Finally back from Georgia
Comments and analysis on the current situation in the Caucasus
Now it’s up to the PR advisors on both sides to create a favourable spin to the report. I have no doubt that Georgians have a tough job ahead of them, mainly because the report, in stating that Georgia “started” the war, (although Russia spent months preparing for it and provoking it), gives the EU/NATO countries who has taken a stand against Georgian NATO membership an argument. A NATO membership is now definitely postponed in indefinite time. The report will surely also make it easier for EU to do "business as usual" with Putin. But can EU accept that Russia has occupied a sovereign country, violated international laws by ethnic cleansing, recognised two rebel republics, and not honoured the seizfire agreement negotiated by French President Nicholas Sarkozy/EU? Yes they can. This report will not change anything, because the EU policy towards Russia and Georgia has been established more than a year ago based on facts described in the report. The report doesn't bring new, potential policychanging evidence: Putin got his sphere of influence when he invaded Georgia in 2008.
I will try to sum up the last five months at the end of the year. This last months Russia has made a mockery of UN, OSCE, Europe Parliament, EU and NATO. By these actions Russia has shown itself as a totally irresponsible nation not ready to take part in constructive democratic international processes:
Violated the UN charter.
Vetoing every resolution from the UN Security Council.
By veto shut down OSCE’s mission in Georgia from 31.12.2008 in order to derail the Geneva talks and reduce possibility of international observation of atrocities in the rebel regions.
Declared the President of the European Parliament unwanted in Russia after having condemned the Russian invasion of Georgia.
Refused to honor the EU brokered a cease fire agreement with Russia by still occupying parts of Georgian proper, and keep a much larger amount of troops in the rebel republics than agreed upon in the cease fire agreement.
Allowing separatists to fire at EU / OSCE observers in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Performing large scale ethnic cleansing in cooperation with the criminal separatists in South Ossetia and Abkhazia even after the ceasefire agreement.
(Pending: High probability that Russia will veto the prolonging of the UN mission in Georgia - UNOMIG)
But not only Russia is to blame.
We do not expect constructive actions from Russia anymore. The country has under Czar Putin and his KGB become an antidemocratic sewer of nationalism, corruption and aggression leading the nation into a state of collective ignorance and pathological denial. Europe has shown its fundamental lack of principles and will to act on whatever is left of them. Russias destruction of Chechenya and Ingushetia has been accepted without ant significant protests, and in the case of the Russian assault on Georgia Germany has been the frontrunner for sabotaging any meaningful action towards Russia by setting its own business interests first and strongly oppose MAP for Georgia and sanctions against Russia (Germany is Russia’s largest trade partner in the west.). This is just a continuance of former Chancellor Schroeder’s (now a CEO in Gazprom) deal with Gazprom regarding a new energy pipeline from Russia to Germany: A reaffirmation of the Molotov Ribbentrop pact, as officials in Poland stated. Along these lines Norway is a loyal follower, preventing Georgia getting anywhere near a NATO MAP. From being a sharp critic of the Russian invasion, and calling for actions, Britain also changed its view on the matter. Gordon Brown just found out that it was more honor in handling the financial crisis. There he, as the grey economist he is, really could shine! Sarkozy and EU negotiated a seize fire agreement with Russia, but have let the Russians in from the cold without facing any real consequences from breaking the agreement on several points. This past six months has above all shown that Georgia is on its own. It seems the only hope for Georgia is a strategic partnership with the US, allegedly in progress.
Russia, a gigantic backyard
What goes on in Russias so called “backyard” is clearly up to Russia to decide. Ethnic cleansing is hereby approved by EU, NATO and UN. But the term backyard is an awkward one. Russia being a horrendous backyard in it self leaves not much recognition to Georgia, which unlike Russia has shown great progress in democracy, legal system and economy. In that perspective Russia looks more like Georgia’s backyard: It’s in Russia journalists are being killed, opposition arrested, KGB rules and no progress is being made in terms of modernization. Russia is in a reversed process with more power and money to the few selected, and where major human rights are violated on daily basis. Putin plans to increase spending on defense systems while most of Russia’s nuclear reactors in powerplants and ships/subs need to be replaced within 2014. Who’s going to clean up this mess? They surely haven’t done much about their scrapped nuclear submarines in Murmansk so far in spite of having received several millions from among others the Norwegian government. And with an economy soon in ruins and Putins promise of substantial spendings on new missiles, aircrafts and tanks it’s not likely Russia will end up as anything else but the worlds best defended radioactive scrap yard.
Saakshvili loosing confidence in Europe
Saakashvili has been loosing credibility in Europe because of his erratic behavior and statements. He is largely blamed for the war (something that is mostly related to the unacceptable low level of knowledge among journalists together with heavy propaganda and lobbying from the Russians, and the European fear of Putin) The erratic behavior of Putin has been tolerated. Putin has on a number of occasions threatened Europe with nuclear missiles, violated airspace, claimed the North Pole and simulated nuclear attacks on a number of occasions on Norway. He publicly threatened a journalist with castration, made jokes publicly about the Israelian presidents raping an employee, arrests any protesters and encourages nationalism leading to killings of foreigners. All this cheered by his well organized Nashi youth movement, largely inspired by Hitlerjugend. So who shows the most erratic behavior and is the most likely candidate to have started the war?
The rebel regions – fighting for a just cause?
There’s no heroic “battle for freedom” going on in the rebel republics. The systematic ethnic cleansing and shooting at international observers shows that the separatists just are simple war criminals under Russian protection, something that has been evident for many years. The separatist gain money and Russia military bases and influence.
What kind of dialog is EU referring to with this country?
So far what I have heard is a Russian monologue. Russia should be dealt with in order to avoid an even greater problem in the future. But with Europe focused on “business as usual” there is not much hope. We will have to wonder about who’s next in line for Russian “rescue operations” or European lack of principles. This is exactly the way Europe let Hitler grow into the monster he became. But there’s hope: The financial crisis also takes it tolls in Russia as the RTS index plummets, and show that they have lost close to 80% of its total stock value peaking in may 2008. An increasing number of demonstrations have occurred all over Russia the latest days, forcefully beaten down by special forces of course, but still a sign of rising unrest in the Czar’s empire. It doesn’t help much either, when the Nashi youths rallies in Moscow portraying the US as the big enemy carrying live pigs in the rallies “squeeling like Americans” as their leader proudly said on TV. Why then perform American rap and sing “happy Birthday, dear Putin” as the main event for the rallying youth crowd?
Because that’s Russia.