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How will Russia and Iran respond to the US challenge in the Caspian Sea?

How will Russia and Iran respond to the US challenge in the Caspian Sea?

On May 5 2018 Kazakhstan ratified an agreement with the US for the transit of US military cargo and possibly even troops (under the euphemism of ‘advisors’ or ‘engineers’) to Afghanistan via the Caspian Sea route.

The ostensible reason is that the US’s long established supply lines to Afghanistan via Pakistan are now ‘under threat’.  However, as is often the case nowadays, the reality is rather more complicated.

Just five months before the agreement was reached, in December 2017, purportedly at the instigation of the businessman Anatolie Stati who is involved in a longstanding legal dispute with the Kazakh authorities, the Bank of New York Mellon froze $22.6 billion of funds belonging to Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund.

The May transit agreement between Kazakhstan and the US which followed shows that, as we say in Russia, ‘the subject (in this case Kazakhstan) got the message.’

This little piece of economic pressure shows that what is involved is more than just a logistical arrangement for a war in Afghanistan which the US anyway seems keen – presumably for its own reasons – to perpetuate indefinitely.

The effect of the agreement is that the US now has a presence in the two east Caspian ports of Aktau and Kuryk.  Though this has been done ostensibly in order to transfer US supplies to Afghanistan, in reality it gives the US for the first time a military presence in the Caspian Sea, which until then had been exclusively an ‘inner lake’ of the countries which surround it.

The two Caspian Sea states which are the most affected are Russia and Iran, the two Caspian Sea ‘giants’ which between them account for by far the greater share of the combined GDP of the Caspian Sea littoral states.  Not coincidentally they are the two Caspian Sea littoral states with the worst relations with Washington.

In the case of Russia there is a particular military dimension to the arrival of a US military presence in the Caspian Sea, in that Russia’s Caspian Sea flotilla has launched cruise missile strikes on Jihadi fighters engaged in the war in Syria.

This revelation of the great strategic importance of Russia’s Caspian Sea flotilla has seriously alarmed Washington, and has given the US a particular reason for wanting to establish a military presence in the Caspian Sea, from where it can keep track of Russia’s Caspian Sea flotilla, and potentially even in time pose a challenge to it.

In the case of Iran, a US military presence in the Caspian Sea creates a new potential US military threat to Iran from the north, balancing the US threat to Iran from the south provided by the large US naval presence in the Persian Gulf and the US military bases located there.

So the big question is how will the two ‘Caspian giants’ – Russia and Iran – respond to this challenge?  Will they work together to confront it, as they have worked together successfully to confront the joint challenge they have faced in Syria?

Will they in fact forge a strategic partnership with each other to confront the potential threat in the Caspian Sea that they both now face, possibly along the lines of the partnership which exists between the US and Britain?

I ask this question because the current reality is very different.  So far from Russia and Iran working closely together on anything, the wheels of their cooperation on the contrary are clogged up with bureaucratic mud.

Anyone who has ever tried to make a bank transfer from Russia to Iran will know exactly what I mean.  Moreover if you want to fly to Tehran from say the Urals – perhaps from the Yekaterinburg industrial region — you will find that you have to add a whole day to your journey because you have to transit through Moscow.

It is just as bad on the other side. Tabriz international airport in Iran offers direct flights to Batumi, Tbilisi and Yerevan, but not to Krasnodar, southern Russia’s economic capital with a population of three quarters of a million people, notwithstanding that it should take no more than an hour and a half’s flight to get there.

Last but not the least, whilst there is a trans-Caspian cargo ferryboat between Astrakhan in Russia and Bandar-e Anzali in Iran, did you ever hear of a passenger one?  Hardly, because none exists.

See Also

There is an old Russian saying that every problem has its first name, patronymic and surname.  In the case of the total lack of even basic economic coordination between Moscow and Tehran it’s not actually difficult to see what this problem is.

Quite simply, some people in authority in both countries (we won’t say who they are) see their potential Caspian Sea partner as at best an unimportant “second order” friend, and perhaps in some cases even as a potential enemy.

Russia and Iran can – if they have the will – together with their partners form a common market of 250 million people.

That would provide them with the best – perhaps the only – security there is against the sanctions, restrictions, threats and incantations which, regular as clockwork, come from the West’s self-proclaimed guardians of “freedom, democracy and human rights”.

The alternative is to allow the Caspian Sea to become a Sea of Troubles, with the West’s “humanitarian missiles” certain to follow close behind.

With the US now establishing a presence in the Caspian Sea the time for Russia and Iran to start seriously working together is now.

The author is an international correspondent for Russia’s largest circulation newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda

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AM Hants
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AM Hants

I thought the Caspian was off limits, to those who do not border the Sea, owing to keeping it secure?

colum
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colum

[Cough] Cough] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twt2YPXprgo

Go to 1:30 in the vid

tom
Guest
tom

“On May 5 2018 Kazakhstan ratified an agreement with the US for the transit of US military cargo and possibly even troops (under the euphemism of ‘advisors’ or ‘engineers’) to Afghanistan via the Caspian Sea route”.

Why would the Kazakh government do that?

“The ostensible reason is that the US’s long established supply lines to Afghanistan via Pakistan are now ‘under threat’”.

And that is the Kazakh government and people’s problem why?

Methinks I spy money at work again…

tom
Guest
tom

Asian governments need to arrive at a formal understanding that anyone helping the USA to establish military bases – or giving it any potential military help of any kind – on or near the continent of Asia will feel the strong and effective disapproval of all its Asian neighbours.

Just as a householder who encourages armed and murderous drug dealers to enter his street should be told, in no uncertain terms, that either the intruders go – or he goes too.

Andrew Orr
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Andrew Orr

How will Borat respond?

Tommy Jensen
Guest
Tommy Jensen

Guess Israel is making the leverage again. Russia wants to be friends with Israel, thereforethey cant be too close friends with Iran. Thus friendship with Iran become a strategic issue of interests.: Dragging out S-300 deal “to please our Western partners”, dragging out S-300 to Syria which would strenghten Syria-Iran axis “to please our Western partners”, keeping UNSC sanctions against Iran “to please our Western partners”. Iran has to rebalance these Russian interests and try to vector toward China and EU instead. Finally both Russia and Iran are betting and riding on too many horses and their pants crack, because… Read more »

fredd
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fredd

to transfer US supplies to Afghanistan
and how will the US get these supplies in to Kazakhstan?
because it borders into russia and china and is landlocked except the Caspian Sea

wwinsti
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wwinsti

Iran/Russia need to get over their differences fast, if not, you’ll wind up with another US base between both countries, bristling with antennas, listening stations, and probably an X-ban radar. Hate to frame it this way, but 22 billion is a low price to buy out the Kazakhs.

Ugh...
Guest
Ugh...

The cancer spreads

pooi-hoong chan
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pooi-hoong chan

US not only ptactise military terrorism, it also engage in financial terrorism by freezing USD 22 billion of Kazahkstan sovereign wealth fund.

HappyCynic
Guest
HappyCynic

The lesson Kazakhstan learned from this is not to keep US dollars on deposit in the US. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kazakhstan started buying gold. Russia clearly understands this, and doesn’t keep much money in US banks and reduced it’s holdings of US Treasury bills by 50% recently. Russia is also likely to stop keeping money in the EU (look at they way EU countries are trying to cheat Russia – Yukos and Ukraine being prime examples). Gold is a much safer way to store value. Then the question becomes how Russia will get payment for the gas and… Read more »

andyoldlabour
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andyoldlabour

This article is confusing me slightly.
The Caspian is totally landlocked (the only real inlet being the mighty Volga River), a brown water sea/lake.
Kazakhstan is home to the largest and oldest space centre on the planet, the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Russia has a couple of naval bases in the Caspian, which hosts a number of guided missile corvettes/frigates.
I am still confused as to how the US can rock up with military without being challenged?

Nexusfast123
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Nexusfast123

Maybe Russia, Iran and China start to make life in Afghanistan really uncomfortable for the US.

Essene Gnostic
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Essene Gnostic

This is all a Freemasonic charade.

Bessarabyn
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Bessarabyn

Spot on ! Thanks !

normski1
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normski1

As the Caspian Sea is land locked, Russia and Iran have nothing to worry about as the USA cannot station any of it’s war ships in the Caspian Sea. At best, all the USA can do is lease transport ships from a “friendly” country – the Caspian Sea is Russia’s and Iran’s play ground!.

Guy
Guest
Guy

If the banks can freeze funds owned by other nations that easily then every nation in the world should pay special attention to what they are doing investing with Western/US banks.
This is typical modus operendi for the Amerikans .maybe soon they will be begging for foreign investment given the way that the US is alienating everyone with their sanctions and the immanent collapse of the
US $.

Dr. Ronald Cutburth
Guest
Dr. Ronald Cutburth

There ya go again. Russia smashes ISIS from the Caspian sea and makes it the IN place to be. Those that don’t have ships there are simply out of style. Russia will charge them a huge fee to pass through Russian territory to get there. Russia will need to inspect their ships and make them pay the new Tariff in gold. No?

ghifarix@gmail.com
Guest

When a nation /enemy is destined to be destroyed it is always brought closer to its fate……Let the foolish Yankee spread their wings, after time they won’t be in a position to negotiate or escape it’s inevitable demise. How else you’d put down a giant but getting closer to it? In this case let the giant close in, therein lie its fate.

PapaGuns
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PapaGuns

https://eadaily.com/en/news/2018/04/25/kazakhstan-opens-caspian-sea-for-usa

sovereign countries are no longer allowed to make treaties? who knew?

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