Russia Pushes East As West Pressures Eastward

Putin Russia has been steadily extending its power and influence into areas that broke away from the old Soviet Union just as western powers are exerting pressure on the border of Russia with installation of missile bases. Tension between Russia and Georgia escalated as Russian military forces were deployed in Georgia’s breakaway republic of Abkhazia. There are reports local residents are being forced to swap their ID cards for Russian passports. Russia denied claims its troops were being sent into the Ochamchira region, which is mainly ethnically Georgian.

Georgia wants the expulsion of Russian peace-keeping troops which it believes are fostlering the breakaway republic to sever all ties with Georgia. The United States emphasized its support for Georgia and urged Russia to cease strethening its ties with separatist elements in Georgia.

The ironic aspect of this situation is the blatant attempt by Russia to encourage separatism while, at the same time, condemning the declaration of independence of Kosovo from Serbia on ground it reflected separatism.

A major problem is that Bush has lost all leverage with Russia because of his fight to install missile bases on the border of Russia. Any sensible foreign policy expert would have explained to the president that by pushing Russia and making threats, he was opening the door for Russia to retaliate with its own threats and power plays.