RUSSIA is recalling its ambassador to Tbilisi after Wednesday’s provocative arrests of four Russian officers on spying charges, and is beginning a partial evacuation of its personnel from Georgia.
Relations between Moscow and Tbilisi have worsened in recent weeks, since Georgia and the Western imperialist alliance Nato agreed to hold talks on closer relations.
The arrests coincided with the first official visit by President Saakashvili to a disputed area on the border between Georgia and pro-Russian Abkhazia which has seceded from Georgia, along with South Ossetia.
Relations between Russia and Georgia have become increasingly tense since Saakashvili came to power in 2004 and President Bush spoke in the main square of the capital Tbilisi, narrowly avoiding assassination when a hand grenade was thrown from the crowd at him but failed to explode.
Saakashvili pledged to Bush that he would take the Caucasus nation out of Russia’s orbit and join Nato and the European Union.
The United States has called for Russian troops to leave South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The US presence in the Caucasus is connected to its desire to grab the oil and gas resources of the Caspian Sea region.
US and British oil companies are already established in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, and an oil pipeline has been constructed to carry the oil to Mediterranian ports.
The President of Kazakhstan was yesterday in Washington having talks with Bush. The Kazak President has signed a treaty with Azerbaijan at Bush’s behest that sanctions the transport of oil from Kazakhstan via the Baku, Tbilisi (in Georgia), Ceyhan pipeline to the Turkish Mediterranean coast.
The US wants not only to bring Georgia into NATO, but to detach the southern Caucasus from Russia as well.
The US is behind the arrests of the Russian officers, and is seeking to weaken Russia, which is now much richer after the vast increases in oil prices.
America is seeking to push Russia away from the Caspian Sea, while Russia’s interests require the defence of the Caucasus against US imperialism.
This is not the only front in the oil and gas war that is developing.
Following the jailing of the boss of Yukos and the setting up of Gazprom and Rosneft as giant state controlled oil and gas companies, Russia is seeking to re-negotiate many of the deals made by companies like Shell when they were able to buy vast concessions in Siberia for a relative pittance.
Some Russian officials are saying that the Yeltsin government was virtually a puppet regime for the West and gave away Russia’s resources.
Putin has sought to expropriate the pro-US section of the new bourgeoisie that the Stalinist bureaucracy spawned under Yeltsin, and has allied himself to an allegedly ‘patriotic wing’ of the new bourgeoisie.
Now the pressure is being put on Shell and other major oil companies. Shell has a huge concession in Sakhalin where it is building a giant $20 billion complex.
Russia’s head of the ministry of natural resources has announced that he will cancel an environmental permit for the Sakhalin project, and this has halted all production.
Meanwhile, the Russian state-owned company Gazprom has announced that it wants a 25 per cent share in the $20 billion project.
The western capitalists are now screaming at this attempted ‘shakedown’ fearing that it could develop into ‘theft’ that is, expropriation.
This is why the war drums are now beating along the border between Georgia and Russia.
In the event of armed conflict we must give our 100 per cent support to Russia against the imperialist powers.
We also call on the Russian working class and the whole Soviet working class to struggle to drive the imperialists out of the Caucasus and also to step up their struggle for the restoration of the USSR through a political revolution to overthrow the Stalinist bureaucracy and the new bourgeoisie, patriotic or not, and restore Soviet power and rule through workers and peasants soviets.