August 30, 2002
2:36 PM   Subscribe

Russia to Sign Oil Deal with Iraq. We saw this coming (right?) But is the timing significant?
posted by Shane (9 comments total)
(Politics: It's always all just about the gravy. Does this place more pressure on the U.S. to force a regime change on Iraq?)
posted by Shane at 2:37 PM on August 30, 2002

hrm, wasn't Russia supposed to be like have an unlimited supply of oil or something?
posted by delmoi at 2:49 PM on August 30, 2002

US officials have greeted the news of a fresh oil deal with barely concealed indifference. Why

Wtf is "barely concealed indiffrence"!?
posted by delmoi at 2:50 PM on August 30, 2002

...wasn't Russia supposed to... have an unlimited supply of oil..?

Russia has trouble exploiting its own resources without the help of outsiders (like Exxon.)
posted by Shane at 3:10 PM on August 30, 2002

When I heard about this oil deal on NPR the other day, and then Russia's meeting w/N. Korea to increase trade I thought oh fuck.

Then I got to thinking it isn't that evil on Russia's part --- they see an opportunity to exploit Iraq and N. Korea because the US won't trade with them. If Russia plays its cards right, they can make a boatload of money off of the axis of evil. Russia has the upper hand in trade negotiations so they can put the screws to the axis of evil. Russia can turn around and sell the stuff to the west at a tidy profit. We did such a great job teaching capitalism to Russia.

The impact on the impending invasion of Iraq is unknown. I'm sure Putin won't get in the way of GWB's moral mission to bring democracy to Iraq as long as it doesn't muck up his flow of cash.
posted by birdherder at 4:22 PM on August 30, 2002

I see this as a "priming the pump" deal to cement economic relations between two frustrated would-be powers, thereby hitting upon a way to give the US the finger. Russia gets some traction in the arena of world affairs, which they've come to miss. Iraq gets a steady customer for its oil in exchange for a ready supply of weaponry -- who knows, maybe either or both powers will decide to ignore the UN sanctions and effectively dare the US and UK to interfere.

This potentially complicates the shrub's winter/spring plans for Iraq substantially.
posted by alumshubby at 5:19 PM on August 30, 2002

Maybe what the world is really saying is "We have no faith in Shrub's ability to pull this off"
posted by Fupped Duck at 6:04 PM on August 30, 2002

I'm sure Putin won't get in the way of GWB's moral mission to bring democracy to Iraq as long as it doesn't muck up his flow of cash.

Russia would go to war to secure an oil supply.

Russia sacrificed many lives and spent over a decade trying to secure an oil supply in Afghanistan. GWB grabbed that and is now in a position to strategically control oil resources in central Asia.

In the Japanese game of Go, if your opponent makes an aggressive move that threatens to capture some of your stones, you can either try to defend these stones (and lose initiative) or create a new formation elsewhere on the board.

GWB is in a position to capture Afghanistan. Russia has decided that, rather than fighting for a country that it couldn't control in the first place, Russia would take a diplomatic/economic initiative in Iraq.

It's not about cash flow or democracy - it is about securing oil supply. Oil is to nations what air and water are to human beings. Cash, democracy and freedom of speech for that matter are nothing more than agreements. Agreements are like piggy banks. We put the piggy banks in a safe places and 'feed' them over a long period of time but quickly break them open the moment we find something that we value more than the piggy bank or what it holds.

posted by cup at 6:34 PM on August 30, 2002

Oh jeez.

cup, there is no oil in Afghanistan. At best, they have some natural gas supplies in the far north. The "oil pipeline" stuff (really, a "natural gas pipeline", but you never hear the left use those unsexy words) is about access to the Central Asian states -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan -- which, during the Soviet-Afghan war, were part of the Soviet Union. Then, as now, they have all the oil -- and natural gas -- they really need on their own territory; we signed a deal with Moscow for US companies to exploit reserves in their Far East, with a port to be built at Sakhalin island. They're also feverishly building pipelines so that they can ship natural gas to Europe. So you're way off on your whole "go game" analysis.

Oil is an important resource, but your focus on it is not unlike certain conspiracy theorists'.

As for the reasoning behind the Iraq deal, Jane's pegged it. If there's no war, the sanctions regime -- which has been crumbling for some time -- falls apart completely, and Russia benefits. If there is a war, the new Iraqi regime, blessed by the UN, will be free of sanctions. Russia wins either way; this isn't really a thumb in the eye move, or at least a substantial one. (For instance, Russia is playing good cop to our bad cop on the N Korea question, urging them to build a railway between Russia and S Korea. The timing is perfect enough to imagine it's been coordinated.) Now, why would Russia want an "oil deal" with Iraq, if they have plenty of their own oil? It's the $billions that the USSR loaned to Iraq, mostly during the I/I war. $billions that Russia needs today. $billions that they will never see as long as Iraq is under UN sanctions. This "oil deal" isn't about shipping oil to Russia, which is practically oleaginous in the stuff; it's about Iraq selling oil and sending Russia a slice of the net, to pay off those presently-uncollectable loans.
posted by dhartung at 7:22 AM on August 31, 2002

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