From the time
of Brezhnev, the Russian economy has come to depend to a
considerable extent on the export of oil as one of the main sources
of hard currency revenues. Chechnya had substantial oil reserves.
Even more importantly, the pipelines were built through its
territory to carry oil from the rich fields of Azerbaijan to
Russia’s seaports. Chechnya provides the gateway to the Caspian and
central Asia, which holds a substantial share of world oil and
natural gas reserves. The safety of those pipelines could hardly be
guaranteed by Dudayev’s regime.
interpret the events in the region as a global-strategic game played
by the major world powers in their struggle for access to natural
resources. The competition had begun as far back as the
early nineteenth century, when the British began their “Great Game”
for the control of the mineral resources of the Caspian region.
Their plans, however, were thwarted by the Russian revolution and
the creation of the Soviet Union.
Second World War one of Nazi Germany’s key objectives in invading
the Soviet Union was to gain control of the Caucasian oil supplies,
but their defeat at Stalingrad dashed these intentions. Following
the collapse of the Soviet Union, the “Great Game” has revived with
all major transnational energy companies are involved in the
exploration and exploitation of natural resources in the former
Soviet republics of the Caspian region.
The independence of Chechnya and its hostility to Russia would
automatically exclude or seriously impede Russia’s participation in
major international projects on transporting the mineral resources
of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan through the Russian
North Caucasus into Europe.