Russia prepares for naval blockade of Georgia

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Richard Moore

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Aug 11, 2008, 2:24:47 AM8/11/08
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Russia Prepares for Naval Blockade of Georgia

Kommersant
August 9, 2008

Ships are grouping in the Black Sea near the Georgian aquatic border. A
unnamed naval source has said that the move is necessary to prevent arms
deliveries to Georgia by sea. He added that the naval blockade of Georgia
will help avoid escalation of military actions in Abkhazia. Radio station
Echo of Moscow reports that several Georgian Internet publications have
confirmed that the Russian Black Sea fleet is regrouping.

Witnesses say that several Georgian military vessels attempted to approach
the coast of Abkhazia. The Interfax correspondent in Sukhumi reports that
the Georgian attempt was countered by the Russian Black Sea Fleet, which
opened preventative fire. The Interfax information was confirmed by
enforcement bodies in Abkhazia.

Apparently, after Georgian forces were repulsed from Tskhinvali, air
connections with Georgian were broken and Georgian military activity was
suppressed and Russia began economic suppression.

Georgia in the meantime is accusing Russia of attempting to blow up the
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Georgian Minister of Economic Development
Ekaterina Sharashidze stated that Russian Air Force planes attacked the
pipeline, but missed their target. “That makes it clear that the targets of
the Russian military were not only Georgian economic objects, but
international objects on Georgian territory,” she said. Reports were
received throughout the day that Russian military planes struck targets in
Georgia, however, they were military, not economic.

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline runs a total of 1768 km., of which 443 km.
stretches through Azerbaijan, 249 km. through Georgia and 1076 km. through
Turkey. Construction of the pipeline began in 2003 and it began to pump oil
on May 18, 2005. About 1 million barrels of oil per year are pumped through
the pipeline. Construction of the pipeline cost $4 billion, not counting the
filling of the pipeline, financial servicing or interest costs. The
shareholders in the pipeline are BP (30,1%), AzBTC (25%), Chevron (8,9%),
StatoilHydro (8,71%), ТРАО (6,53%), ENI (5%), Total (5%), Itochu (3,4%),
Inpex (2,5%), ConocoPhillips (2,5%) and Hess (2,36%).


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