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Cheney to rally U.S. allies in Russia's backyard

By Tabassum Zakaria

On 03/09/08.

BAKU (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney arrived in ex-Soviet Azerbaijan on Wednesday for the first leg of a trip to show that Washington stands by its allies in the region after Russia's military intervention in Georgia.

As Cheney came into a region Russia sees as its backyard, the Kremlin renewed its rhetorical attacks on Washington, accusing it of helping to trigger the conflict by backing a pro-Western Georgian government bent on aggression.

Azerbaijan and Georgia are links in the chain of a Western-backed energy corridor bypassing Russia which the West fears could be in jeopardy after the Kremlin last month sent troops and tanks deep into Georgian territory when Tbilisi tried to retake the separatist region of South Ossetia by force.

Cheney began his week-long trip in Azerbaijan on the Caspian Sea, then heads to Georgia and from there to Kiev for meetings with Ukraine's pro-Western government, which like Tbilisi is defying Moscow by seeking membership of NATO.

"These are the three countries that are the most directly affected by Russian pressure at the moment," said Janusz Bugajski, director of the New European Democracies Project at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"It's also sending a regional signal that America hasn't walked away from the region," he said of Cheney's trip, which will round off with a visit to Italy.


The Kremlin on Tuesday signaled it had little patience with Washington's role on its southern flank.

The United States, Georgia's closest big-power ally, has been fiercely critical of the Russian intervention there and is weighing options to punish Moscow, including scrapping a lucrative civil nuclear deal.

U.S. President George W. Bush's administration will announce on Wednesday a package of roughly $1 billion dollars in aid to help rebuild Georgia, an administration official said.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday said it was time for Washington to re-evaluate its policy of supporting Georgia's staunchly pro-Western President Mikheil Saakashvili.

"Unfortunately, at a certain point they (the United States) gave Saakashvili carte blanche for any actions, including military. All that was translated into aggression," Medvedev told Italy's RAI television network in an interview.

Medvedev also described Saakashvili, a U.S.-educated lawyer with a Dutch wife, as a "political corpse," and said Moscow wanted nothing to do with him.

Medvedev's remarks contrasted with the more conciliatory language he used about the European Union, which on Monday threatened to suspend talks on a partnership pact but rejected sanctions on Russia, the EU's biggest energy supplier.

Russia sparked Western condemnation by sending its forces deep into Georgia and later recognizing the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.

Russia said it was morally obliged to attack Georgia to prevent what it called a genocide in the rebel region. Moscow says it is in full compliance with a French-brokered ceasefire.


In an effort to show Russia could still act as honest broker in separatist conflicts, Medvedev was expected to press for a peaceful settlement when he meets the head of a breakaway region in ex-Soviet Moldova on Wednesday.

Azerbaijan pumps nearly one million barrels a day of high quality crude -- equivalent to about one percent of the world's oil supplies -- through a BP-led pipeline that passes through Georgia and Turkey.

In a move likely to alarm the pipeline's Western backers, Azerbaijan has said it is re-routing some of its crude to a rival route through Russia, citing the conflict in Georgia as part of the reason.

"The importance of working with Azerbaijan to help its people develop their energy resources and reliably bring them to market is a very strong common interest, not just for the United States but for all the nations of Europe as well, as they plan for their own energy futures," a senior U.S. administration official told reporters last week.

Azerbaijan and Georgia are both pivotal in plans for the Nabucco pipeline, a project backed by Washington and Brussels to break Moscow's stranglehold on the transit of Central Asian gas by shipping it to Europe around Russia's southern flank.


Click to view image: '221462-images0000.jpg'

Added: Sep-3-2008 
By: wrano
Tags: US, Cheney, Russia, Politics, Oil, Gas, Energy, Azerbaijan
Location: Baku, Baki, Azerbaijan (load item map)
Views: 5920 | Comments: 13 | Votes: 1 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 1
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  • Maybe his tin heart will give out before he starts yet another unwanted war for control of oil pipelines.

    America will cheer the day this human corpes is 6 feet under.

    Posted Sep-3-2008 By 

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  • What choice does America have?
    The missile shield is not only logical it is the only choice Americans have. They created the bomb, and now too many people have it, and worse more and more are getting it. Any other country in the world would if they could build such a defense weapon.

    In the end this is a defensive weapon, the Russians do not like it because they know once the Americans have a means to defend themselves and others in the region they are pretty much done for. So Pultin has a More..

    Posted Sep-3-2008 By 

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  • Typical logic: any state pro-western, is therefor anti-Russia and therefor a threat and marked. If one in European region wants to pursue supplemental, multi-polar pipeline supply sources, which is not Moscow related, then one is seeking to isolate Russia.

    Hysterical and extremist. Sorry.

    P.S. Georgia and Kremlin need to chill out and come to a final settlement which includes non-aggression and co-existence and political integrity. Seriously, if Putin were president of Georgia and the More..

    Posted Sep-3-2008 By 

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  • Azerbaijan has oil Americans need - so Azerbaijan has to be a dictatorship and it is one. And I bet Cheney will not talk about democracy there but about continued american support, weapon deliveries, CIA help in oppressing the opposition.

    Democracy is as it seems not desirable in oil countries, to instable, all that unrest...

    Posted Sep-3-2008 By 

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  • let's start world war 3!!!

    hell yeah cheney you tell em!!!

    Posted Sep-3-2008 By 

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  • If canada gets involved then Im fuucked

    Posted Sep-3-2008 By 

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  • The most hateful man alive (compare to Bush, the most hated man alive) thinks he still holds the joystick of unlimited power.

    Posted Sep-3-2008 By 

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  • Oh yeah, this is definitely how to keep the peace. As if they don't hate us enough.

    Posted Sep-3-2008 By 

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  • What a "dick". You go man!

    Posted Sep-3-2008 By 

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  • Timmaahh

    Posted Sep-3-2008 By 

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