Dall’Estonia all’Azerbaigijan, le difficolta della stategia Usa dopo l’ errore della crisi in Ucraina ( da Stratfor, di George Friedman)

Pubblicato: 02/05/2014 in Uncategorized

From issue by george friedman

Whatever the origins of the events in Ukraine, the United States is now engaged in a confrontation with Russia. The Russians believe that the United States was the prime mover behind regime change in Ukraine. At the very least, the Russians intend to reverse events in Ukraine. At most, the Russians have reached the conclusion that the United States intends to undermine Russia’s power. They will resist. The United States has the option of declining confrontation, engaging in meaningless sanctions against individuals and allowing events to take their course. Alternatively, the United States can choose to engage and confront the Russians. 

A failure to engage at this point would cause countries around Russia’s periphery, from Estonia to Azerbaijan, to conclude that with the United States withdrawn and Europe fragmented, they must reach an accommodation with Russia. This will expand Russian power and open the door to Russian influence spreading on the European Peninsula itself. The United States has fought three wars (World War I, World War II and the Cold War) to prevent hegemonic domination of the region. Failure to engage would be a reversal of a century-old strategy


A direct military intervention by the United States in Ukraine is not possible. First, Ukraine is a large country, and the force required to protect it would outstrip U.S. capabilities. Second, supplying such a force would require a logistics system that does not exist and would take a long time to build. Finally, such an intervention would be inconceivable without a strong alliance system extending to the West and around the Black Sea. The United States can supply economic and political support, but Ukraine cannot counterbalance Russia and the United States cannot escalate to the point of using its own forces. Ukraine is a battleground on which Russian forces would have an advantage and a U.S. defeat would be possible. 

The countries that were at risk from 1945 to 1989 are not the same as those at risk today. Many of these countries were part of the Soviet Union then, and the rest were Soviet satellites. The old alliance system was not built for this confrontation. The Estonia-Azerbaijan line has as its primary interest retaining sovereignty in the face of Russian power. The rest of Europe is not in jeopardy, and these countries are not prepared to commit financial and military efforts to a problem they believe can be managed with little risk to them. Therefore, any American strategy must bypass NATO or at the very least create new structures to organize the region.

Azerbaijan serves a more strategic purpose. Most of the countries in the alliance are heavy importers of Russian energy; for instance, 91 percent of Poland’s energy imports and 86 percent of Hungary’s come from Russia. There is no short-term solution to this problem, but Russia needs the revenue from these exports as much as these countries need the energy. Developing European shale and importing U.S. energy is a long-term solution. A medium-term solution, depending on pipeline developments that Russia has tended to block in the past, is sending natural gas from Azerbaijan to Europe. Until now, this has been a commercial issue, but it has become a strategically critical issue. The Caspian region, of which Azerbaijan is the lynchpin, is the only major alternative to Russia for energy. Therefore, rapid expansion of pipelines to the heart of Europe is as essential as providing Azerbaijan with the military capability to defend itself (a capability it is prepared to pay for and, unlike other allied countries, does not need to be underwritten)

The key to the pipeline will be Turkey’s willingness to permit transit. I have not included Turkey as a member of this alliance. Its internal politics, complex relations and heavy energy dependence on Russia make such participation difficult.

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