Analysis

Georgian Elections a Win for Russia
Bidzina Ivanishvili, the Prime Minister-elect of Georgia arrives for a meeting with businessmen in Tbilisi on October 5, 2012. The same day, top staff with Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream coalition met with senior staff of President Mikheil Saakashvili’s party to discuss a smooth transfer of power. (VANO SHLAMOV/AFP/GettyImages)
October 8, 2012
| Economics, Energy
| Russia and Central Asia
Summary
The October 1 parliamentary elections in Georgia, which ended with the defeat of a key U.S. ally, is an example of Vladimir Putin’s Russia reasserting itself and will only embolden Moscow in its quest to create a Eurasian Union to rival the West. There is plenty at stake, with three major oil pipelines running through Georgia transporting oil from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea, bypassing Russia. Oil companies such as BP (London/NYSE: BP), Chevron (NYSE: CVX), ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP), Total SA (NYSE: TOT), Eni SpA (NYSE: ENI) and Statoil (NYSE: STO), all of whom have ownership stakes in the pipelines, have some reason for worry as Russia looks to once again exercise control over the Caucasus.

Since the 2003 Rose Revolution that brought President Mikheil Saakashvili to power, Georgia has experienced a period of unprecedented closeness with the United States. The capital, which features a street named after President George W. Bush and a statue of President Ronald Reagan, will now move under the sway of Ivanishvili, a mysterious billionaire with ties to Russia and, according to reports, a collection of lemurs and penguins. Ivanishvili does not yet appear to be interested in moving Georgia completely into Putin’s sphere of influence, but his ties to Russia and interest in improving relations with Georgia’s northern neighbor will indeed strengthen Moscow at Washington’s expense.  

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