WASHINGTON, June 13 (UPI) -- Russia's clash with the former Soviet republic of Georgia is a move to control the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, Zbigniew Brzezinski told the U.S. Senate.
Brzezinski testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting on Central Asian and European energy issues. The hearing, "Oil, Oligarchs and Opportunity: Energy from Central Asia to Europe," looked into Russian control over oil and gas reserves and pipelines in the region.
Brzezinski, the national security adviser to former President Jimmy Carter, told Senate leaders the Russian incursion into Georgia was not over territorial disputes but an attempt to take over the BTC pipeline linking Caspian Sea resource assets to the Mediterranean Sea through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, the Azeri news agency Today said.
"If the Georgian government is destabilized, Western access to Baku, the Caspian Sea and further will be limited," Today quoted Brzezinski as saying.
A notification on the Web site of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Brzezinski's testimony was not immediately available as of Friday, saying, "Statements are only posted if provided electronically by witness."
Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., chairman of the committee, said there are opportunities for Western countries to diversify their energy resources in the region, but only if governments are willing to pressure Russia for the opportunity.
"It is not just the sheer volume of oil and money that is enhancing Russia's power. They have shown that they are willing to use their dominance of both ends of most existing pipelines to extract not just economic deals but, increasingly, political influence," Biden said.