When you look at US military bases in Afghanistan and place them on top of proposed pipeline routes from Turkmenstan to Pakistan, one sees that the bases trace out the pipelines. Back in 2001, the hope was that the USA would take charge in Central Asia and, by association, the petrochemicals beneath the soil and sands of that region. The neocons spoke highly of the dictators of geologically-blessed regions until news of their boiling opponents alive came to light or, worse, said dictators chose to orbit either Russia or China and not to play ball with the USA, which never really got Afghanistan calmed down enough to get that pipeline project underway.
Now that the Central Asian dictatorships are no longer interested in American ventures, we no longer need to keep troops there to guard a pipeline route that will never exist.
Interestingly enough, Chevron, a company that had great interest in the Afghan pipeline, is also quite interested in exploring hydrocarbons beneath Ukraine. If they weren’t behind the recent riots that unseated Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, I’d be surprised. Oil companies have been behind assassinations, bombings, massacres, coup d’etats, wars, and other assorted acts of mayhem since the start of the 20th Century, when it became clear how much money and power was connected to black gold. Fun fact: Condoleeza Rice, a huge proponent of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, is a former Chevron employee. How about that?
So, we’re at Chevron being interested in Ukraine and probably getting the CIA to topple a tinpot elected official. Like it or not, Ukraine’s pro-Russian president was elected after a runoff election between him and his opposition that received the most votes. His election was as fair and valid as the USA’s own 2000 election, if one wishes to cast aspersions upon it. The guy was elected, and he certainly leaned towards Russia. Chevron got him out of the way and…
… obviously, Chevron totally forgot that the USA isn’t the only nation with an interest in putting its soldiers along pipeline routes. Russia today is not the disorganized post-Communist mess that it was in 1991. It has its act together, and is not afraid to project its power. If one looks at the major natural gas pipelines that cross Ukraine, one notices a line that goes strictly through predominantly Russian-speaking areas in the east and south. If Russia pushes into those areas to defend Russian-speaking people, it will also be securing a major pipeline route to Europe. Another pipeline to bypass Ukraine completely should be finished by 2017. All the same, Russia would prefer all of Ukraine to be friendly to its interests, but Russia does not like take a risk without hedging its bets.
At the very least, Russia will occupy eastern and southern Ukraine. The pipeline dictates that. Will Russia stop there? Maybe not: the other pipelines dictate that. But will Russia go beyond the borders of Ukraine? I don’t think so. It has customers on the other side of Ukraine’s borders. Ukraine couldn’t pay for Russia’s gas with money, so it has to pay for it by other means. Germany and the rest of Europe have cash and can pay for that gas, so there’s no need for Russia to move further west unless that money runs out.