While dividing the Caspian Sea, did we lose the fleet?
Isn't it time for Russia to give up the vicious practice of giving everything away, or closing or liquidating it? The reason it does this is unclear. It seems that Russia is ready to make steps towards other countries, but in turn it gets no gratitude. The Lourdes base in Cuba, where "atypical" Chinese are now settled, the Cam Ranh base in Vietnam (which is nobody's yet), and so on. And now, Russia is getting ready to cut the fleet into pieces.
Russia is still objecting to the creation of extra military units on the Caspian Sea, Russian Federation Deputy Foreign Minister and Presidential Special Envoy on Caspian issues Viktor Kalyuzhny says. "If Russia sticks to the demilitarization position, the question arises: why arm first in order to disarm later?", the deputy foreign minister told journalists in Alma-Ata on Monday. He added that if countries belonging to the Caspian region share the principle that the Caspian Sea is a sea of peace, "we should do everything possible to follow that line."
When Viktor Kalyuzhny was asked if Russia itself was ready to liquidate the Caspian flotilla in the framework of the demilitarization process, the envoy said that "in order answer this question in the future, Russia needs more time and must certainly settle the serious Caucasus problem first."
Russia's position concerning the Caspian problem has become quite an obstacle; the situation was quite different last year. The summit of presidents from the Caspian region on division of the Caspian Sea failed. After the summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a three-day visit to Russia's Astrakhan region and demonstrated that Russia has every chance to get its share in the Caspian Sea division. The Russian president thanked the military who had preserved the basic potential of the Caspian flotilla, the flotilla that Vladimir Putin called "the only instrument to secure Russia’s interests."
It was declared that exercises of the Caspian flotilla would be held in the northern and central parts of the sea and would have a military character. Also, Vladimir Putin demanded that as many military men as possible (not only sailors) take part in the exercises. He added that not only vessels of the Caspian flotilla, but also subdivisions of the North Caucasus military circuit, the regional department of the Russian Frontier Service, units of the 4th Air Force armies and the Air Defense would be engaged in the exercises. When this was stated, the order to hold exercises looked like a direct threat to Russia’s neighbors in the area, although officials took every measure to play down the threatening tone of the Russian president.
Taking into consideration the fact that Russia's leader announced an increase of the Russian military presence, the presidents of other countries of the Caspian region may face an unpleasant prospect in the face of a strong Russian fleet. This fleet may become an analogous to the well-known gunboats that at the beginning of the 20th century defended the interests of great powers all over the world with the help of their guns.
The exercises were held and Russia shook its fists, but got zero return. Teheran and Ashkhabad still insist that each party in the Caspian Sea region get 20% each. So, as the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor Kalyuzhny states, it is time to holster the guns. Another summit on the problem is to be held soon, where the Turkmen leader and the Ayatollah will appreciate Russia's present. And Russia will get something in return. Or it won't.