Moldova sent troops to Iraq under Partnership for Peace obligations and both it and Belarus are now targeted by the European Union's Eastern Partnership for further distancing from the Commonwealth of Independent States and Russia and to be corralled into the EU-NATO-US paddock.
Though the lion's share of the task remains with Simmons.
His objective and the underlying geostrategic exigencies actuating it are clear.
"[T]he only alternative [to Kyrgyz] routes into Afghanistan are from the north, through the Central Asian countries...Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are pivotal.
"NATO’s greater strategic interest is in the South Caucasus East-West Corridor, which, some commentators have said for years, is much more than three energy pipelines.
"With NATO allies Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey on the western and southern shores of the Black Sea, Georgia, on the eastern shore, is the natural gateway to a corridor that connects Europe to Afghanistan."
("From Peshawar to Batumi: Time to Realize the East-West Corridor," Georgian Daily, December 29, 2008)
A Turkish analyst traces the intended trajectory as follows:
"The recent struggle around the Black Sea region has now reached Georgia, having moved from Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria and Romania, one by one.
"Poland and the Czech Republic could be added to this list, since the clash over the missile shield has led to the perception of an encirclement policy.
"The U.S. is gradually directing its resources away from Europe towards the Middle East, the Caucasus and its neighboring regions."
("The new battle zone for global hegemony: the Caucasus," Turkish Daily News, October 22, 2008)
In conjunction with the State Department's Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried (2) and its Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs (and previously Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State on Caspian Basin Energy Diplomacy) Matthew Bryza (3) - who arrived at their current posts in May and June of 2005, respectively - reviewing Simmons' travels and actions over the past year is the best manner in which to examine how his and his superiors' plan is progressing.
He continues to hold two top NATO posts, that of Deputy Assistant Secretary General of NATO for Security Cooperation and Partnership as well as Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, and as such his range is broad though his projects are integrally related.
In January of last year, seven months before the Georgia-Russia Caucasus war and the near US/NATO-Russian showdown in the Black Sea, Simmons was paraphrased as advocating that "NATO is ready to contribute to resolution of conflicts in the Black Sea region."
In his own words,“NATO can play a significant role in the establishment of
stability in the region.”
(PanArmenian.net, January 14, 2008)
Two days later he was in the capital of Moldova, one of the few post-Soviet nations he's not directly tasked to draw into NATO, where "According to the Moldovan Foreign Ministry, Robert Simmons will have meetings with Moldovan officials to discuss the current relations between Moldova and NATO, the head of state’s initiatives aimed at solving the Transdniestrian dispute and the implementation of the NATO Individual Partnership Action Plan."
(Reporter.MD, January 16, 2008)
"Solving the Transdniestrian dispute" alludes to NATO intervening in one of the four so-called frozen conflicts in the ex-Soviet Union. He would attempt to intrude the Alliance into the other three after his trip to Chisinau.
In Azerbaijan in March of the same year, Simmons announced that "NATO is prepared to provide aid to South Caucasus and Central Asia countries to protect energy facilities."
(Trend News Agency, March 7, 2008)
The above report added "There are large energy facilities in Azerbaijan, including oil and gas terminals in Sangachal, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Baku-Novorossiysk and Baku-Supsa and South-Caucasus gas pipelines."
While in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku he also said that “NATO is ready to consider the membership of Azerbaijan,” as he oversaw the second part of the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) for the nation.
(Interfax, March 8, 2008)
Azerbaijan had recently withdrawn its contingent of troops serving with NATO's Kosovo Command because it feared that the Western-engineered secession of the Serbian province might serve as a precedent for Nagorno-Karabakh, which Baku still insists it will regain by military means.
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