04/05/2007, 00.00
RUSSIA - ITALY
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Eni, Enel, Alitalia, Telecom: the US-Russia clash for the control of Eurasia

by Maurizio d'Orlando
The economic moves and alliances between Italy and Russia bring to mind an old political project: that of building a great continental power to dominate Eurasia. The American and Mexican "counter offensive." Some analysis and some hypothesis.
Milan (AsiaNews) - Is there a political strategy behind the great economic manoeuvres between Russia and Italy, in the petroleum, gas, electric energy and airline sectors?
 
The news of the day is that Eni and Enel (companies listed on the stock exchange, but both controlled by the Italian state) have formed a company – Eni Neftegas, which is controlled by Eni (60%) and by Enel (40%) – which has won one of the most important auctions held by the Russian government after the dismemberment of Yukos. With its winning bid of 5,83 billion dollars, Eni Neftegas takes control of three companies – Arctic Gas, Urengoil and Neftegastechnologia – which had been part to the Yukos empire, plus 20% of Gazprom Neft, the oil division of Gazprom, the Russian state gas company.
 
Eni, Enel, Gazprom agreements
 
Eni and Enel’s agreement with Gazprom includes an option for the latter to buy a 51% stake in Eni Neftegas within two years. Gazprom also has a similar two-year option for buying a 20% interest in Gasprom Neft.
 
All things considered, it would be an understatement to say that the assets bought today by Eni and Enel, which will remain their property after the option is exercised, are being paid at a price that can be considered “advantageous”: 0.40 dollars per barrel of petroleum or the equivalent in gas, for proven and extractible oil and hydrocarbon equivilant. Also worth highlighting is the degree of integration and reciprocal favours between the two companies controlled by Italy and Russia.  Beyond the considerable level of mutual trust implicated by the call option, not to be forgotten is that, following Putin’s recent visit to Italy, Gazprom obtained the right to market its natural gas directly in Italy, at much better prices than those obtained on the basis of contracts with the former Italian natural gas monopoly. Furthermore, through the agreement with RosAtom – the federal agency for nuclear energy of the Russian Federation – Enel is the world’s only non-Russian group to which Moscow has opened its nuclear station market.
 
The agreement which has been signed foresees: 1) joint development of electrical and nuclear energy systems in Russia and in mid-eastern Europe; 2) the building of new nuclear generation stations and the management of already-existing nuclear stations; 3) a joint commitment to strengthen the electricity transport system.
 
Also to be noted is the fact that the Russian state airlines, Aeroflot, is participating in a position of pre-eminence in the auction to buy Alitalia, the airline company controlled by the Italian state, which is loosing some one million euros a day.
 
The Heartland Project
 
The impression is that all these economic initiatives are part of a strategic plan put into play by Putin and his entourage for supremacy not only in Eastern Europe but also the southern border delineated by the warm Mediterranean waters in which Italy is centrally placed.
 
All this seems to be a reproposal or better yet the realization of Mackinder’s theories, from 1904, to which AsiaNews has already referred in the past. The essence of his thought goes as follows:  given that the Anglo-Saxon world is projected toward the sea, and exercises an almost-absolute power which is essentially naval, the only possible competitor could be a great continental power which dominates Eurasia. For Mackinder, the geopolitical centre of the world is what he called the Heartland, the heart of Eurasia. Thus, to summarize Mackinder’s theory: whoever controls the Heartland controls the Eurasian-African block; whoever controls the Eurasian-African block controls the world.  A compulsory cornerstone to Mackinder’s strategic vision was preventing at all costs that the Heartland reached as far as the seas and oceans, as that would have been a threat to the survival of the supremacy of Anglo-Saxon naval power. Another requisite was preventing any convergence between Russia and Germany, so as not to give rise to an extended super-state with enormous resources.
 
In such a context, the surprise move made by U.S.-based AT&T – with the support of America Movil – on the Telecom telephone network (a former Italian state monopoly) could appear to be a countermove in an equally strategic sector, telecommunications.
 
From this point of view, it is almost like still being immersed in the clash strategies of World War One.  This time however the race is not to arms, but one of financial manoeuvres.
 
It is odd to note, in this regard, that Mihail Khodorkosky, the former owner of Yukos – declared bankrupt by Russian authorities – connected with the very unclear privatization procedures that gave rise to the company, has acquired Israeli nationality and that Lord Rothschild took measures in his favour, with all the weight of his enormous banking and finance behemoth.
 
Telecom: U.S.-Mexico against Putin
 
All this is odd because it takes us back to 1917 when support was given by Wall Street finances to the naturalized-American Russian Jew Lev Davidovich Bronstein, alias Trotzky, which, thanks to the reorganization of the Red Army with contributions from American bankers Jakob Schiff and Rockefeller, correspondents of the Rothschild Bank of London, allowed Lenin’s Bolsheviks to triumph in the civil war. Fleeing from Stalin, Trotsky took refuge in Mexico, where a constitution which is strongly anti-clerical and anti-Catholic had been adopted and still today remains practically unchanged. This massonic-style constitution, designed by Pancho Villa 1919, was born off the Mexican Revolution, which had strong initial support of U.S. President Wilson.
 
Today, too, we are witnessing a surprising U.S.-Mexican cartel, AT&T with America Movil, in favour of which even the American Ambassador in Italy, Ronald Spogli, took quick action, rushing to talk to Italian Premier Romano Prodi to ensure that nothing stands in the way of the financial manoeuvre for the control of Telecom.
 
What is surprising is that not a few of the neo-con advisors of the U.S. Administration in their youth had openly declared their Trotskyist sympathies and the intention to export the Permanent Revolution advocated by Trotsky. Today, the terminology has been updated: there is no longer talk of exporting the Permanent Revolution throughout the world, but “Democracy”, or better, its most supreme form, perfect corporate governance of the “sacred” market rules established by Anglo-Saxon market systems. The doubt is however that the Russians understand democracy differently and it would not be surprising if they were to make some kind of a countermove, perhaps by means of, for example, Deutsche Telecom, an expression of that welding of the eastern part of the Heartland of which Mackinder spoke.
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