Guardian: Russia walking tall

Georgian conflict leaves west reeling and Russia walking tall
The Guardian, 12.08.2008

The Kremlin’s decision today to call a halt to its five-day assault on Georgia leaves Russia calling the shots in the energy-rich Black Sea littoral and Caspian basin. In the tussle for supremacy in a vital strategic region, the balance has tilted. Russia has successfully deployed its firepower in another country with impunity for the first time since communism’s collapse.

The quick and easy victory exposes the west’s lack of leverage over a resurgent Russia despite years of heavy American political investment in Georgia. “This is not the Russia of 93 or 94, a terribly weakened Russia,” said a European official. “The Russians are now negotiating from a position of strength.”

“We don’t look very good,” said a former Pentagon official long involved in Georgia. “We’ve been working on [Georgia] for four years and we’ve failed. Everyone’s guilty. But Putin is playing his cards brilliantly. He knows exactly what he’s doing and the consequences are all negative.”

“This was a proxy war, not about South Ossetia, but about Moscow drawing a red line for the west,” said Alexander Rahr, Russia expert at Germany’s Council on Foreign Relations and a biographer of Putin. “They marched into Georgia to challenge the west. And the west was powerless. We’re dealing with a new Russia.”

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  1. Is this the Russia we wanted? More important, is this the Russia that Russians themselves wanted?

    What will the jingoistic sentiment born by the war against Georgia do to the Russian society, ill as it is even now?

    When looking for an answer to the question, who benefits from the war — Qui prodest?, — one will find the instigator.

  2. Thinking of their support for Kosovan independence, Western leaders will do well to think: “As you sow so shall you reap.” This was in the cards on the day Kosovars celebrated their independence.

    The question is, why does the West regard Georgia’s borders as sacrosanct, but not those of Serbia? Explain this double standard to the inhabitants in destroyed Tskhinvali.

    Georgia has evidently committed gross human rights violations in South Ossetia, and the people in South Ossetia quite clearly do not wish to stay within Georgian jurisdiction.

    It is tragic –and cruel– that the only outside power to come to South Ossetia’s rescue is the present abominable regime in Moscow, soaked in blood of many other Caucasian nations.

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