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Caucasus Crisis

Philip
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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Philip » 23 Oct 2008 11:55

This is about the Caucasus,but to digress for the first part of the thread,to understand what I'm saying,look at this UN report today in the Guardian.It is also what I've been warning about the growing massive inequality in India too,where Cartier and Breitling watches and Audis and Beemers are advertised in almost every weekly magazine,while farmers are still committing suicide ever day.The rise of Naxalism (Maoists) in India is in the main due to this social inequality in the rural areas of the least developed states of the nation.

It is a fact that there is amongst ex-Warsaw pact nations a nostalgia for the "good old days" of the Soviet Union,where the state guaranteed social security.Marx as Johann might've said be "dead" in Russia today,but he is very much alive at the moment in the capitalist capitals of Europe! In fact what has Gordon Brown done but massive Nationalisation of UK banks? The wheel has come full circle.The wealth of the people in majority of savings earlier has now been transferred to corporate savings instead,beggaring the public in the process.

The Indo-Soviet arms trade was beneficial to both sides.India used Soviet weaponry,identified its drawbacks and improved,upgraded models were then made by the Soviets for India and for export.Russia exported huge amounts of arms to Pact members and friends around the world.India benefited by acquiring large nuimbers of tough hardy equipment which proved invaluable on the battlefield,just two,the Osa class missile craft (Gorshkov quote-"your boys have taught us something new") and the PT-76 ,which were star performers in the Bangladesh War.In fact the upgraded MIG-21 Bisons proved themselves in IAF-USAF exercises earlier and ther Kilo class subs have surprised the USN many times by navies other than India too.AS mentioned,the MI-7/17 is perhaps the most rugged medium sized helo in the world,which is why India is buying several dozen more.We don't have to mention Brahmos and other online projects as well.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/oc ... ban-growth

Wealth gap creating a social time bomb• Race behind division in US cities, says UN report
Excerpts:
• Beijing is most egalitarian place in the worldJohn Vidal, environment editor The Guardian, Thursday October 23 2008

Growing inequality in US cities could lead to widespread social unrest and increased mortality, says a new United Nations report on the urban environment.

In a survey of 120 major cities New York was found to be the ninth most unequal in the world and Atlanta, New Orleans, Washington, and Miami had similar inequality levels to those of Nairobi, Kenya and Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Many were above an internationally recognised acceptable "alert" line used to warn governments.

"High levels of inequality can lead to negative social, economic and political consequences that have a destabilising effect on societies," said the report. "[They] create social and political fractures that can develop into social unrest and insecurity."

Here is another report on US lack of policy on Russia."Respect Russia",say many experts.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree ... russia-usa

White House hopefuls have no plan for Russia

The next US president should take a more constructive approach to challenges from the east, if only out of enlightened self-interest.

Simon Tisdall guardian.co.uk, Thursday October 16 2008 17.35 BST

Two months after the Georgia crisis, western policymakers are still scratching their heads over what to "do" about Russia. The Bush administration, in financial meltdown and heading for the exit, has little useful to say. White House hopefuls Barack Obama and John McCain both identify a reviving challenge from the east but give few clues to how they would deal with it.

In the first presidential debate Obama acted tough, warning that "a resurgent and very aggressive Russia is a threat to the peace and stability of the [Caucasus] region ... You cannot be a 21st-century superpower and act like a 20th-century dictatorship." McCain's rhetoric was similarly offensive. "Russia has now become a nation fuelled by petrodollars that is basically a KGB apparatchik-run government," he said.

European countries that rely on Russian energy but fear Moscow's authoritarian new nationalism are less acerbic but no less critical. Yet despite numerous policy reviews ordered after the South Ossetia-Abkhazia conflicts erupted, they also lack a coherent idea of how to proceed.

While all parties agree on the undesirability of a new cold war, the EU has again delayed a decision on resuming strategic partnership negotiations with Moscow. Yesterday, European-sponsored Russia-Georgia "peace" talks in Geneva were suspended almost before they got started. Next month's planned EU-Russia summit looks like being a very awkward affair.

American name-calling and European waffling have further antagonised Moscow, making matters worse. Possibly in reaction to this, influential Russia experts in Washington are now arguing with growing force that the stand-off cannot be allowed to deteriorate – and that the next US president and his allies must take a more constructive, less antagonistic approach, if only out of enlightened self-interest.

"The danger is the next administration, whoever is in charge, may be trapped in a confrontation with Russia, with Georgia at the top of the agenda, when many other issues, such as Iran, should be taking precedence," a US government intelligence analyst said.

"Bilateral relations are really bad, as bad as most people can remember. They won't improve until after the elections, and perhaps not then. Georgia is not necessarily over and we're worried about Ukraine. It's possible the Russians will come up with some kind of legal claim to Sevastopol [where Russia's Black Sea fleet leases a base]. Nato membership for Georgia and Ukraine is a red line for Russia but both Obama and McCain are pushing for it," the analyst said.

Joining the fray, two former US secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger and George Schultz, warned recently "this drift towards confrontation must be ended". They said the strategic framework adopted by George Bush and the then Russian president Vladimir Putin in Sochi in April this year was a basis for rebuilding ties based on mutual interest. Global non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, energy, climate change, and cooperation on ballistic missile defence were all pressing issues requiring enhanced cooperation.

Kissinger and Schultz also argued the problem should be kept in perspective. Russia was not as powerful, militarily, economically or demographically, as it might seem and Russian leaders knew this. "What they have sought, sometimes clumsily, is acceptance as equals in a new international system rather than as losers of a cold war to whom terms could be dictated."

Calls for a new start based on mutual respect have also come from six former US and Russian ambassadors, including Thomas Pickering and Yuri Dubinin, who issued a statement urging "joint work on global issues where our two nations have the responsibility to lead". In particular, they said, the two countries urgently needed to update their strategic and other arms controls agreements.

Analysts say significant damage inflicted on Russia's economy and businesses by the global financial crisis, and to a lesser degree by Georgia-related western disinvestment, may have sobered Putin and his protege-president, Dmitri Medvedev. The crisis has helped drive home the increasing interdependence of Russia and the west, whatever hostile postures politicians on either side may adopt from time to time.

It was no good Condoleezza Rice, the current US secretary of state, expecting Russia's help on Iran or North Korea while attacking it for safeguarding what it saw as legitimate regional interests, wrote Masha Lipman of the Carnegie Endowment's Moscow Centre in the Washington Post. Her successor needed to be more imaginative. "The current approach – seeking to punish aggressive, defiant Russia but working with Moscow in vital areas of common interest – is not sustainable." Lipman went on: "US anger is only making things worse. The risk of Russia slipping towards an isolationist course and a militarised economy is growing … The foundations of US policy towards Russia must be revised."

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 23 Oct 2008 14:57

U.S. Has No Intention to Punish Russia for August Crisis in Caucasus - Ambassador
Wednesday, October 22, 2008 7:15 PM

http://www.istockanalyst.com/article/vi ... 30472.html

"I am not sure the U.S. is in a position to punish a country like Russia," U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle told Interfax in an interview.

"I think when we look at what happened in the Caucasus in August and the events that led up to it we certainly see that there were miscalculations and mistakes on both sides," the ambassador said.

Philip
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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Philip » 23 Oct 2008 17:00

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/fina ... gary..html

Financial CrisisCrisis mounts in East Europe after shock 3pc rate rise by Hungary.

Hungary has raised interest rates by three percentage points to 11.5pc in a drastic move to stop the collapse of its currency peg against the euro, raising fears of a crunch across Eastern Europe as a string of states are forced to follow suit to stem capital flight.

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Last Updated: 5:55AM BST 23 Oct 2008

Hungary has raised interest rates to stop the collapse of its currency peg against the euro: a man cleans the window of a currency exchange in Budapest. Photo: Reuters
The fast-moving crisis echoes the final days of the Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992, when Britain, Italy, and Sweden raised rates to extreme levels to defend their currencies despite economic recession, with little success.

Hungary's premier Ferenc Gyurcsany said the county was left with no choice as the forint went into a free-fall. It has dropped 16pc against the euro since the start of the month and is now at the bottom of its ERM band. "There is still an exceptionally large speculative pressure on the forint. We will take every measure necessary," he said.

It is unclear whether the move will prove enough to prevent a forced devaluation. The treasury had to cancel a bond auction yesterday as buyers stayed away.

"We doubt the effect will be long-lasting," said Lars Christensen, East Europe strategist at Danske Bank. "The markets are very likely to test how far the central bank is willing to go."

Simon Derrick, from Bank of New York Mellon, said the rate rise was probably doomed to failure. "As soon as you see aggressive actions like this when the economy is not strong to take it, you know it is unsustainable," he said.

There is a risk is that hedge funds will pick off those East European states with big current account deficits that rely on foreign financing, smashing the pegs or 'dirty-floats' one by one. The deficits have reached 23pc of GDP in Bulgaria, 16pc in Estonia, and 16pc in Romania.

Investor flight from stocks, bonds, and currencies across the region has become a stampede. Contagion hit Turkey and South Africa yesterday, while credit default swaps on Russian debt jumped to 817 basis points, signalling extreme fear.

Hungary has already received a €5bn loan from the European Central Bank and is in talks with the International Monetary Fund. Ukraine has requested an IMF bail-out, and Belarus joined the queue yesterday with a plea for a $2bn loan.

Maya Bhandiri, from Lombard Street Research, said Hungary was primed for crisis after letting rip on foreign credit, letting net external debt reach 90pc of GDP.

Some 60pc of all mortgages and car loans are funded in foreign currencies, mostly euros or Swiss francs. Hungary's government is now letting debtors switch franc loans into forints and even forgive debts in what amounts to a bail-out of the most reckless. Unicredit warned that this may cause markets to question the credit-worthiness of the state itself.

The Baltic States, Poland, Croatia, and Romania have also let foreign mortgages proliferate. Mr Christensen says the region is even more overstretched than East Asia on the cusp of the 1998 crisis. "Imbalances have grown to unsustainable levels. The unwinding is likely to be painful and disorderly. There is a clear risk of the situation getting out of hand, with serious implications for Western Europe," he said.

Veterans of the ERM crisis in 1992 say the process could spiral out of control quickly. If hedge funds taste blood knocking out the pegs in Eastern Europe, they may turn their attention to those eurozone states inside that have rely on foreign funding to plug their huge deficits - notably Spain, Portugal, and Greece.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Johann » 23 Oct 2008 21:25

abhischekcc wrote:India may have got cheap weapons from USSR, but we never had any Soviet base on our soil


That is precisely my point. The Soviets got far less from India than they did from most other states for the amount of military subsidies they poured in.

both our foreign and economic policies were sufficiently free of Soviet influences.


India pursued its own interests, as did most recipients Soviet aid, but the influence on Indian policy was still very significant in terms of *how* those interests were pursued.

There is a strong correlation between the strength of Indo-Soviet ties, and the degree to which the GoI pursued statist and autarkic policies. It is no accident that Rajiv Gandhi's first attempts at liberalisation coincided with Perestroika in the USSR, while India's commitment to embrace of the free market, and the tremendous economic growth that followed came only after the Soviet collapse. The more the Soviets were praised as friends of India, the more Soviet aid was available, the greater the Marxist influence in economic policy, and the easier it was to pursue anti-export and anti-competitive economic policies.

Most importantly, we were never behind the invasion of Afghanistan. We bought the Mirage 2000 becasue the Soviets were dragging their feet.


I wouldnt say 'never' - the Indian rep at the UN in 1980, B.C. Mishra claimed that the Soviets had intervened at the invitation of the Afghan government, overlooking the fact that the Soviets executed the head of the DRA government. Indira Gandhi also publicly claimed that the Soviets were initially welcomed in Afghanistan, which was even harder to demonstrate than claiming that the Americans were welcomed in to Baghdad. India along with Syria (also heavily dependent on Soviet military aid) was perhaps the only non-communist country in the world to take such a position. The GoI at that point did not believe it could afford to piss off the Soviets at that point.

As far as Afghanistan goes, the invasion of Afghanistan was a negative turning point in the Soviet Union's relationship with much of the 'third world'. Indira Gandhi clearly recognised how excessive dependence on the Soviets had limited Indian options and isolated it. She began to broaden India's ties with the West, particularly with European states, in order to gain greater space, and pressed the Soviets in private to withdraw.

The Soviets as you say, dragged their feet on some sales - this was what the Soviets tended to do whenever they felt aid recipients werent doing enough to earn their keep. That did not help them much.

The Indo-Soviet relationship improved after Gorbachev came to power - by 1986 the Soviets had decided to withdraw from Afghanistan, and by 1988 Gorbachev was winding down the cold war on all fronts in order to reduce military spending and save the Soviet economy. In that environment there were far fewer Soviet pressures on Indian foreign policy.

I mean, why blame us for benefiting if they were willing to empty their own pockets? :D


Oh, I dont blame India for taking advantage of the Soviets at all, although as IG saw, there were costs as well.

Russian resentment was not against India, but agaisnt the Politburo and the VPK (military industrial commission) that was behind that kind of irrational cost-benefit calculations at times of great hardship at home

The only point I'm making is that even by the late 1980s there was widespread recognition in Moscow that Soviet generosity coupled with ignorance of true cost and low economic growth had bankrupted them, and that in the post-Soviet era they began to operate on a *very* different basis.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Johann » 23 Oct 2008 22:49

Rye wrote:
Suppiah wrote:Russia of Putin is a horrible case of crony - capitalism that jails, exiles and poisons anyone daring to expose them


Are you sure about that? Putin took down the pro-west-crony capitalists who got rich off Yeltsin's garage sale of O&G assets to the Berezofskys and took state control of the industries, which rankled the UK, which is why the western press has nothing good to say about Putin.


Rye, I think its fairer to say that Putin has done very little to improve the rule of law from the situation under Yeltsin.

You can ask anyone, from any country who does business in Russia what the environment is like. Transparency International's ranking for Russia in 2000 (before Yukos was taken over or Berezovsky were run out) was near the bottom, at 2.1. TI today gives Russia exactly the same grade, the same as Bangladesh, Kenya and Syria. There is simply very little rule of law when it comes to the way the Russian state interacts with business.

There are just as many billionaires in the Russian government as in the Yeltsin era, the only difference is that they dont dare challenge the power at the top. The oligarchs work for the security service bosses instead of the other way around - in fact some of the security bosses are now billionaires.

The figures from Reporters Sans Frontiers and the Committee to Protect Journalists make it clear that Russia is one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists outside Iraq/Afghanistan/Somalia. Out of the 25 journalists known to have been murdered in cold blood, 14 of them have been in the last 8 years. What makes it worse is that the Russian authorities never seem to be able to solve these murders, and convictions never happen. Now this is not to say that the Kremlin has orchestrated all of these murders. Its just that anyone in a position of power in business, government or organised crime who is threatened by revelations in the media can eliminate his problem, and can wield enough influence to block any due process.

When you combine this with the way that papers and stations that dare to criticise the Kremlin since 2000 lose their licenses and are forced in to sale to government controlled entities like Gazprom, its pretty clear what the extent of press freedoms in Russia are today. Even Musharraf couldnt succeed in shutting up the press in Pakistan.
Last edited by Johann on 23 Oct 2008 23:04, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Rye » 23 Oct 2008 23:04

Johann wrote:
Out of the 25 journalists known to have been murdered in cold blood, 14 of them have been in the last 8 years. What makes it worse is that the Russian authorities never seem to be able to solve these murders, and convictions never happen. When you combine this with the way that papers and stations that dare to criticise the Kremlin since 2000 lose their licenses and are forced in to sale to government controlled entities like Gazprom, its pretty clear that the extent of press freedoms. Even Musharraf couldnt succeed in shutting up the press in Pakistan.


J., But the Chinese have also managed exactly that, so how come the lack of press freedom in China is rarely ever decried at the same level as Russia? China has shown that its restriction of Press freedoms is even more severe than Russia, as we saw during the olympics. That does not mean they are right in restricting freedom of the press, but that Putin is hardly alone in restricting press freedoms.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby satya » 23 Oct 2008 23:23

But the Chinese have also managed exactly that, so how come the lack of press freedom in China is rarely ever decried at the same level as Russia?


China doesnt supply the natural gas to 1/3rd ( a rough estimate ) of Europe .

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Johann » 23 Oct 2008 23:26

Satya,

Actually Russia's energy supply makes some European countries like Italy and Germany go much easier on Russia than they would have otherwise.

Rye,

Of course the PRC lacks a free press. However your chances of getting killed as a journalist in China are pretty slim, as are your chances of ending up in jail. Its all the unsolved, untried murders of journalists that get journalists elsewhere upset.

In any case, I dont see the PRC's system as viable in the long term either. Shutting down public discourse contains political, economic, social and security problems, but it does not solve them. Silencing the press means that course correction from failed policies takes much longer, and the result is sudden, massive systemic shocks, and explosions of pent-up public anger.

Putin has increased political stability in Russia, and the massive increases in revenues from resource exports has along with that political stability created a window to put Russia on a controlled path to economic and political reform, in the way that South Korea, Taiwan, Spain and Brazil for example transitioned from statist, cronyist dictatorships to stable, prosperous democracies.

I see Putin as a man with a split personality in conflict with itself - on the one hand he wants to make that transition (eg his choice of Medvedev), but on the other he retains his Soviet era instincts - centralise all economic control through gigantic state corporations, silence criticism of the Kremlin by any means, make sure economic rewards go only to Kremlin loyalists, build a personlity cult, make sure your neighbours fear you, etc that directly inhibit change.

The generation after Putin has no nostalgia for Soviet times, and is free of those ingrained reflexes, but Russia cant wait that long. The oil and gas revenues are running out sooner rather than later, and unless Russia has a *productive* economy based that can offer the market something more than resource extraction, a resilient, responsive political system and healthy civil society, it is in for big trouble, just as the Soviet Union was.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Suppiah » 24 Oct 2008 09:35

Oil era might come to an end sooner than we expect. Already prices are low enough to give jitters to thugs and barbarians. Everyone and their cousin is announcing huge reserves - Brazil was one and now Cuba joins them. They will all start exporting in huge numbers soon (5yrs time frame) by which time we will have $1 per watt solar panels.

A productive non-oil economy requires close cooperation with the Europeans at the very least and definitely with the Americans because Russia cannot replicate what China did -produce Barbie dolls and socks by the zillions. I think it is too late for Putin to change stripes so Russia will sooner or later ditch him and hitch their wagons to the gang they naturally belong - west. I only hope he goes without throwing the entire country into great amount of chaos and possible communist coups.

As to journo's getting killed,there are reports practically on monthly basis, just google for them. There was one just about a week ago too. A lady journo got bumped off with poison. Our friendly arms suppliers are still living in the Czar/Rasputin era, choosing poisons as weapons of choice.

Comparison with China or North Korea are ridiculous because everyone expects commie regimes to be of the Putin sort.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby shyam » 24 Oct 2008 10:11

Suppiah wrote:hitch their wagons to the gang they naturally belong - west.

Just curious, in your opinion, what are the other gangs?

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Suppiah » 24 Oct 2008 15:41

shyam wrote:
Suppiah wrote:hitch their wagons to the gang they naturally belong - west.

Just curious, in your opinion, what are the other gangs?


In the long run we will be a gang leader with gang of our own. So will PRC. In the short term and perhaps medium term Uncle is the only gang in town and rest are pretenders / challengers to status quo. That their challenge is failing is clear from the number of states (not to speak of the type of states :oops: ) that they are able to assemble in their quarter.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Johann » 24 Oct 2008 21:17

Suppiah,

Any number of very senior retired figures from places as diverse as Iran, Saudi, Brazil, etc have said in public that most OPEC and non-OPEC exporters massively inflate the size of their proved and unproved reserves. Within OPEC production quotas are linked to the size reserves - so you can see why governments keen to maximise revenue exaggerate to they extent that they do.

Publicly traded oil companies from non-OPEC states have to allow their fields to be inspected to boost investor confidence, but they too tend to massively overestimate unproved reserves in order to keep stock prices high. The recent megafield announced by Brazil's Petrobras is looked at by the market with considerable skepticism. The earlier announced megafields are more credible, but they are at a depth that no one has extracted oil from before. These super-deep offshore oil wells are going to be *very* expensive to develop and operate, and will take a decade plus to fully come online even in the best circumstances.

Oil and gas exporters have the choice of either recession which delays the day the stuff runs out, or rapid economic growth which while producing record short term profits brings that day much closer, and encourages diversification of energy sources away from oil and gas. The governments of Iran, Russia and Saudi Arabia are all aware of this reality.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A viable Russian economic strategy would not be based on replicating China, but rather more like a combination of India and South Korea. Using its educated population to compete in services, as well as using its scientific and industrial base to compete across the entire manufactured spectrum on a combination of quality and technology combined with cost. To grow its agro-businesses and food processing, and also make them globally competitive. To encourage small and medium businesses all across Russia.

All of these are things Medvedev, Kudrin, and other reformist modernisers would like to do. The problem is not just Putin, but his entire generation, and the older generations. They simply are not comfortable with the idea of fair competition, either economic or political within Russia, and that makes them uncompetitive on the global scale, except in very few areas which the old Soviet Union competed on the global scale (e.g. arms). They want a system run entirely on patronage, backed by arbitrary force and unconstrained by law. They retain the Marxist view that competition means the rule of the jungle, which is why so many political and economic conflicts within Russia are and were settled without regard of the law - either with guns if neither side has authority over the other, or if the state is involved, through executive decree.

In the late 1990s the Russian government was dominated by the oligarchs collaborating with each other against everyone else, while competing with each other for the biggest slice of the pie. Yeltsin acted as the balancer between them. In the 2000s under Putin the oligarchs were displaced by the security bosses, the siloviki who do the same thing, while Putin acts as the balancer.

One of the reasons Putin has stayed on as PM is not just simple hunger for power - the competition between different factions of the siloviki for power was always high stakes, and became self destructive after Putin said he was going to step down - you had rival security agencies like the FSKN and FSB arresting each others bosses. Chosing Medvedev sidestepped these conflicts among the Siloviki, but Medvedev lacked Putin's stature to control them - they would have simply run over him, and started on each other again.

Fundamentally the Russian political system has to get to the point where all players accept the rule of law, and basic democratic principles in their competition with each other. As long as its nothing but a bunch of wolves (whether oligarchs or KGB goons) snarling and consuming each other, comprehensive modernisation that most Russians want will remain out of reach

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby prabir » 24 Oct 2008 23:01

Political system depends on the kind of society that Russia is. Whatever said, the security people are patriots and not western implants that had flourished during Yeltsin era. If only if, India had money during those days, we could have acquired very good equity in some of the industries with dual-use in 1991-95 period.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Suppiah » 25 Oct 2008 00:27

How serious Medvedev can be taken will be known when Putin becomes 'eligible' to be President again. If he fades away then Medvedev is his own man. Else he is just a seat warmer. I dont wish Russia ill but I doubt if they will go through this Putin era and come out unscathed. If what's going on in Russia is patriotism, then Russia and every other country should have a lot more traitors.

Inflating of oil reserves by some is one thing, nations importing oil suddenly becoming net (huge) exporters is altogether a different matter. The fact that they stop importing in of itself is a game changer. Again we are in the realm of predictions and future but me thinks by the time the world gets over this crisis and wakes up to a new dawn it will be one where oil plays much much less role than it does now.

People write off UK as a has-been and a third rate power. Ignoring the Soviet past, I am having hard time figuring out in what way Russia is different from, say, Canada, and why it should have any more influence than that nation, once we take oil/gas out of the equation.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby prabir » 25 Oct 2008 03:00

It should have more respect than Canada even if you take oil and gas out of equation because of

-- The quality of their education
-- Scientific prowess - they reinvented the wheel in areas where they wanted to be counted inspite of sanctions from the West.
-- Culture
-- Family values

I think, you are trying to equate Russia to Venezuela, Saudi Arabia etc. That is not fair.....

And by the way, how different is Cheney then ? that too becoming VP in a so called "civilized" society ?

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 25 Oct 2008 10:28

that too becoming VP in a so called "civilized" society ?


Who says US is a civilized society / nation? A country with mere ~275 years of history, can't claim to have any civilization as compared to other eastern societies....which have more than 100+ years of history.. US has "Jungle Raaj", no civilization or civilized society.

People who compare Russia to KSA, Venezuela or Canada should understand that even the US and west is in awe of what Russians achieved in the areas of science and technology. The only nation that US reapects is Russia.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Suppiah » 25 Oct 2008 18:00

prabir wrote:

I think, you are trying to equate Russia to Venezuela, Saudi Arabia etc. That is not fair.....

And by the way, how different is Cheney then ? that too becoming VP in a so called "civilized" society ?


My comments re Canada/Russia should be seen in perspective - it is just that ex-SU played a role that was far higher than warranted by the strength of its economy and its technological and industrial prowess. Russia is slowly discovering reality. Same goes for UK/France though thanks to democracy they have handled that part a lot better.

Not equating Russia with anything it is all about Putin & co. As I mentioned, Russia is a nation who I wish well. Again the issue with Venezuela is with Chavez, otherwise you read about them only when someone wins Miss World title. Case of Saudi is bit different. I think Saudi, along with TSP is at the situation where Germany was before WWII where bulk of populace was behind an ideology seen as dangerous by others. Complete destruction, purge and renewal was the answer for Germany, and it is for these two. Democracy will not make a difference to these because the populace has to experience first hand the kind of total defeat and destruction their current state of mind and ideology can bring. Sorry for diverting too far...

Re. Cheney, US has found a way to fix it, if polls are correct. In any case as I have posted elsewhere, Cheney types are history because US is now firmly with oil consuming side, earlier they were playing both sides because their oil companies were controlling world oil flow as well as reserves. Now it is no longer the case. If that is not enough the green consciousness will make them dinosaurs.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby prabir » 25 Oct 2008 20:13

Re. Cheney, US has found a way to fix it, if polls are correct. In any case as I have posted elsewhere, Cheney types are history because US is now firmly with oil consuming side, earlier they were playing both sides because their oil companies were controlling world oil flow as well as reserves. Now it is no longer the case. If that is not enough the green consciousness will make them dinosaurs.
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Yes, this makes sense

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Johann » 25 Oct 2008 22:39

Even if Russia stopped being (a) the largest energy exporter in the world, and (b) one of the two nuclear superpowers, even if we ignore the potential of its highly educated, but poorly led population it would still stretch from Europe, to the Arctic, to the nothern middle east (Caucasus and Caspian), to Central Asia, to the Far East. That means involvement in the geopolitics of all these areas. In addition you have the connection to Orthodox communities around the world, the Russian diaspora and Russophones, and lingering Soviet-era relationships.

Whether or not Russia lives up to its potential and serves its population well, whether or not Russia is a net positive or a net negative to its neighbours, Russia's geography and population alone would mean that its fate will affect the wider world a great deal more than Canada's.

When you add the other stuff, it becomes absolutely vital to the whole world that Russia make the transition to a stable, prosperous and democratic state

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Suppiah » 26 Oct 2008 04:48

Johann wrote:When you add the other stuff, it becomes absolutely vital to the whole world that Russia make the transition to a stable, prosperous and democratic state


I do agree on this. One thing Canada has going for it is secure borders and friendly neighbour(s). And it has immigrants that add strength to its economy and importance and not take it away.

You can't say the same for Russia as they are blessed with PRC and some barbaric states as neighbours. I do wish them all strength to beat off Chinese attempts to conquer territory by stealth and add its strength to the war against Islamic sponsored terrorism which is vital for India. Under Putin it can only flirt with the terrorists and thugs in a foolish and self-defeating attempt to show the middle finger to Uncle.

Let us wish that they get quickly back to where they belong.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 26 Oct 2008 10:11

Russian Bear Rising
by Mark Silverberg

The American response to the Russian invasion of South Ossetia and Abkhazia was all rhetoric in large measure because the U.S. was already over-extended in Iraq and Afghanistan and had neither the power, the strategic necessity nor the political capital to take on the Russians over Georgia – and the Russians knew it.


http://www.intellectualconservative.com ... ar-rising/

There are two critical lessons to be learned from the recent Russian-Georgian war. First, Western security commitments should not to be made unless they can be enforced; and second, autonomous ethnic regions within tiny nations that border powerful states carry the potential for future conflicts.

The Russian-Georgian war was the by-product of a poorly thought out American foreign policy in the Caucasus because the US attempted to gain influence against Russia without providing sufficient American power to sustain that policy when challenged by Russia. This does not excuse the brutal application of Russian power against a tiny neighboring state, but it goes a long way in explaining why America responded as it did, and why American foreign policy in the Caucasus has proven to be without substance.

During the war, President Bush proclaimed America's "unwavering support" for the former Soviet republic of Georgia. For the U.S., however, it was just another hollow gesture that reinforced an unfortunate pattern of American hubris. Bush lauded the Rose Revolution that swept Mikheil Saakashvili to power, backed Georgia's bid to enter NATO, and traveled to Tbilisi in 2005 to give his "pledge to the Georgian people that you've got a solid friend in America." In response, the Georgians aligned themselves with the U.S., sent 2,000 troops to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan beside American forces, and even named a main road in Tbilisi after Bush. At the White House last March, Saakashvili expressed his gratitude to the President for having "really put Georgia firmly on the world's freedom map."

Nevertheless, when push came to shove, the American response to the Russian invasion of South Ossetia and Abkhazia was all rhetoric in large measure because the U.S. was already over-extended in Iraq and Afghanistan and had neither the power, the strategic necessity nor the political capital to take on the Russians over Georgia – and the Russians knew it. The weak U.S. response to the Russian invasion has not only diminished U.S. standing in the region, but arguably as a world power as well. As a friend and ally, Georgia was abandoned to the mercies of the Russian war machine and the other former Soviet republics have no doubt taken note of this.

In many ways, the war was inevitable. Post-World War II Western strategy toward the Soviet Union and its satellites was shaped by George Kennan's 1947 Cold War doctrine of "containment." For decades, the U.S. alliances that encircled the Soviet bloc sent a clear message to Stalin and his successors: "Not one more inch!" With the fall of the Soviet Union, that policy was extended under the Clinton and Bush administrations to the former Soviet republics but was propelled by the idea of promoting democratic change and stability in the newly-freed countries that border Russia. While the Russians continually questioned Western motives for this expansion, there was little they could do about it. Over the last few years, however, a newly empowered and resurgent oligarchy under Russian nationalist Prime Minister Vladimir Putin began to see these American overtures as an existential threat and now, forty-six years after JFK threatened war with the former Soviet Union over Soviet missiles in Cuba – the roles have suddenly reversed.

George Friedman writing in Stratfor suggests that America overplayed its hand by actively courting former Soviet republics and seeking to place U.S. missile defense systems in some of them, thereby convincing the Russians that their interests and national security were being threatened:

As Russia regained its balance from the chaos of the 1990s, it began to see the American and European presence in a less benign light. It was not clear to the Russians that the United States was trying to stabilize the region. Rather, it appeared to the Russians that the United States was trying to take advantage of Russian weakness to impose a new politico-military reality in which Russia was to be surrounded with nations controlled by the United States and its military system, NATO. In spite of the promise made by Bill Clinton that NATO would not expand into the former Soviet Union, the three Baltic states were admitted. The promise was not addressed. NATO was expanded because it could and Russia could do nothing about it . . . From the Russian point of view, the strategic break point was Ukraine. When the Orange Revolution came to Ukraine, the American and European impression was that this was a spontaneous democratic uprising. The Russian perception was that it was a well-financed CIA operation to foment an anti-Russian and pro-American uprising in Ukraine. When the United States quickly began discussing the inclusion of Ukraine in NATO, the Russians came to the conclusion that the United States intended to surround and crush the Russian Federation. In their view, if NATO expanded into Ukraine, the Western military alliance would place Russia in a strategically untenable position. Russia would be indefensible. The American response was that it had no intention of threatening Russia. The Russians (retorted): Then why are you trying to take control of Ukraine? What other purpose would you have? The United States dismissed these Russian concerns as absurd. The Russians, not regarding them as absurd at all, began (their) planning (based) on the assumption of a hostile United States.


Georgia presented Russia with the perfect opportunity to re-assert its political influence. When the 58th Russian Army of the North Caucasus Military District rolled into South Ossetia and Abkhazia and effectively annexed 18% of Georgia, Russia saw it as payback for years of geo-political irrelevance, for its loss of global influence and empire, and as a response to Western condemnations of Russian transgressions at home and abroad. The invasion restored a sense of Russian pride and power, although it was cloaked as a sort of humanitarian intervention on behalf of the beleaguered Ossetians. In fact, Putin had already decided to make an example of Georgia which had been a constant irritant to Russia over Chechnya and was perceived as a pro-American, Western-oriented government on its border and a barrier to Russian interests in the Caucasus. The war has now placed Georgia firmly within Russia's sphere of influence and there is little that the U.S. can do to alter the facts on the ground.

Nor will Europe intervene. Western European states have come to enjoy the richest, longest stretch of peace in their history and are loathe for that to end. While Europe may bluster over Russian aggression, it neither can nor will do anything of substance that would jeopardize 30% of its oil and more than 40% of its natural gas imports from its Russian supplier.

While U.S. entanglements in Iraq and Afghanistan have hindered U.S. power in the Caucasus, the Kremlin's military success in Chechnya combined with soaring oil prices have provided Russia with a tremendous economic and political advantage. With a GDP of $1.2 trillion and money from oil and gas revenues pouring into its treasury and trade with China reaching $48 billion in 2007 and expected to reach $80 billion by 2010, the Russian military is now prepared to flex its muscle by punishing the Georgians for attacking separatist South Ossetia, for seeking membership in NATO, and for forgetting in whose "backyard" Georgia sits.

Although Putin has no ideological interest in rekindling a new Cold War through occupation (which would be much too costly and exceptionally difficult), he certainly intends to re-establish Russia's sphere of influence in the former Soviet republics to counteract what he sees as deliberate American provocations in his "neighborhood." At the very least, the Georgian invasion was meant to serve as a warning to Poland and the Czech Republic who are toying with the idea of deploying U.S. ground-based interceptor (GBI) anti-ballistic and Patriot PAC-3 missiles in their countries.

By humiliating Georgian President Saakashvili and forcing him to accept ceasefire terms that leave open the possibility of Russian control over portions of his country, Russia has sent a message that it will no longer tolerate hostile regimes in bordering states nor permit its economic or military hegemony in the region to be challenged. It has also demonstrated its indifference to Western opinion by showing its willingness to use force to prevent any more former Soviet republics from joining NATO. Putin realizes that Russia's influence over Tehran, its veto in the U.N. Security Council, its nuclear weapons, the U.S. need for Russian "cooperation" in Afghanistan and Iran, Europe's need for a secure energy provider, Russian control over vast oil and natural gas reserves and its willingness to use its military power in support of its strategic objectives, have given it enormous power and influence not experienced since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Moreover, the Kremlin's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, and its threat to do the same in the autonomous regions of Transdniestria (Moldova), Crimea and the Donetsk Basin (Ukraine) and the Central Asian republics of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan suggest its intention to lay claim to the title of "protector" of Russian minority enclaves in these countries unless they begin towing the Russian line. With twenty-five million ethnic Russians in the fourteen former Soviet republics, Russian intimidation is a real and ever-present threat to the sovereignty of these states.

Nor will the aftershocks of the invasion be limited to Eastern Europe. They will reverberate throughout the Middle East as Russia will now actively seek to undermine American interests in that region by arming Syria and Iran. On August 30, Russia announced that it would assist Iran in completing its Bushehr plutonium reactor by the end of 2008 after holding back for five years at Washington's request. It also stated its intention to supply Iran with its most sophisticated S-300 air defense system. The current American effort for a U.S.-Russian summit to discuss future relations between the two powers will no doubt secretly re-establish an "understanding" of mutual spheres of influence if only to keep Russian missiles and nuclear technology out of the Middle East (not to mention Venezuela). That is because the West has neither the ability nor the willingness to use force to defend these new democracies and has more immediate and pressing concerns that can only be resolved with Russian assistance.

For the former Russian republics, it means that their independence will now be over-shadowed by Russian overseers and they had best recognize the new reality and adjust their foreign policies accordingly or suffer the same fate as Georgia. Putin has already turned the clock back on democracy at home and dislikes it in neighboring countries. It might be infectious. During the Cold War, the West was unwilling to defend Finland, so Finland had to make its foreign policy subservient to Soviet interests. Georgia, Ukraine, Poland, the Czech Republic, the Central Asian Republics and the other former Soviet republics now find themselves facing a similar dilemma.

As if Western pre-occupation with the threat of non-state Islamic extremism was not enough, the Russian-Georgian war suggests that the days of detente and a bi-polar world have returned – a world that recognized the reality of brute force and trade-offs over noble ideals. Niccolo Machiavelli's advice in The Prince that "it is much safer to be feared than loved" has become the dictum of the new Russia. While the West may move to dissolve the G-8, block Russian entry to the World Trade Organization, possibly suspend its participation in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and issue statements of support for the Saakashvili government, it cannot change this new reality.

The U.S. must now re-evaluate its options and deal with the world not as it wishes it to be, but as it is. Like it or not, the era of moral clarity ushered in by the Reagan administration and carried forward by the current Bush administration has come to an end.

Foreign Affairs: Europe


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mark Silverberg is a foreign policy analyst with the Ariel Center for Policy Research in Israel and a member of Hadassah's National Academic Advisory Board. His book: "The Quartermasters of Terror: Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Jihad" was published by Wyndham Hall Press (2005) and his archives can be found at his website: http://www.marksilverberg.com.
jfednepa@epix.net
http://www.marksilverberg.com

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby prabir » 26 Oct 2008 22:24

Analysis tailored to create a foundation for renewed rivalry. No where, it mentions why this happened and why not the west can begin to take Russian concerns into account.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Gerard » 29 Oct 2008 04:11


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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Philip » 29 Oct 2008 13:11

Finally the truth is outing,that of Georgia's war crimes committed against S.Ossetia,which sparked off the massive Russian rout of Georgian forces.While "Shakywilly"continues his bufoonery on telly,denying everything absurdum,"they were our people (Ossetians),why should we have harmed them?" That Ossetian paramilitaries exacted revenge is no secret either.

Meanwhile,Russia keeps up the pressure upon Ukraine so that it holds onto the key Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol.
http://jamestown.org/edm/article.php?article_id=2373472

MOSCOW SEEKS MORE EXCUSES FOR PROLONGING NAVAL PRESENCE IN SEVASTOPOL

By Vladimir Socor

Thursday, October 23, 2008

For the first time since the Soviet era, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet undertook an offensive operation in August of this year when it attacked Georgia, landing Russian ground forces in Abkhazia. The Russian Fleet, mainly based in Sevastopol, misused Ukraine’s territory and abused Ukraine’s neutrality in launching that operation. It did so with impunity, underscoring the deficit of usable power, political leadership, and international rule of law in the Black Sea region.

The Russian Fleet now plans to use the prized Ochamchire base on the Abkhaz coast, which is legally sovereign Georgian territory (Vremya Novostei, October 21; see EDM, October 22). The Turkish-Russian naval condominium, which exists de facto in the Black Sea, did not inhibit the Russian fleet from attacking Georgia.

In late September and the first half of October, ships of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet joined flag-showing exercises by the Russian Navy in the Mediterranean Sea and visits to Soviet-era base locations there. While the fleet’s overall combat value is very low at present, Russia’s leaders think 10 years ahead in terms of ship-building plans, premised on oil and gas revenues, for uncontested naval supremacy over neighboring countries and a possible renewed presence in the Mediterranean.

The Black Sea Fleet, moreover, seems potentially usable in the Crimea much as the Russian ground troops proved usable in Abkhazia and Transnistria, where their presence helped carve out a zone of Russian control. The Crimea has not become a “hot spot” (conflict zone), as Ukrainian officials such as State Security Service acting chairman Valentyn Nalyvaichenko correctly point out (Izvestia, October 22). But Moscow holds enough cards to hint at a potential conflict, for political leverage over Kyiv’s decisions on the Russian fleet and Kyiv-NATO relations.

In their cumulative effect, these recent developments have clearly enhanced the Black Sea Fleet’s value in the eyes of Russia’s leadership, lending an added impetus to plans for retention of the Sevastopol base in the future.

On October 22 Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov announced that Russia would request Ukraine to prolong the stationing of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol beyond 2017, when the basing agreement is due to expire. Lavrov said that Russia would not make its proposal to Ukraine any time soon but “at some later stage, closer to 2017” (Interfax, October 22).

Such timing, however, would leave almost no room for Russian compliance with the deadline, in the event that Ukraine turns down Moscow’s proposal. The Fleet’s physical relocation from Sevastopol to Russian territory would be a multi-year process and could be dragged out longer than necessary by Russia. Starting the discussions with Ukraine “closer to 2017” would, therefore, ensure the prolongation of the Russian fleet’s presence in Ukraine beyond the deadline, de facto if not de jure.

The basing agreement, signed in 1997 and valid for a 20-year period, can be prolonged automatically unless either side terminates it with one-year advance notice. This procedure puts the onus on the Ukrainian authorities. Moscow probably hopes that a divided Ukrainian government and body politic may not be able to reach, sustain, and enforce a decision to terminate the basing agreement.

Moscow is already laying out the strategy for retaining its naval presence on Ukraine’s territory in the future. The strategy includes potentially coercive aspects as well as inducements.

On the coercive side, Russian officials including some at the top, are openly questioning Ukraine’s territorial integrity (also inspiring the Duma to do this), with particular reference to the Crimea and Sevastopol. The possibility of Moscow using local groups to “raise the Russian flag” over Sevastopol and the Crimea, if Kyiv no longer accepts hosting the Russian fleet, lurks distinctly in the background to the continuing debates on the basing agreement (see EDM, February 14, April 4, 7, 10, 11, May 13, 14, June 18).

On the inducement side, the Russian government proposes to: a) increase the rent it pays to Ukraine for leasing the Sevastopol base (a paltry $98 million per year under the 1997 agreements); b) invest Russian funds for the development of the civilian infrastructure in Sevastopol and the Crimea, in the local population’s interest (evidently an accompaniment to naval base upgrading, if Ukraine prolongs the basing agreement); c) place Russian state orders with Ukrainian military-industrial plants in the Crimea and elsewhere in Ukraine (including the now-idle Ukrainian shipyards along the seacoast, as well as certain favored plants on the Ukrainian mainland). Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov has held out this package of incentives twice recently (Interfax, September 23; Vremya Novostei, October 21).

Serdyukov also supervises (alongside Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov) the naval base construction program. That program’s Black Sea dimension focuses on the expansion and modernization of the Novorossiysk base until 2020. It now seems likely to include re-commissioning and modernizing the ex-Soviet submarine base at Ochamchire.

The Black Sea Fleet also expects to be reinforced with new ships, some new and others transferred from other Russian fleets. If those reinforcements do materialize at Novorossiysk and Ochamchire, the Kremlin will undoubtedly argue that it has nowhere to move the Feet from Sevastopol ahead of 2017 and will use that additional excuse for prolonging its naval presence on Ukrainian territory.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby prabir » 30 Oct 2008 21:00

Slowly but firmly all Baltic States, Georgia and Ukraine will come to understand and make peace with the fact that, they cannot work in collaboration with the west on issues that are in contravention against Russian interests. This is because, NATO itself is divided and does not have the appetite to get into a major conflict with Russia. They have enjoyed peace for too long for the first time in their history and their soldiers have become "green" and "ceremonial" soldiers (Sweden, Denmark, Germany etc.)

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 31 Oct 2008 13:03

Britain accused of betraying Georgia and handing victory to Russia
Britain is preparing to "sell" Georgia and hand a "victory" to Russia by agreeing to start talks on a partnership agreement between Moscow and the European Union, according to senior European diplomats

Link Here

This would amount to a return to "business as usual" and a "clear signal" that Russia had escaped any lasting diplomatic penalty for invading Georgia in August, they said.

Only eight weeks ago, Gordon Brown helped persuade other European leaders to punish Russia for its strike into Georgia by postponing talks on a new "Partnership and Cooperation Agreement" with the EU. Aside from verbal condemnation and a general review of the EU's relations with Moscow, this was the only tangible counter-measure imposed on the Kremlin after the war.

Both the Prime Minister and David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, reaffirmed Britain's position during a European summit two weeks ago.

Yet European diplomats say that Britain has changed its stance. France, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, is expected to press for starting the talks with Moscow. British officials are said to have privately told other governments that London will not oppose this move.

A senior diplomat from a Central European country recalled how Mr Miliband visited Georgia shortly after the Russian invasion.


"That was the David Miliband we liked. But the signals we hear right now are that somehow the position has changed," he said.

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France will host an EU-Russia summit in Nice on Nov 14. This event could clear the way for negotiations with the Kremlin.

"Miliband was so strongly in favour of us from the first days of the conflict. Now he is making a U-turn within two weeks just to please Sarkozy. What happened in this world that caused this change?" asked the diplomat.

"Sarkozy wants to have a good summit. He's an Emperor, he's trying to celebrate his victories, he's trying to say that Russia is doing everything it's supposed to do, which is nonsense."


Mr Miliband has insisted that Russia obey a six-point ceasefire deal, which ended the Georgia war on Aug 12, before any talks on the partnership agreement can start. Two weeks ago, the Foreign Secretary said the negotiations depended on "continuing Russian compliance with those commitments that it made in August".

But Russia has broken point five of the ceasefire deal by failing to withdraw its forces to their pre-war positions. William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, said the Government would be guilty of a "major U-turn" if it agreed to start the talks regardless. Mr Hague added: "It would show Russia that aggression pays off, that Britain and other European countries are incapable of holding a firm line against aggression and that Russia's neighbours cannot rely on the EU to protect them from Russian bullying."

The European diplomat said a change in Britain's stance had been made clear in a series of meetings. "All our contacts with British diplomats confirm it, be it in Brussels or be it in London. The whole [British] diplomatic corps is saying the same in every country," he said. "If we sell Georgia like that, we will have another war and who will be responsible for that?"

He added: "So we have two months of solidarity and then business as usual."


A senior British diplomat based in a European country confirmed that London's position had "evolved" in the last two weeks and said the Foreign Office had decided against blocking dialogue with Russia in the long term.

But a Foreign Office spokesman in London denied any policy change and described Britain's stance as "clear and consistent". "We want to have a productive relationship with Russia. But we will take stock of the situation with our European partners next week," he added.

Another European diplomat said the talks were an important "symbol" and Russia would claim a "victory" if they started. "For Moscow, the signal will be clear – we are winning this," he said.

He asked whether Britain's position was linked to this week's visit to Russia by Lord Mandelson, the business secretary. While leading a four-day trade mission to Moscow, Lord Mandelson identified a thaw in Anglo-Russian relations. "You have seen a desire to re-engage, to bring some thawing and hopefully in that context not only advance our economic relationship ... but also to see a chance to resolve some of our political differences," he said.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Philip » 31 Oct 2008 13:51

The last post with Milliband's about turn explains the BBC/Western media reports about "Georgian war crimes" in S.Ossetia! When Georgia invaded and a few days later were soundly thrashed by Russian forces,the west howled only about Russian "invaders",completely ignoring Georgia's heinous war crimes.Now facing the stark reality of the strength and purpose AND economic and energy clout of the Russian bear,Britain ,Brown and his fellow flunkeys of the Foreign Offie have tucked their tails between their legs and are trying to woo Russia into cooperation on European security and energy matters.Why?The collapse of western capitalism has toppled the egos of these worthy countries of the capitalist west off their high perches.The fall has been great and greivous and like "Humpty Dumpty",all Bush and Brown's asses and Bush and Brown's men cannot put their egos back together again!

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby prabir » 31 Oct 2008 19:15

Completely agree with Philip's post.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Johann » 31 Oct 2008 21:19

Philip,

- The EU driven compromise is to support Georgian sovereignty while maintaining an economic relationship with Russia, which was the pre-war status quo. This was not possible *until* Russia withdrew all troops from within Georgia's de faco borders to pre-war positions. The Russians have finally done that as a result of heavy pressure from the West, and a resumption of normal ties is possible.

The only victors in this situation are the South Ossetian paramilitaries who have driven the escalation in this conflict from the beginning, and have succeeded in their long term goal of ethnically cleansing all of the ethnic Georgians villages in South Ossetia. Not unlike the KLA in Kosovo.

- With Russia facing developing serious economic problems (peak oil and gas ahead, low market prices for energy, and capital flight), now is the time to initiate EU-Russian trade negotiations. Remember that these negotiations were originally called for by the EU in the first place, not Russia.

The global economic crisis is hitting Russia's markets very badly. Not only has it crippled energy earnings, it has reversed the massive capital inflows that Russia has seen since the last round of reforms in 2001-2004.

- Energy prices are no longer a paralysing factor for EU economic managers; earlier they were boxed in between inflation and economic slowdown. The crash in energy prices finally gives them room to maneouver by lowering interest rates to stimulate the economy.

The correction to overvalued housing markets in the US, but also Spain and Ireland has been painful, but to compare this to the Great Depression (another brief period when people started to crow about the death of capitalism and the wonders of Moscow) is ridiculous. A more meaningful comparison would be to the burst of the Japanese bubble (also driven by real estate, and resulting in a banking crisis) in 1990. Painful and shocking but relatively little impact on Japan's fundamental economic strength.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby prabir » 01 Nov 2008 00:03

There is one monster called "Credit Default Swaps" which because of "self regulation" has touched about 60 trillion dollars. This western financial innovation is yet to show its true face. So, we do not know the extent of damage and also we do not know its exact ripple effect.

Banks have stopped trusting one another because all of them know how they presented "facts" in their own balance sheet using
- CDOs and CDSs :-)

So, here, this crisis is not because of slow down in the real economy. It is because of Financial innovations and this has the potential of negating good sectors of the economy. Countries that learnt their financial management funda from Wall Street and Harvard are going to be screwed.

India will be spared once again because of "forced regulations" by RBI and financial management concepts learnt from Ambani school of management. So, this is a unique situation and no one knows the right answers as of now.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Suppiah » 01 Nov 2008 15:43

The crisis surely is not minor. Many banks and manufacturing/services companies will collapse. But many will survive, expand and strengthen too. Therefore, the Alimuddin Street gangs, Putins, Chavez and some of their followers here at BRF are entitled to a bit more of merry making this time around than they could manage when troops surrounded the Russian Parliament and a communist coup to re-takeover SU was on. That one lasted a few days only. But question is do they have the answers? No. Have they demonstrated that consistently elsewhere? Absolutely NO. So all talk of collapse of capitalism is just that - empty talk. Comparing with Indian state controlled banking business/RBI is like comparing the situation of a few swimmers in thousand that die at sea with someone that never goes to the beach.

When the bills are tallied, a few years from now, my expectation is that the Putin's and Chavez's if they are still around, will have much more wounds to lick and nurse than the US/UK/Germany etc.

Japan took way too long to recover from a similar crisis for two reasons - it took years to stop lying and accept that the problems exist. It took even more years to put together a proper action plan. That is the feature of Japanese system/politics. The West is surely not making that mistake. Criminal investigations are already on - you can expect a few more Lay's, Kozlowskis and Fastows to emerge and go to jail.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby prabir » 01 Nov 2008 19:56

Interesting..... may I know why there were downsizing at SEC, Justice Department in US when going was good starting with Clinton era ? The situation is that, they have to pick and choose before deciding to go ahead with the investigation ?

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Suppiah » 02 Nov 2008 06:38

prabir wrote:Interesting..... may I know why there were downsizing at SEC, Justice Department in US when going was good starting with Clinton era ? The situation is that, they have to pick and choose before deciding to go ahead with the investigation ?


It is not my point that the western systems are perfect, they are far from. It is often not possible or practical in white collar crimes, to go after every case. It is enough, though, to beat up a few and put fear of god (and jail) so that rest dont dare cross the rekha..

The entire capitalist system runs on the fact that a few are willing to risk losing their capital in exchange for higher returns. But it is a one of willing risk takers. This case is different as many unwilling or unknowing ones were taken for a grand ride by a few.. The control systems failed both at company level and at national levels because very few understood what was going on. There were too many Nick Leesons. The instruments and techniques were new. That is what surprised and pained Greenspan too, if he is saying the truth.

There were many that made genuine investment decisions that went wrong, particularly because of the domino effect of crisis and there were a few that deliberately risked their company's capital and reserves on schemes that they knew were crazy scams (in the hope that they could get away before the collapse). Separating this is not going to be easy.

A few screws were tightened after Enron. A few more are going to be tightened after this one. It is a continuous process. But the system will survive and prosper.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 02 Nov 2008 11:25

But the system will survive and prosper.


Yes, but not in its current form.... Changes are essential and will come in the near future. 100 % capitalism or 100 % socialism, both are not good and can not survive for long. A balance is needed for the people to be happy, and we will see changes that will bring in the right balance.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby prabir » 02 Nov 2008 16:56

It was "self regulation" a euphemism to do anything without checks and balances that led to a situation where for every dollar, 60 dollars were lent.
This does not happen in India because of RBI. Call it good or bad, but reviews, controls are needed because, it is propensity of human nature to succumb to greed.
So, we need oversight.

renukb
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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 04 Nov 2008 10:59

Georgia Used Cluster Bombs That Hit Civilians, Group Says
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1225757 ... lenews_wsj

Georgia used cluster bombs that malfunctioned and fell into towns and villages, killing several of Georgia's own civilians during its summer war with Russia, according to new research by Human Rights Watch, a New York-based humanitarian organization. Georgia called that conclusion "impossible."

The group found that Russia also made extensive use of cluster bombs during the brief war. U.S. intelligence assessments during the conflict also found that both sides were using cluster bombs, a senior Pentagon official said.



Researchers from Human Rights Watch went further, saying that Georgian cluster bombs landed in at least nine Georgian towns, including several located far from the area where Georgia acknowledges using them against Russian soldiers who stormed the country in fighting over the fate of the breakaway republic South Ossetia.

The cluster bombs, which Georgia says it bought from Israel, appeared to have malfunctioned on an "absolutely massive scale," said Marc Garlasco, a former Pentagon intelligence official who now serves as Human Rights Watch's senior military analyst. He said rockets failed to disperse the cluster bombs over the intended targets, and many of the small bombs failed to explode on impact.

Georgia remains littered with thousands of leftover bombs that can be easily triggered by anyone who accidentally touches them, he said. The bombs killed at least three Georgian civilians, the group concluded, including two who died when they accidentally touched unexploded bombs after the fighting ended.

The Georgian Ministry of Defense said in a written statement that Georgia never used cluster bombs against targets that were "nearby/around civilian populated areas" during the war. That made it "impossible" for Georgian missiles to have landed on the nation's own territory, the ministry said.

Still, the ministry said Georgian officials and engineers from the company that sold the weapons were conducting "intensive investigations" to examine the possibility that the weapons malfunctioned.

Human Rights Watch will present its findings Wednesday to a United Nations conference on cluster bombs in Geneva. The group's contentions may raise new concerns about one of the world's most controversial weapons. In May, more than 100 countries agreed to outlaw cluster bombs, but the biggest producers and users -- Russia, China, the U.S., India and Israel -- have said they won't abide by the treaty. Georgia also declined to sign it.

Cluster bombs, carried aboard rockets fired from ground-based mobile launchers, are designed to blanket areas the size of football fields with hundreds of smaller bombs. Humanitarian groups are trying to ban the weapons because they often kill or wound civilians.

"Not only are these weapons indiscriminate and disproportionate, but they're also so unreliable that using them can potentially endanger your own population," Mr. Garlasco said.

Georgia has long insisted that it only fired cluster bombs at the Russian forces advancing through the Roki Tunnel, a strategically important thoroughfare connecting Russia with South Ossetia.

Georgian officials say they bought the cluster bombs, launchers and rockets from a company in Israel. The officials declined to name the firm, but a senior Pentagon official said that Georgia has a longstanding relationship with Israel Military Industries, Israel's largest defense firm.

Jonathan Peled, a spokesman for the Israeli embassy, declined to comment. A spokesman for Israel Military Industries didn't respond to emails.

The Russian embassy in Washington didn't respond to requests for comment on the Human Rights Watch findings.

Philip
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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Philip » 04 Nov 2008 11:57

Johann,left to themselves,Russia and the EU I'm positive, will sort out their security problems and evolve an energy/security "architecture" to their mutual benefit.Russia is both an Asian and European superpower and it realises that Europe is its most important neighbour/ally in building economic success.

Unfortunately,the dying Bush administration encouraged during its 8 years an adventuristic foreign policy that was founded upon a pro-active military stance with expeditionary military operatiosn,rather invasions,to secure the next "American century".The quote of Cheney,"we must secure EurAsia to secure the world",in Stone's latest documentary on the Bush presidency underlines this point.There is enough hard evidence that this was the Bush-Cheney doctrine all these years.

Expanding NATO's frontiers and drawing into the US's military alliance a host of large and small nations like Georgia,was encouraged.Unfortunately for Saakashvili,his delusions of grandeur and misreading of the extent US/NATO support was his downfall.Another dictator some time ago also misread the signals from a US ambassador and was eventually like Saakashvili,kicked out of Kuwait,Saddam! I am sure that once a new US president takes over,the rhetoric will die down and it will be business as usual between Russia and the west,if only for the fact that the global economic crisis threatens the survival of governments worldwide.However,for the sake of us all,they should sit down and take some hard decisions (and empower the UNSC) jointly regarding Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran's controversial nuclear ambitions,which threatens to ignite the Middle East.The next US Sec. of State will perhaps be the most important post to fill.There is some talk that Obama might ask Gates to stay on.Any confirmation on this?

prabir
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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby prabir » 04 Nov 2008 17:18

Very correct analysis.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Kati » 07 Nov 2008 22:33

Georgians rally against president, BBC, Nov 7, 2008
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7715735.stm

Thousands of opposition activists have demonstrated in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi - their first major protest since the conflict with Russia.

Critics have accused President Mikhail Saakashvili of starting a war with Russia that Georgia could not win.

"We are starting a new wave of civil confrontation, and we will not give up until new elections are called," opposition leader Kakha Kukava said.

A year ago opposition rallies were broken up by police.

Rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon were used in a crackdown that ended days of protests but opened the government up to accusations of heavy-handedness.

Following those protests, Mr Saakashvili went on to call snap elections, which he won.

Critical time

There were about 10,000 protesters at Friday's rally, according to estimates by reporters at the scene.

They crowded the steps outside parliament, holding banners and waving flags, calling for democratic reforms.

They were fewer than the 30,000 the opposition had hoped for, and fewer than at protests a year ago.

But while these do not pose as much of a threat to the president as the 2007 protests, they do come at critical time, says the BBC's Tom Esslemont in Tbilisi.

Mr Saakashvili is facing questions, both at home and abroad, about whether Georgia used indiscriminate force at the outset of the war in August.

The president is adamant Georgia was provoked by Russia, and has called for an inquiry.

At least five opposition groups were involved in Friday's protests, though one of the leading parties, the Christian Democrats, did not join in.

Analysts say some Georgians are reluctant to stoke unrest, fearing that will be exploited by Russia.

'Enemy at door'

Earlier this week Mr Saakashvili dismissed his army chief, Zaza Gogava, following a review of the conflict with Russia in August.

He said "the enemy" was still at Georgia's door and he had to address "shortcomings" in the military.

The conflict in the region began on 7 August when Georgia tried to retake its breakaway region of South Ossetia by force after a series of lower-level clashes with Russian-backed rebels.

Russia launched a counter-attack and the Georgian troops were ejected from both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, a second breakaway region, days later.

Russian forces remain in the two regions, and Moscow has backed their declarations of independence.

Philip
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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Philip » 09 Nov 2008 18:30

Georgia fired first shot, say UK monitors.
Saakashvili and US lies exposed!

Jon Swain
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/w ... 114401.ece

"“It was clear to me that the [Georgian] attack was completely indiscriminate and disproportionate to any, if indeed there had been any, provocation,” he said. “The attack was clearly, in my mind, an indiscriminate attack on the town, as a town.”

Last month Young gave a similar briefing to visiting military attachés, in which he reportedly supported the monitors’ assessment that there had been little or no shelling of Georgian villages on the night Saakashvili’s troops mounted an onslaught on Tskhinvali in which scores of civilians and Russian peacekeepers died.

“If there had been heavy shelling in areas that Georgia claimed were shelled, then our people would have heard it, and they didn’t,” Young reportedly said. “They heard only occasional small-arms fire.”


Two former British military officers are expected to give crucial evidence against Georgia when an international inquiry is convened to establish who started the country’s bloody five-day war with Russia in August.

Ryan Grist, a former British Army captain, and Stephen Young, a former RAF wing commander, are said to have concluded that, before the Russian bombardment began, Georgian rockets and artillery were hitting civilian areas in the breakaway region of South Ossetia every 15 or 20 seconds.

Their accounts seem likely to undermine the American-backed claims of President Mikhail Saakashvili of Georgia that his little country was the innocent victim of Russian aggression and acted solely in self-defence.

During the war both Grist and Young were senior figures in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The organisation had deployed teams of unarmed monitors to try to reduce tension over South Ossetia, which had split from Georgia in a separatist struggle in the early 1990s with Russia’s support.

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On the night war broke out, Grist was the senior OSCE official in Georgia. He was in charge of unarmed monitors who became trapped by the fighting. Based on their observations, Grist briefed European Union diplomats in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, with his assessment of the conflict.

Grist, who resigned from the OSCE shortly afterwards, has told The New York Times it was Georgia that launched the first military strikes against Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital.

“It was clear to me that the [Georgian] attack was completely indiscriminate and disproportionate to any, if indeed there had been any, provocation,” he said. “The attack was clearly, in my mind, an indiscriminate attack on the town, as a town.”

Last month Young gave a similar briefing to visiting military attachés, in which he reportedly supported the monitors’ assessment that there had been little or no shelling of Georgian villages on the night Saakashvili’s troops mounted an onslaught on Tskhinvali in which scores of civilians and Russian peacekeepers died.

“If there had been heavy shelling in areas that Georgia claimed were shelled, then our people would have heard it, and they didn’t,” Young reportedly said. “They heard only occasional small-arms fire.”

Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister who helped broker the ceasefire that ended the war and has been a fierce critic of the Russian invasion of Georgia, is tomorrow due to announce a commission of inquiry into the conflict at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

The inquiry will be chaired by a Swiss expert as a mark of independence and will try to establish who was to blame for the conflict. European and OSCE sources say it is likely to seek evidence from the two former British officers.

The inquiry comes as the EU softens its hardline position towards Russia amid mounting European scepticism about Saakashvili’s judgment.

Europe is preparing to resume negotiations with Moscow this month on a new partnership and cooperation agreement, which it froze when Russia invaded Georgia, routed its army and recognised the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another breakaway region.

Although Grist and Young know only part of the picture, their evidence appears to support Russia’s claim that the Georgian attack was well underway by the time their troops and armour crossed the border in a huge counter-strike.

Georgia attacked South Ossetia on the night of August 7-8. In the afternoon an OSCE patrol had seen Georgian artillery and Grad rocket launchers massing just outside the enclave. At 6pm the monitors were told of suspected Georgian shelling of a village.

Georgia declared a unilateral ceasefire. But at 11pm it announced that Georgian villages were being shelled and began a military operation to “restore constitutional order” in South Ossetia.

Soon afterwards the Georgian bombardment of Tskhinvali began. By 12.35am the OSCE monitors had recorded more than 100 rockets or shells exploding in Tskhinvali.

Russia sent in troops and armour, saying they were there to protect its peacekeepers and the civilian population. The invasion attracted worldwide condemnation and led to a deterioration in relations between Moscow and the West.

Many western leaders depicted Russia as an expansionist giant determined to crush its tiny neighbour. They rallied to Georgia’s defence amid calls for it to be rapidly admitted to Nato, Saakashvili’s most fervent wish.

The president argued that Russia had attacked Georgia because “we want to be free” and that his country was fighting a defensive war.

Critical to his argument was his claim that he had ordered the Georgian army to attack South Ossetia in self-defence after mobile telephone intercepts from the Russian border revealed that Russian army vehicles were entering Georgian territory through the Roki tunnel.

“We wanted to stop the Russian troops before they could reach Georgian villages,” Saakashvili said. “When our tanks moved toward Tskhinvali, the Russians bombed the city. They were the ones – not us – who reduced it to rubble.”

Russia counters that the war began at 11.30pm, when Saakashvili ordered an attack, well before any Russian combat troops and armour crossed the border through the tunnel.

HOW FIGHTING BROKE OUT

August 7, 3pm: OSCE monitors see build-up of Georgian artillery on roads to South Ossetia.

6.10pm: Russian peacekeepers inform OSCE of suspected Georgian artillery fire on Khetagurovo, a South Ossetian village.

7pm: Georgia declares a unilateral ceasefire.

11pm: Georgia announces that its villages are being shelled and launches attack in South Ossetia.

11.30pm: Georgian forces bombard Tskhinvali.

11.45pm: OSCE monitors report shells falling on Tskhinvali every 15-20 seconds.

August 8, 12.15am: Commander of Russian peacekeepers reports that his unit has taken casualties. Russia later announces that it has invaded Georgia to protect civilians and Russian peacekeepers.



Have your say

How can anyone seriously say Ossetia should be a part of Georgia after this?

Just like in Kosovo, we should support democacy and the will of the people in Ossetia to be Free.

Ian Sankey, Plymouth, UK

In this long-lasting conflict, I can't tell who is right, but it appears that Saakashvili commited a crime in August 7th. Western media and NATO shamelessly supported him. My respect to two British OSCE officers,Grist and Young. Too late, although...

Paul, Frechen,

Proof that truth is the first casualty in war. When proven, will
shame and blame be apportioned, on paper , for all to see?
Then for sure, european money will repair some of the damage, but whos? Will it thus 'pay 'to be aggressive, or even to lie ? What about the dead and disposessed ? No return!

geoffrey swain, Algarve, portugal


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