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Russia May Face Wars Over Energy, Kremlin Says

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has accused Europe of coveting Rusia's mineral resources.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has accused Europe of coveting Rusia's mineral resources.

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia may face wars on its borders in the near future over control of energy resources, a Kremlin document on security policy says.

The paper did not name potential adversaries, but Russia, the world's biggest energy producer, shares a border of more than 3,600 kilometers with resource-hungry China and a small sea border with the United States.

"In a competition for resources, problems that involve the use of military force cannot be excluded that would destroy the balance of forces close to the borders of the Russian Federation and her allies," said the document, which maps out Russia's security strategy until 2020.

"The attention of international politics in the long-term perspective will be concentrated on the acquisition of energy resources," the paper said.

It said regions where such a competition for resources could arise included the Middle East, the Barents Sea, the Arctic, the Caspian Sea, and Central Asia. Russia also sees increased competition for food, fresh water, and land.

The strategy document was approved by President Dmitry Medvedev on May 12 and published on May 13 by the Russian Security Council, which includes Russia's top politicians and intelligence chiefs and is chaired by Medvedev.

Russia, the world's largest producer of gas and second biggest exporter of oil, sees these resources as a way to revive its clout as an "energy superpower" after the chaos which accompanied the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.

Gas Rivalry

The Kremlin has watched with displeasure as the European Union, the United States and China seek to challenge its dominance over energy supplies from the former Soviet Union.

Former President Vladimir Putin, now prime minister, has accused Washington of coveting Russia's mineral wealth.

The European Union, which gets a quarter of its gas from Russia, is pushing a pipeline project known as Nabucco which would bypass Russia in pumping up to 31 billion cubic meters of gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe.

The EU has courted Turkmenistan, Central Asia's biggest gas producer, as a potential supplier for Nabucco. This has provoked feverish Russian diplomacy to keep Moscow's grip over Turkmen gas intact.

Energy, not an issue during Russia's short war with Georgia last August, was at the center of a row with Ukraine this January that led to the biggest disruption in decades to Russian gas supplies to Europe.

The document says Russia will seek to widen ties with developing powers such as Brazil, India, and China and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which groups China and Central Asian states.

The impact of the world economic crisis remains a major threat to national security, according to the document.

"The consequences of the world financial-economic crises could become comparable to the damage done by the large-scale use of military force," it said.

Russia will seek to become one of the world's top five economies in the medium term but its reliance on the export of oil, gas and natural resources is a perennial weakness which needs to be resolved, the document said.