The standoff began last week when Georgia President Mikail Saakashvili arrested the 4 officers and charged them with espionage. Putin protested their detention to the UN and demanded their immediate release. He then phoned the White House and issued a terse warning that "any actions taken by third parties (the Bush administration) would be considered encouragement of Georgia's destructive policy and were unacceptable for peace and dangerous for the peace and stability of the region." (Itar-Tass News agency)
Saakashvili has since retreated from his hard-line position and delivered the 4 officers to the care of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) The UN group then promptly returned the men to Russia. In the interim, the United States blocked a resolution that would have quickly resolved the dispute, a move which further angered Moscow.
So, what is going on here?
Saakashvili is an American stooge no different than Karzai in Afghanistan. He came to power via the American-sponsored "Rose Revolution" which swept Eduard Shevardnadze from office and replaced him with the Yale-educated neocon puppet, Saakashvili. The "color-coded" revolutions have since been exposed as US-backed charades in which NED-funded NGOs foment political upheaval by providing financial resources, printing presses and logistical support to opposition parties within the given system. It has become the preferred method of "regime change" for the Western elites who favor spreading American-style capitalism by peaceful means rather than Iraq-type violence.
As Michel Chossudovsky notes in a recent article "The Next Phase of the Middle East War" (Global Research):
"Military exercises organized by Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan under the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) were launched in late August. These war games, officially tagged as part of a counter terrorism program were conducted in response to US-Israeli military threats in the region including planned attacks against Iran".
Russia also conducted war games with China earlier in the year setting aside their traditional differences and suspicions to achieve the mutual goal of enhanced security from foreign aggression. Putin clearly has not been hoodwinked by Bush's fictitious war on terror. Like the other leaders in the region, he is anticipating that the US will continue to push into Central Asia, establishing bases and pipeline routes while trying to gain control the vast reserves of oil and natural gas.
Political heavyweight, Zbigniew Brzezinski, clarified the importance of Central Asia to US plans for global dominance in his book, "The Grand Chessboard". In it he states:
"Ever since the continents started interacting politically, some 500 years ago, Eurasia has been the center of world power"..."For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia-and America's global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained"...."How America manages Eurasia is critical. Eurasia is the globe's largest continent and is geopolitically axial. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world's three most advanced and economically productive regions. A mere glance at the map also suggests that control over Eurasia would almost automatically entail Africa's subordination, rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania geopolitically peripheral to the world's central continent. About 75% of the world's people live in Eurasia and most of the world's physical wealth as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for 60% of the world's GNP and about three-fourths of the world's known energy resources." ("The Grand Chessboard")
Brzezinski's book provides the basic blueprint (which was further elaborated in the Project for the New American Century) for the administration's present policy in Central Asia. The current maneuverings in Georgia are the predictable flare-ups that result from a policy that is rooted in hostility and expansion.
The growing distrust between Washington and Moscow goes beyond Bush's plan to deploy NATO to the former Soviet republics. Washington is also unhappy with Putin's nationalizing the oil industry (Gazprom) and ditching the dollar in the oil trade. Just months ago, Putin announced that he would switch from the "international currency" (the greenback) to the ruble. Presently, Russia provides 15.4% of world daily output of oil; second only to Saudi Arabia. Previously, oil transactions had been denominated exclusively in dollars. This de-facto monopoly in the oil trade is a great boon to the American economy. It forces central banks around the world to stockpile mountains of dollars. By some accounts, there could be as much as $4.6 trillion either in central banks or circulating in oil transactions.
Putin's conversion to the ruble poses a direct threat to America's dollar hegemony and could potentially send hundreds of billions of dollars back to the United States triggering massive hyper-inflation and an economic meltdown. (this may explain why the Federal Reserve cancelled publishing the M-3 report so that dollar holders will not know how many billions are being returned)