Tag Archives: Georgia

Georgia War Threatened US Security

American military leaders are still reviewing the implication to our security of recent actions on the part of the government of Georgia. President Saakashvili took an enormous gamble when he deliberately provoked Russia by invading South Ossetia. The US military would have confronted a serious problem if Georgia was actually a member of NATO because Article 5 of the NATO treaty says “an armed attack against one or more of them(members).. shall be considered an attack against them all.” It is quite clear to any sane person, the American military was not ready, prepared or capable of undertaking a war in Georgia against a Russian army. Many NATO members place “caveats” on how their armed forces could be used in a war which most probably would have resulted in the case of Georgia of America being placed in the position of carrying the burden of fighting. War is not an enthusiastic idea in nations like Germany or France or Italy.

At the heart of the Georgia episode are many unanswered questions. Why did the Georgia leader expect the United States would support his ill timed adventure into war? Did he misinterpret what President Bush told him? Or, did Bush actually tell him something about American support for a war in South Ossetia? Most probably we will not know the answer to these questions unless a Democrat is elected president.

Sarkozy Tries To Calm Russia Over Georgia

President Sarkozy flew to Russia yesterday in an effort to save the cease fire in Georgia that he has tried to implement. As the European Union president for this time period, the French leader is attempting to persuade Russian leader Dimitry Medvedev to withdraw his troops and allow EU monitors to take over the task of implementing the cease fire. His goal will not receive a positive reaction from Russian leaders who already have indicated their disapproval of such a suggestion. Sarkozy emphasized to Russia, the EU is united in seeking peace in the region and wants “good neighborly relations” with Russia, but “the European Union also has its principles and convictions.”

A month ago Russia promised to begin withdrawing its forces from Georgia and insists its soldiers are the peacekeepers in the region. Missing from Sarkozy’s demands is any acknowledgment that Georgia created the entire incident by invading South Ossetia and bombing its people. Perhaps, if there was recognition of Russia’s legitimate right to have secure borders, the entire matter could swiftly be resolved. A first step would be ending the Bush plan for missile bases in Poland.

Who Is At Fault In Georgia War?

Serge Halimi, writing in Le Monde Diplomatique, notes in an ironic tone that Russia is being condemned by nations who have acted in unilateral ways but apparently become upset if other countries employ the same means of conflict resolution. He asks, if “somebody other than Saakashvili… had started a war, would western capitals and their media have been able to contain righteous indignation at such” an action? Halimi points out the West ignores behavior of Georgia in creating a way but will not tolerate Serbia from using similar tactics n Kosovo. “The moral of this story is even more enlightening when, to defend his country’s borders, the charming pro-American Saakashvili repatriates some of the 2,000 soldiers he had sent to invade Iraq.” The author sarcastically notes the solemn tone of George Bush who urges nations of the world to respect “sovereignty and independence and territorial integrity” by respecting the borders of other nations.

The reaction of the United States to the invasion of Georgia is simply a manifestation of an arrogance of power by the Bush administration which allows it to invade and conquer but is infuriated at the actions of other nations to engage in violence. In reality, argues Halimi, the real issue is a refusal on the part of the United States to recognize Russian rights to security of its borders. Georgia is a symptom of the desire by Bush to humiliate Russia and make it bend under to US demands.

Turkey And Russia Tense Over Georgia Issue

Turkey’s relations with Russia are going through a major crisis that was, most probably, initiated by recent events in Georgia and South Ossetia. Russian border police halted shipments from Turkey claiming there was inaccurate paper work, and the passage of US military ships through the Straits of Dardanelles has sparked controversy since Russia believes this permission violated the Montreux Convention on allowing military ships to be deployed in the Black Sea. However, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, made clear he did not believe Turkey in any way assisted the Georgian attack on South Ossetia. Russia does not expect Turkey to make a radical shift in its desire to become part of the European Union, but it does insist there be a neutral approach to issues in the Caucasus region.

Turkey is well aware it must maintain positive relations with Russia due to energy needs and to avoid creating turmoil in the region. It has not rushed to support the American position on the Georgia crisis and will avoid any contact with Georgia military forces. Watchful neutrality is the motto of Turkey.

Cheney Against Invasions Of Other Nations

Vice President Dick Cheney, on a visit to Georgia, spoke out against nations which use military force to intervene in the affairs of other nations. He described Russia’s invasion of Georgia as “an illegitimate, unilateral attempt” to change the country’s borders and expressed concern about Russia’s reliability as an international partner. The vice president assured President Saakashvili the United States would stand beside Georgia as a friend and ally “as you work to overcome an invasion of your sovereign territory and an illegitimate unilateral attempt to change your country’s borders by force that has been universally condemned by the free world.” However, there was no mention made as to whether the United States would re-equip the Georgian army.

Even as Cheney was expressing reassuring words to Georgia, Dimitry Gogozin, Russia”s fiery representative to NATO was warning the EU and the United States his nation would not stand by idly if Georgia was allowed to enter that organization. He insisted Russia had warned the UK it would take action if Georgia invaded South Ossetia, but British leaders denied ever receiving such information.

Dick Cheney’s comments may reverberate well to right wing Republicans who believe the Bush invasion of Iraq demonstrated that powerful nations had a right to invade other nations in order to reorganize the world, but most people in the Middle East see little difference between the vice president’s support for the American invasion of Iraq and Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia. In both cases force, rather than diplomacy, was employed.

Turkey Maintains Close Ties With Russia

Prime Minister Recp Erdogan made clear his nation was not going to be influenced by recent events in Georgia nor by American pleas for joining in a tough line approach to Russia. He told reporters Russia is the number one trade partner of Turkey and has risen to number one in tourism. He pointed out two thirds of Turkish gas and energy needs are being met by Russia. The Russian government has been delaying Turkish trucks for weeks and impairing trade relations between the two nations. Some observers believe the restrictions stem from Russian anger at the Turkish government decision to allow US ships to deploy into the Black Sea.

The ripple effects of the Georgia invasion of South Ossetia continue to echo through many nations in the region. Perhaps, it is time for all parties in the area to calm down, and discuss the events surrounding the conflict between Georgia and Russia, and explore alternative ways of resolving issues.

Era Of Spheres Of Influence Over, Says Sarkozy

President Sarkozy who currently heads the European Union told Russia, “we cannot go back to the age of spheres of influence. Yalta is dead.” His comment came in response to statements by President Medvedev of Russia who insists his nation now has the right to carve out a sphere of influence in areas that formerly belonged to the old Soviet Union. An emergency meeting of 27 EU leaders urged all nations to refuse accepting the incorporation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia into Russia. Sarkozy and a EU delegation will visit Moscow next week in an attempt to negotiate with Russian leaders concerning recent events with Georgia. “Relations between the EU and Russia have reached a crossroads,” said a summit statement. It went on to denounce Russia for failing to live up to cease fire agreements.

It is a time for reflection as well as action. Perhaps, the EU might reconsider its support of the Bush plan to build missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic. Perhaps, it is time for NATO to invite Russia to become a member. There is need to take concrete steps that recognize legitimate concerns of the Russian government. Sarkozy says “It takes two to tango,” but that also means both sides should be cognizant of fears and anxieties of the other.

Russia Remains Diplomatically Isolated On Georgia

The Russian government reached out for support from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization(SCO) in an effort to drum up nations which would sanction the Russian response to the Georgia invasion of South Ossetia. The SCO offered a modicum of support for Russian actions to promote “peace,” but their overall declaration was rather silent on completely backing the Russian action. China and former parts of the Soviet Union merely said: “The participants .. underscore the need for respect of the historical and cultural traditions of each country and each people,and for efforts aimed tat preserving the unity of the state and its territorial integrity.” The SCO urged avoiding only relying on violence as a means of resolving disputes. It urged Georgia and Russia to engage in meaningful dialogue to resolve their conflict.

Russia hardly obtained a ringing statement of support. China does not wish to offer support to breakaway areas like South Ossetia because it sets a dangerous precedent for dissident minorities in China seeking to obtain autonomy. The Chinese government would no doubt wish to support Russia, but to do so would send a message of people in Tibet and other areas of discontent that breaking away is a valid goal of those seeking autonomy.

Russia–America, A Failure To Communicate!

Vladmir Frolov, writing in the Moscow Times, task to task both the United States and Russia for failing to communicate with one another about Georgia which has resulted in worsening of relations between the two nations. “the failure of Moscow and Washington to communicate over the conflict in Georgia has led to a rhetorical race that now threatens to shatter the U.S. Russia relationship. Personal pique and spite have begun to cloud the leaders’ judgment.” Frolov says Moscow initially failed to convey to America its resolve not to allow Georgia to take over South Ossetia and President Medvedev should personally have called Bush to let him know in no uncertain terms that Georgia’s invasion would be repulsed. He also blames the US State Department for not making clear to Saakhasvili it was a mistake to launch an invasion of South Ossetia.

He blasts the stupid remark of Secretary of State Condi Rice comparing as equal the Russian occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968 with Russia’s response to an invasion by Georgia in 2008. Forlov praises Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, for acting calmly in the crisis and to point out that Saakhasvili was exaggerating the situation. Gates is most probably the only sane and rational person in the Bush administration.

Forlov says he has been told that President Medvedev sent a personal aide, Igor Yurgens to Washington last week in order to begin the process of restoring sanity to relations between the USA and Russia.

The situation could be different if Bush had called Medvedev to let him know the United States did no approve of Saakhasvili’s action.

Breakaway Regions Claim A “Kosovo.”

The Georgia breakaway region of Abkhazia is seeking recognition from the European Union for its decision to end relations with Georgia and become an independent state. Deputy Foreign Minister Maxim Gunjia emphasized: “we want the European Union to recognize our independence. This is a very positive moment for the EU.” In a sense, South Ossetia and Abhhazia have placed the European Union and the United States in a rather awkward situation since those bodies strongly supported the right of Kosovo to break away from Serbia and declare its independence. Gunjia pointed out to the European Union in no uncertain terms, “we use the same arguments as those used by the West with regard to Kosovo. There was no possible way to reconcile with Georgia. this is purely a continuation of the Kosovo precedent.”

Russia most probably would like to create disunion within the EU over this issue. For example, Slovakia was hesitant about recognizing Kosovo as independent and there may be nations within the EU which are torn between anger at Russian behavior and the right of people to be independent. Ironically, China has expressed displeasure at the prospect of the two regions becoming independent because of fears similar demands would be made by ethnic groups within China.

President George Bush has never been the swiftest thinking person in the world and most probably never recognized that by supporting Georgia he opened the door to the two regions declaring independence.