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Georgia Foils Terror Attack on Russia-Armenia Gas Pipeline

Georgia’s security services have thwarted an attempt by terrorists to blow up a pipeline that supplies natural gas from Russia to Armenia in an area outside Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, Russian-language Georgian website Gruzia Online reported on Monday. 

Georgia’s State Security Service have detained seven people, including a police patrol officer, who were trying to blow up the Russia-Armenia pipeline and are now facing charges of having links to terrorist organizations. One of the detainees has often traveled to Ukraine, Gruzia Online reported, citing a security services official.

Local-sources information on the chain of events is scarce, and not entirely impartial, with the region often being the theater of clashes and controversies since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Armenia is landlocked and does not have resources, and as such, relies heavily on imports. The Armenian subsidiary of Russian giant Gazprom operates thousands of miles of gas branches of the gas transmission system and gas pipelines. In the first half of 2016, Gazprom Armenia shipped 818.3 million cubic meters of gas from the Russian Federation to Armenia, which has a population of around three million people.

Armenia has very strained relations with two of its neighboring countries: Turkey and Azerbaijan, over the 1915 killing of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire, and over a two-decade old conflict with oil-and-gas-rich Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabach.

That’s why Armenia’s natural energy allies in the region are Russia and lately, Iran. A recently proposed energy project in the South Caucasus is aimed at creating a single, common electricity market between Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Iran. Analysts argue, however, that it could further tighten Russia’s grip on the southern Caucasus.

On the other hand, the lifting of the sanctions against Iran can also bolster energy cooperation between Iran and Armenia.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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