tens of billions of dollars were invested in the creation and maintenance of Russophobic regimes in vain. Now Russia and its allies control not only all overland, but also a considerable part of maritime trade routes between Europe and Asia. Europeans, and then the Americans who succeeded them, haven’t allowed a loss of control over these routes since the end of the 15th century.

Here we have one more pleasant bonus. The main achievement consists in the gas pipelines themselves. The fact is that if “Nord Stream” comes directly to the German coast, “Turkish Stream” must connect to a gas hub in Austria by a gas pipeline laid across EU territory: through Greece and Italy or along the route Bulgaria-Serbia-Hungary.

Anyway, it will be the European Union that will be held responsible for transit along this gas pipeline. But the destiny of the pipe itself will completely depend on Russia, because, as the Ukrainian experience showed everyone, an empty pipe without gas is already not wealth but a burden. I.e., all European countries receiving Russian gas, all European companies that are included in the system of delivery and earned money from it, all States whose territory the strictly EU gas pipeline will pass through, and all countries where European gas hubs are created orientated towards distributing Russian gas transform into partners of Russia.

It’s nothing personal – just business. Too much money was invested in projects, and they must bring profits to European business. If the US could offer joint projects that are no less tempting, then they would be able to compete. But they have no such opportunity, because they have no access to cheap gas. They are swiftly losing their position even in the Gulf zone. And Europe (at least its Western part) doesn’t want to drag the US’ chestnuts from the fire just for a “thank you”.

Washington didn’t consider that in politics, like in physics, every action has a reaction. By trying to build an anti-Russian cordon sanitaire in Eastern Europe and in the Middle East, the Americans as a result lost the Middle East, and a cordon sanitaire against them is already being built in the Western and the Central Europe. Moreover, it is being done on the strongest basis — financial and economic interests.

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