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Researched and Written by Inayet Hadi. All Rights Reserved. Please email me at when quoting this article.

Black Gold and Red Blood: The Russian War for Oil in Chechnya Robert Ebel, the Director of Energy and National Security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the editor of Energy and Conflict in Central Asia and the Caucasus agrees that, Energy accounts for half of Russias export earnings, a third of federal budget revenues, and a quarter of the overall Russian GDP (164). Russias economy is heavily dependent on oil, most of which comes from the Caspian Sea region. Before the breakup of the Soviet Union, Chechnya had the only functioning oil pipelines running through its territory. The Friendship oil pipeline starts from Baku, Azerbaijan, runs through Chechnya, and ends at Novorossiysk, Black Sea. The Friendship oil pipeline can transport 1.2 million bbl/d (barrels per day) of oil to southern Russia and to the Black Sea. The oil is then exported to world markets (i.e. Southern Russia, Eastern European countries, and Black Sea). Dale R. Herspring, a professor of political science at Kansas State University and a member of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations writes in Putins Russia that in late November 1990, before the break up of the Soviet Union in December 1991, a National Chechen Conference convened in Grozny to declare the independence and sovereignty of Chechnya from the Soviet Union (184). After declaring their independence from the Soviet Union, the Chechens [] elected General Dudaev as president by an overwhelming majority (Herspring 184). Vanora Bennett, a foreign correspondent based in Moscow, points out in Crying Wolf: The Return of War to Chechnya, that on 19 August 1991 a coup was staged by a [military] junta of Soviets hard-liners to try to stop the collapse of the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) (208). Immediately, the Chechen elected leadership sided with Boris Yelstin, a prominent political figure in Russia who was opposed to the coup. Yelstins motto during the coup was, take as much sovereignty as you could swallow. This was done to gain support of the people within in the Russian Federation into backing him. At that same time, many autonomous regions within the Russian Federation wanted to secede from Russia. In 1992, Yelstin became the

president of the Russian Federation. Up until 1994, Chechnya had maintained de facto independence from the Russia Federation until Yelstin had consolidated his political power after the coup. While confident on the domestic front, Yelstins Defense Minister Pavel Grachev sent troops to control Chechnyas natural resources and securing the transportation links on 27 November 1994, under the guise of restoring constitutional order. John Russell, the head of the department of Modern Language at University of Bradford, has written extensively about post-soviet Russia. Russell writes in Mujahedeen, Mafia, Madmen: Russian Perceptions of Chechens During the Wars in Chechnya, 199496 and 1999-2001 that Dudaevs [President of Chechnya] soldiers quickly routed the Russians and sent them home over the weekend. This catastrophe immediately triggered the first post-soviet war in Chechnya (80). Russia started both wars with Chechnya, first, the 1994-96 war and the present war that began in 1999, was to control the natural resources of the strategic geopolitical area within in the Caucasus region, and not to suppress terrorism. Ample evidence exists that top Russian political leaders were influenced to invade Chechyna again in 1999 to regain the control over the flow of oil from the oil-rich Caspian Sea to world markets (Bennett 440). By occupying Chechnya, Russia has a monopoly over the transportation links that already exist in Chechnya. Near the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, fifteen Soviet Republics declared their republics independent nation-states from the Soviet Union. Likewise, Chechnya declared their independence from the Soviet Union. However, Russia, the leading republic within the USSR, did not officially recognize Chechnyas independence. Consequently, Chechnya maintained a de facto independence from Moscow until 1994 when Russian soldiers were sent in to wage a two-year bloody war to keep Chechnya from gaining independence. It is estimated that ten percent of the Chechen population was murdered during the 1994-96 Russian invasion. The Russians withdrew from Chechnya with the signing of the Khasavyurt Accord on 31 August 1996 (Herspring 189). The first Russian post-soviet war with Chechnya was unpopular with the Russian public. At this time, President Boris Yelstin was running for re-elections again in 1996. The accord was used by Boris Yelstin to gain Russian public

support in the presidential elections of 1996. President Yelstin was elected to second term in office because he promised to end the war in Chechnya. With the signing of the Khasavyurt Accord the first post-soviet war with Chechnya was over The accord would allow the Chechens to decide in 2001 in a referendum to either secede or remain part of the Russian Federation. The referendum never took place. Near the Russian Presidential election in 1999, several apartment buildings in Moscow were bombed, maiming three hundred people. Immediately after the bombing, President Boris Yelstin blamed the bombings on the Chechen leadership, without providing any proof for their involvement. At the same time, the Chechen leadership completely denied and condemned the heinous acts against innocent people. According to Russell, the terror bombing campaign, the subsequent attributing of blame to Islamic militants from the Caucasus (and thus the Chechens), followed by the invasion of Chechnya early in October 1999, [] created for Putin the platform from which to launch his successful presidential campaign (81). Shortly after the 1999 bombing of apartment buildings in Moscow, the Russian media began to air material that showed Chechens in a negative light. A week prior to the second post-soviet Russian invasion, the Russian channel 2 showed a stereotypical bearded Chechen fighter cutting the throat of a young Russian soldier (Russell 82). The Television images evoked in the Russian mind that all Chechens would act in such a barbaric way. This was done to desensitize the public to the mass killings that were about to be perpetrated by the Russian army in Chechnya. President Boris Yelstins favorite successor to the presidency was the newly appointed Prime Minster Vladimir Putin. Prime Minister Putin ordered over one hundred thousand Russian troops to Chechnya to eradicate the bandits in Chechnya. Prime Minister Putins tough stance against the Chechens went well with the Russian public after the Russian political authorities blamed the bombing on the Chechens. Prime Minister Putins tough policy against the Chechens allowed the Prime Minister Putin to win the presidential campaign by a landslide victory. Again, Russell writes that, a year later after the bombing in Moscow in the Pushkin Square subway in August 2000 Putin declined to pin the blame on the Chechens for what turned out to be a turf war between Moscow criminal gangs (82).

Once Putin got elected to the president office, he did not blame the Chechens for the second bombing in Moscow in August 2000. The first Moscow bombing in 1999 was used by the Russian political leaders to get the backing of the Russian public for the second post-soviet invasion of Chechnya. The bombing of Moscow apartment buildings in 1999 by Russian criminals was a strategic tool used by the Russian political authorities to re-occupy Chechnya. The bombing of 1999 did two things for Putin. First, it allowed him to win the elections to the presidency. Second, it gave him the control over the transportation links from the Caspian Sea to world markets, and not to suppress terrorism. Russias official reasons for invading Chechnya are, to fight against international terrorism, and to keep Russias territorial integrity secure from terrorism. Labeling the entire Chechen people as terrorists and bandits does not help promote the fight against international terrorism. In fact, the threat is increased when people are systematically tortured and murdered. As a natural instinct, people will protect themselves from being wiped out. Furthermore, how can sending in over one hundred thousand troops and weapons into other peoples land help to defend yourself? This false sense of security was broken by the recent Moscow hostage situation. The Chechens demanded that Russia political leaders withdraw all one hundred thousand troops from Chechnya. The operation to liberate the Russian hostages from the Chechens was handled very poorly by the Russian authorities. In the process of liberating the hostages, the Russians themselves killed over eighty other Russians in addition to fifty Chechens as a result of using a narcotic gas. This operation shed light on how the Russians acted in Chechnya; the indiscriminate killing of innocent people. Russia invaded Chechnya once again in 1999 in order to secure valuable contracts to transport oil from the Caspian Sea to world markets. Vincent J. Goulding Jr., a Marine Corps Representative at the US Army War College and the author of online article, Back to the Future With Asymmetric Warfare. (Use of Particular Strategy Used by Ancient Germanic Tribe and Chechen Rebels in Russia). Goulding endorses that for Russia, oil was the primary reason for invading Chechnya. According to Goulding, there was also the issue of oil reserves in the area and the physical security of an

economically significant natural gas pipeline. From Moscow's perspective, it is easy to argue that vital national interests were at stake. The Russians began to lose valuable exploration and transportation contracts to western consortiums because Chechnya was no longer under Russias direct control. In the meantime, western consortiums became more interested in developing the energy sector in the Caucasian region. The only functioning oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea capable of transporting oil to the world markets passed through Chechnya. Bennett states that Azerbaijan, a newly independent state in the Caucasus region, finally signed a multi-billion-dollar contract with a Western consortium to drill crude off its Caspian Sea shore (322). The only way for Russia then to control Caspian oil would be to get the contract for transporting it back through [the Friendship pipeline] (Bennett 322). Russia could not guarantee the safety of the oil being transported through the Friendship pipeline in Chechnya because of the 1996 truce signed by Chechnya and Russia. The truce gave Chechnya freedom from Russian rule. The action by the western consortiums to build a pipeline bypassing Russia was to ensure the safety of oil reaching its destination. In order to guarantee the safety of oil, the western consortiums decided to build a pipeline that would run through Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and through Turkey, effectively bypassing Russia. The loss of potential revenue from not being able to transport oil through the Friendship pipeline prompted Russia in October 1999 to invade Chechnya under the pretext of fighting international terrorism and securing Russias territorial integrity against terrorists. This was accomplished by placing over one hundred thousand soldiers in Chechnya. Chechnya is the size of Ireland. Russia has ensured that the Friendship pipeline brings oil from the Caspian Sea to the world markets. Chechnya has considerable amount of proven oil reserve in the capitol, Grozny. The United States Energy Information Administration confirms Grozny has the capacity of refining oil at 390,000 bbl/d. Anup Shah, associated with the Global Issues website, features in-depth reporting on many relevant issues that effect the human species on this planet. Shah reports, Grozny has a major oil refinery along this pipeline. For Russia it is important that the oil pipelines and routes they take to be sold to the western markets. Chechnya was considered as the hub of oil industry during the Soviet

days. After the breakup of the USSR, the lead nation Russia kept Chechnya as part of its Russian Federation. The significance of holding onto Chechnya was the oil reserves and the transportation links that exist in Chechnya. By taking control of the oil fields and the transportation links in Chechnya, Russia ensured a monopoly over the oil reserves in the Caspian region. Ron Holland reports on the Middle East and on financial matters. Holland is also the Editor of Dixie Daily News and Holland was asked in an electronic-mail interview why Russia was occupying Chechnya? He responded with, They are occupying Chechnya for oil and because they have the power to do so. Just the same reason we will occupy Iraq. Both reasons discussed earlier are all plausible as to why the Russians have re-invaded and occupied Chechnya. The facts outlined above should leave no doubt as to what the real reason is for Russian occupation in Chechnya. The first reason is to control the flow of oil from the Caspian Sea to world markets. The second reason, as mentioned earlier, were the oil refineries in Chechnya, to be exploited by the Russians. The above information has shed some light as to what might be the motivating factors for the Russian foreign policy in favor of occupying Chechnya and it is certainly not to suppress terrorism. The strategic value of Chechnya lies in the geography, located in the center of the Caucasian Region. Countries in the Caucasus Region such as North Ossetia, and Kabardino-Balkaria would like to be independent nation-state from the Russian Federation. The Russians saw Chechnya as the doorway to the Caucasian Region. Matthew Evangelista, a professor of government at Cornell University and the author of The Chechen Wars Will Russia Go the Way of the Soviet Union?, notes that Chechnya stands astride key transportation junctions, including the Rostov-Baku highway and Rostov-Baku railroad, the only links between northern Russia and Transcaucasia and the countries of eastern and southern Europe, it has also been an important center for oil refining and transit (3). If Chechnya can be controlled, then it is easy to control the flow of commerce and oil in the Caucasus Region, at the same time preventing other autonomous regions within the Russian Federation from gaining their

independence. After the collapse of the USSR, Islam began to be embraced by the local people once again in the open, as Islam was suppressed under the Soviet regime. The revival of Islam in the Caucasus Region had Moscow worried that there could be a successful Islamic state in the Caucasus region. If an Islamic state had naturally formed in Caucasus Region, and would have been successful, then Russia would have lost its influence in the Caucasus region completely, which would have meant great revenue lost from not being able to control the transportation of oil. Other pseudo-autonomous regions within the Russian Federation would love to break away from the corrupt, inept rule of the Russians. Herspring writes, Yelstin viewed Chechen independence as a threat to Russias territorial integrity and sovereignty and a magnet for other disgruntled Caucasian peoples chafing under Russian rule (184). If Chechnya had been successful at maintaining their independence, then other autonomous regions within the Russian Federation would have followed Chechnya footsteps and declared their independence. Russia, did not accept the separation of Chechnya from the USSR and Russia made Chechnya part of its Federation as was before the soviet system. Russia feared if Chechnya broke away from Russian Federation, then its influence would have been diminished in the Caucasus Region and over the newly independent states in the Caucasus Region, such as Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia. Karen Talbot, a member of the International Center for Peace and Justice and the author of online article, Chechnya: More Blood for Oil reveals the real problem with the Russian Federation. Talbot writes, On August 27, there was a major confrontation by separatists demanding that Karachay-Cherkess secede from Russia. Maintaining over one hundred thousand Russian soldiers in Chechnya will deter other regions from seceding from the Russia Federation. By preventing Chechnyas independence with force, Russia will maintain the strong influence over the newly independent states in the Caucasus region. The Caspian Sea in the Caucasus Region has been dubbed as the next Kuwait. Certainly Russia would not want to miss the opportunity of reaping the profits made from exploring and transporting oil from the Caspian Sea to world markets. Russia motives were and are to prevent other pseudo autonomous regions from declaring their

independence from the Russian Federation, and to keep its influence over the Caucasian Region. The benefit of having influence over the Caucasian region is to control the transportation and exploration of oil in the Caspian Sea region. The above evidence provides an alternative viewpoint as to why the Russians have not allowed Chechnya to separate as an independent nation-state from the Russian Federation. Russias actions in Chechnya cannot be justified as fighting terrorism. All the evidence points to Russia wanting to control the flow of oil from the Caspian Sea to world markets. Russian military action in Chechnya is totally opposite to the rhetoric from the Kremlin, which is we are in Chechnya to suppress terrorism. Then what is terrorism? It is the inflicting of deliberate physical or psychological damage against a people. Human Rights Watch is an organization that investigates human rights violation in over seventy countries, singled out Russia for human rights violation in a report titled, Welcome to Hell: Arbitrary Detention, Torture, and Extortion in Chechnya. The methodology used by the Russians in dealing with detained villagers is not only wrong but also extremely inhumane. Human Rights Watch points to the treatment received by the Chechen population in Russian detention centers. Human Rights Watch reports that, Russian guards would force them to run a gauntlet of guards who would beat them mercilessly, through their stay in cramped and sordid conditions (26). By treating the people of Chechnya in such derogatory and systematic ways, the Russians have allowed the soldiers to run amuck to terrorize the Chechen people into submission to Russian rule. All of this evidence points to controlling the flow of oil from the Caspian Sea rather than suppressing terrorism. On the contrary, it is the Russians who are causing terrorism on the Chechen people. The homes of Chechens in cities and villages have been destroyed by massive Russian artillery bombardment, which has destroyed the entire capitol of Chechnya. Herspring points out, [t]he assault on Grozny effectively leveled the city, leaving its population without basic services (192). The Russians bombed and leveled the biggest city in Chechnya, its capitol Grozny. The bombing of Grozny and villages has left the people of Chechnya with no proper protection from the severe freezing

winters, no sewage systems, no running water, no functioning electricity grid, etc The people of Chechnya are left to be diseased and killed off. All of this is terrorism perpetrated by a state that is superior to their enemy. According to Human Rights Watch, Russia is committing mass murder and other crimes against humanity in Chechnya. There have been many accounts of Russian brutality and inhumane treatment of Chechens. These crimes do not support the official line of the Kremlin regime that says we are in Chechnya to bring order and stability and to suppress terrorism. On the contrary, the Russians are guilty of the same crimes that they accuse the Chechen people of. There are a lot of inconsistencies with what the Russians are verbalizing and what they are actually doing in reality. The destruction of the Chechen peoples infrastructure, which provides protection from the freezing winters and disease, is terrorism in the true sense that inflict psychological, physical, and mental harm on the entire Chechen population numbering under one million. Russias unwillingness to accept international human rights organizations into Chechnya to investigate human rights abuses indicates that Russia is not being honest as to what their actions are in Chechnya. The organizations that were denied access to Chechnya were OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International. Russia did not agree to renew OSCE mandate of carrying out humanitarian aid and monitoring human rights. The decision was viewed by the human rights organizations as an attempt to shut out international scrutiny of human rights in the strife-torn republic (Time). Russian refusal to readmit OSCE into Chechnya adds to the gravity of charges leveled against the Russians. It is interesting how the Russian controlled media reported of a Russian de-miner being blown up in Chechnya. The ITAR-TASS is the Russian government official news agency. ITAR-TASS reported in the following manner, Having reacted from a source stating that the landmine had been activated, the equipment exploded the mine together with a minor. The quote is from an official Russian government online newspaper. ITAR-TASS news reporting shows that Russians have no honor to even come out with the truth about their own people

being blown up. Then how can we expect the Russians to come out and tell the truth about what is happing in Chechnya? The concrete evidence as presented above supports the theory that Russias interest is not fighting terrorism since it is committing terrorism itself against the Chechen people. Russia started both wars, the first war in 1994-96, and the present war that began again in 1999, in order to control the natural resources of the strategic geopolitical area within the Caucasus region, and not to suppress terrorism. The reports from the Human Rights Watch and others have confirmed in the strongest language of what is happening to the Chechen people. Every day, the Russians humiliate and kill Chechens in their own country. The Russians are not in Chechnya to suppress terrorism because Russia is itself committing terrorism against the same people of whom it alleges is protecting it from. The facts outlined in this research paper prove that Russia is committing gross human rights violation day in and day out. The real reason and the only reason why Russia went in to Chechnya was to control the flow of oil from the Caspian Sea to the world markets. By occupying Chechnya, Russia has the control over the natural geopolitical resources that Chechnya holds for the Caucasian Region.

Work Cited Bennett, Vanora. Crying Wolf The Return of War to Chechnya. London: Pan Books, 2001. Ebel, Robert, and Rajan Menon, eds. Energy and Conflict in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000. Evangelista, Matthew. The Chechen Wars: Will Russia Go the Way of the Soviet Union? Washington DC: Brookings Institution, 2002. Goulding, Vincent J. Back to the Future With Asymmetric Warfare. Parameters Winter. 2000-01: 2130. Herspring, Dale R., eds. Putins Russia: Past Imperfect, Future Uncertain. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003. Holland, Ron. Personal E-Mail Interview. 02 Apr. 2003. Human Rights Watch. Welcome to Hell Arbitrary Detention, Torture, and Extortion in Chechnya. New York: Human Rights Watch, 2000. ITAR-TASS News Agency. Russian Sec Council Discuss Preparation for Referendum in Chechnya. ITAR-TASS 7 Mar. 2003: LexisNexis. Auraria Lib., Denver, CO. Mar. 16 2003 < 09d300cc22578cf4147b424c10c414c&_docnum=5&wchp=dGLbVzzlSlzV&_md5=99c57aabd 0a8c04b7b13ec59f376ba19>. Russell, John. Mujahedeen, Mafia, Madmen: Russian Perceptions of Chechens During the Wars in Chechnya, 1994-96 and 1999-2001. The Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics 18.1 (2002): 73-96. Shah, Anup. Crisis in Chechnya. 16 May 2001. 30 Mar. 2003. < >. Talbot, Karen. Chechnya: More Blood for Oil. 30 Mar. 2003 < >.

United States. Energy Information Administration. Russia. Washington: GPO. 2002. <>.