Caucasus Crisis

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 19 Sep 2008 21:29

From UPI

Russia spells out retaliation threat to BMD base

MOSCOW, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Defense's decision to deploy 10 Ground-based Mid-course Interceptors in Poland will expose the real interim and end goals of its plans for a global anti-ballistic missile system, which Washington started creating after it withdrew from the Soviet-American 1972 Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002.

If the Pentagon chooses Turkey, it will be able to monitor not only Iran's missile program but also the situation in European Russia -- strategic missile forces deployed in Ivanovo, Tver, Saratov and Kaluga regions. If it opts for Israel, its main goal will be Iran, and if it deploys its ABM systems in Japan, the targets will be China and Russia, including Russia's strategic missile forces in the Krasnoyarsk territory.

The missile-tracking radar is ineffective without interceptor missiles, which means that a new ABM interceptor base inevitably will be built nearby. So we may soon hear about the "classified location" of such a base.

Russia is worried about these preparations, especially since its relations with the United States are deteriorating, including over South Ossetia. Russian generals are also worried because the United States is not fulfilling the pledges it made at the meetings of both countries' defense and foreign ministers to make the ABM system transparent to Russia.

Russian participants in these meetings have told me they believe the United States has no intention to formalize or make binding its promises "not to deploy anti-ballistic missiles in their silos until they know for certain that Iran has created missiles capable of reaching Europe" and "to place the Czech radar so that it faces only Iran."

Further complicating things, the Pentagon has said it will allow Russian officers to visit its ABM facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic only if the two countries grant them visas.

This only increases Russian suspicions about the true target of the U.S. strategic missile defense systems in Europe.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did not say at his news conference in Warsaw last week how Russia would respond to their deployment near its border. "Do you really expect me to disclose the General Staff's secrets?" he asked.

But Russia's possible response is not a secret anymore. Russian generals, including Nikolai Solovtsov, commander of the Strategic Missile Force, have said more than once that Russia would retarget its strategic missiles at the Czech Republic and Poland. If they want to become targets for Russian nuclear missiles, it's their choice, the generals say.

Russia has told Washington more than once that no fence of anti-ballistic missiles near its border would save the United States from a retaliatory strike by missiles capable of evading ABMs as well as by air and naval systems.

The latest reminder was the flight of two Russian Tupolev Tu-160 White Swan -- NATO designation Blackjack -- variable geometry strategic bombers to Venezuela, and the upcoming Russian-Venezuelan naval exercises, which may involve strategic and multirole nuclear submarines.

The United States may soon find the ballistic missile system it is installing contrary to Russia's interests more of a headache than an asset.

--

(Nikita Petrov is a Russian military analyst. This article is reprinted by permission of RIA Novosti. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.)

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 19 Sep 2008 21:37

Russian Prophecies: Foretellers: Russia will dominate the world
But the lives of people and the fortune of nations are very different stories. While the fortune of a person is his or her own affair, those of countries, and of the world, are the problems of mankind. Philosophers, astrologers, and fortune-tellers have been giveing advice on these matters through the ages. Yes, people may have different attitudes to prophecies, but regardless of one's opinions about them, one thing is for sure: they are fascinating.


http://mnweekly.ru/local/20080606/55332043.html

Russia ‘Had Laser Cannons Before U.S.’
http://mnweekly.ru/news/20080523/55330131.html


Flying High
MOSCOW - Russia's rearmament program, approved in 2006 for a period until 2015, provides for supplying modern weapons to its armed forces. One of them is the Su-34 Fullback fighter-bomber, which will replace the Su-24 Fencers.

http://mnweekly.ru/world/20080424/55325432.html

MOSCOW - Russia's rearmament program, approved in 2006 for a period until 2015, provides for supplying modern weapons to its armed forces. One of them is the Su-34 Fullback fighter-bomber, which will replace the Su-24 Fencers.

The process has begun, but some say the replacement is taking too long.

The new fighter-bomber is said to be very good. An improvement on the Su-27 Flanker, it has cutting-edge equipment, including a modern crew and equipment protection system. The Su-34 is effective against personnel and military hardware on the battlefield and also against targets behind enemy lines. It can also be used for surveillance missions and against naval targets.

The Su-34 will replace the Su-24M aircraft (about 400 planes), the Su-24MR surveillance aircraft (over 100 planes), and the MiG-25RB aircraft (about 70). Russia will have to produce between 550 and 600 Su-34s to replace these obsolete aircraft within 10-15 years.

However, the Defense Ministry plans to buy only about 58 such planes by 2015, and a total of 300 by 2022.

Many experts say that if the Su-24 and MiG-25RB aircraft are scrapped by 2020, Russia will be left without fighter-bombers and surveillance aircraft. Others argue that this number will be enough for the Air Force's new concept.

The concept is focused not so much on the combat characteristics of the Su-34, as on its long range, the ability to refuel in the air (including by other Su-34 aircraft with additional fuel tanks under their wings), and its comfortable cabin allowing the crew to make long-distance flights without becoming overtired.

Units armed with such aircraft can be used in the so-called pendulum operations, when an Air Force unit bombs a terrorist base in Central Asia today, delivers a strike at a missile base in Europe the next day, and three days later flies to the Indian Ocean to support a combined group of the Northern, Pacific and Black Sea fleets, with flights from a base in Russia.

The Su-34 aircraft has long-range precision weapons, can fly hugging the earth, and has a high level of protection, which should cut losses during lightning operations, while the use of a relatively small number of such aircraft allows training crews to perfection.

This is not a new concept. Elite units of top-class aircraft manned by superbly trained crews formed the core of the German air force during World War II, and Japan's Imperial Navy had a similar concept.

However, such elite units can be quickly weeded out by swarms of ordinary aircraft in a global war of attrition, such as World War II. From this viewpoint, Russia's new concept looks vulnerable, but then this country has the nuclear triad for a global war.

In a war of attrition, it will not matter how many such smart aircraft Russia will have - 200, 600 or 1,500. What will really matter is the yield of a nuclear bomb they will be able to drop on the enemy.

But in the event of a small war involving one or two adversaries, or a chain of local conflicts, the existence of such high-speed, highly protected and well-armed aircraft can be the decisive factor. Even 58 Su-34 fighter-bombers, used at the right time in the right place, would be a powerful force. A group of 200-300 such aircraft, divided into several units for use in key areas of the battlefield, will be able to fulfill the most complicated tasks.

Apart from the Su-34, the Russian Air Force will also receive other new planes, whose technical characteristics will maintain the force's combat potential at the requisite level. New units, set up for the fulfillment of specific tasks, will consist of fighters, bombers, early warning and command planes, flying tankers, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

These will be highly mobile units, which means that its aircraft can be quickly dispatched to the area in question. In fact, Russia's new concept is not unlike the United States' Aerospace Expeditionary Force (AEF), a flexible and powerful instrument of air warfare capable of quickly delivering strikes in any part of the world.

As for surveillance aircraft, industrialized countries intend to replace them with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The world is changing, and the new world will wage new kind of wars.

By Ilya Kramnik, RIA

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 21 Sep 2008 18:25

NATO should avoid military conflict with Russia, U.S. defense secretary says

The Associated Press

WOODSTOCK, England – The world should keep its powder dry as it reckons with a newly assertive Russia, avoiding military confrontation as the U.S. did during the Cold War, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday.

"In reality, Russia's policies are born of a grievance-based desire to dominate" nations at its hemlines, including many once firmly under the Soviet thumb, Dr. Gates said. The policies are not, he said, "an ideology-based effort to dominate the globe."

"Russia's current actions, however egregious, do not represent the existential and global threat that the Soviet Union represented."

The brief war involving Russia and Georgia last month outraged Europe and the U.S., but probably did not bring Georgia much closer to its goal of joining the 59-year-old NATO alliance. Russia opposes NATO membership for the former Soviet republic.

Mr. Gates spoke at a NATO meeting that ended Friday.

He also told NATO members that they will be expected to share the cost of expanding the Afghan army.

"I let a number of my colleagues know that we would be in touch in terms of the importance of sharing the cost of the increased size of the Afghan army because, after all, the effectiveness of the Afghan security forces – and in particular the army – in the long term is NATO's exit strategy," he said.

The army is to grow to 134,000 soldiers from 80,000 so the force can stand on its own against terrorists.

The Associated Press

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 21 Sep 2008 18:30

Small allies, big headaches: Major powers have to be wary lest friendly nations lead them down a slippery slope to conflict.

Small allies bear close watching. We now know that, earlier this year, U.S. diplomats saw tensions rising between Georgia and Russia over the disputed enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and recognized that Washington had few levers to pull should the situation get out of hand. So they advised Georgian officials not to provoke the growling bear. But the cautionary message was weak and undercut by other administration signals of strong backing for Tbilisi.

Eventually, the Georgian government took matters into its own hands, Russia got the pretext it sought for some calculated thuggery, and the result was a geopolitical fiasco that left everybody worse off.

The crisis was a classic example of what economists call "moral hazard" -- the fact that offering insurance to somebody often leads them to take greater risks than they otherwise would. If Georgia had not been led to believe that the United States might back it in a crisis, it probably would have played its hand more carefully -- and whatever compromises it might have had to make, it would have been better off as a result. This sort of thing happens all the time, and shows why great powers need to be careful lest their dependents embroil them in unnecessary conflicts.

Ironically, the Bush administration sometimes demonstrates that it understands well both the problem and the solution -- as can be seen by its skillful handling of Taiwan, another plucky little democracy embroiled in a territorial dispute with a revanchist authoritarian neighbor.

Ever since President Nixon's opening to China, Taiwan has posed a quandary for American foreign policy. The mainland considers it a renegade province waiting to be retaken, but the United States has strong historical, moral and practical ties to Taiwan's thriving capitalist democracy. Successive U.S. administrations have finessed the problem by kicking the can down the road, hoping that eventually the two local parties might agree on a peaceful solution. Until then, Washington's policy of "strategic ambiguity" is designed to deter both sides from radical moves that might upset the status quo and trigger a war.

In practice, this means signaling to China that Washington will help Taiwan defend itself against an unprovoked attack while simultaneously making sure Taiwan avoids serious provocations (such as a formal declaration of independence). The policy is somewhere between pure realpolitik (which would control risks by cutting loose a strategic nuisance) and pure idealism (which would grant a vibrant democracy routine rights of self-determination regardless of the consequences). It is actually a fine example of the distinctive "American realism" that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sometimes touts.

Interestingly, when neoconservatives pushed to overturn the policy in favor of a more full-throated and unconditional support of Taiwan, the Bush administration paid them little heed. And when Taiwan seemed on the verge of declaring independence a few years ago, the Bush team came down hard behind the scenes to stop the move in its tracks -- something that helps explain why this perennial flash point has been absent from newspaper front pages in recent years.

Such a "tough love" approach to independent-minded junior partners has often been a valued part of the American diplomatic arsenal, deployed by policymakers determined to keep control over sensitive situations. In 1973, for example, the Nixon administration kept Israel from destroying the surrounded Egyptian 3rd Army at the end of the Yom Kippur War, thus avoiding a superpower confrontation while paving the way for an eventual settlement. And in 1991, the George H.W. Bush administration restrained Israel from retaliating for Iraqi missile strikes during the Persian Gulf War, thus keeping its broad coalition intact throughout the conflict.

Bush 41's move is particularly instructive. In addition to giving the Israelis some Patriot missiles to shoot down the incoming Scud missiles, Washington refused to provide Israel with the codes that would have allowed its planes to cross safely over American-controlled "no-fly-zone" airspace in order to strike Iraq. Experts disagree about whether it would be just as easy to prevent Israel from launching a rogue attack on the Iranian nuclear program today, but the precedent is clear: Should the U.S. and Israel disagree about the wisdom of a preventive counter-proliferation strike, the latter's view need not prevail.

Public discourse about foreign policy tends to be simplistic to the point of caricature -- seeing it as a matter of separating good guys from bad guys, friends from enemies, and supporting the former while confronting the latter. This was captured perfectly in vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin's recent interview with Charlie Gibson on ABC. Pressed about the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran, she gave the same answer three times in a row: "We are friends with Israel, and I don't think we should second-guess the measures that Israel has to take to defend themselves and for their security."

But professionals know that the real world is often more complex, that nations have differing interests, and major powers have to be wary about letting even friendly good guys lead them down a slippery slope into trouble. That is why, contra Palin, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen have been quietly doing what they can this year to block the possibility of an independent Israeli strike against Iran, to the dismay of many in the Israeli security establishment.

It is only natural for small democratic states living in bad neighborhoods to seek American support and protection, and in certain cases it is entirely appropriate for the United States to give it to them. But when it chooses to do so, the U.S. should make clear that along with the backing comes the responsibility to act prudently -- and should, without sentiment, use all the tools at its disposal to enforce the deal. The Bush 43 team has recognized this in Asia but forgot it in the Caucasus. How forcefully it would handle a third such case in the Middle East during its final months remains unclear.

Gideon Rose is the managing editor of Foreign Affairs.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 21 Sep 2008 18:36

The happenings a month after, are an indication that Russia is hardly any bigger military force than China at most. While US wants to go to war with Russia and punish Russia, Russia seems to be persuading US to deal with them. This shows the weakness of Russians to a greater degree. Also it shows that Russia relies a lot on US and the west on the economic front. I am not advocating that Russia should counter war threats with war threats, but atleast they should stop to be seen persuading USA, like b....ers to co-operate with USA, because IMO, they are not b....ers. Power if not used when needed can be fatal. Greatest example is the USSR.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Rye » 21 Sep 2008 18:51

renukb wrote:
The happenings a month after, are an indication that Russia is hardly any bigger military force than China at most. While US wants to go to war with Russia and punish Russia, Russia seems to be persuading US to deal with them. This shows the weakness of Russians to a greater degree.


That sounds like a lot of wishful thinking based on the "US is uberpowerful" delusion that lots of Indians and Americans seem to suffer. The US is stretched militarily currently and taking on Russia is not going to help the US complete its higher-priority projects in the ME and Afghanistan/Pakistan, while Russia wants time to build up its strength and does not want another long-drawn "cold war" type conflict with the USA --- reasonable people on both sides see this as a lose-lose proposition for both sides, with the only clear winner being china, which gets to see both Russia and USA's diminish their power projection abilities in its neighbourhood by letting them duke it out with each other -- which is probably why the chinese did not support the russians in the CSO after the Georgian conflict (in addition to concerns about not being seen as openly operating against the USA while actively doing so in the background, just like they did with India during the NSG waiver meet).

The hard-liners with the oil-lobby's backing have higher stakes in the game, given that BP's TCB pipeline is under threat with the recent georgian nastiness started by a weak-minded Shaakashvili who underestimated his own army's ability to take on the Russian army (surely fueled by delusions like in the above post).

Russia has been careful to not inconvenience EU when it takes on the USA strategically, as the long-term goal for russia is to develop secure EU and Chinese energy markets -- not that the USA will make that an easy task for Russia. Such a strategy will place immense pressure on the US to go along with EU's diplomatic moves in Central Asia or lose influence in the EU more than they already have. At the end of the day, the EU is not going to antagonize the largest energy supplier in the region with a formidable army to protect its energy resources. "weakness" or "strongness" of armies are subjective opinions and is not useful to analyze the turn of events, unless the relative disparities in strengths is obvious.

It would not be surprising if it turns out that the USA precipitated the crisis in Georgia to put Russia at loggerheads with EU/NATO directly, but Putin/Medvedev refused to take the bait (seeing as to how they are working overtime to placate the EU).

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Johann » 21 Sep 2008 20:03

Rye,

- Given the PRC's Taiwan problem, and separatism in Tibet and Chinese Turkestan, they are severely allergic to the idea of legitimating the independence of breakaway provinces. They would have been much more comfortable with Russian annexation of those areas.

The Russians on the other hand know that they can virtually absorb them while avoiding a sharper EU reaction that would come with outright annexation.

- The Russians both in public and private are spending a lot of time asking themselves why it is that if Russia really has become one of the other poles in a multi-polar world that only state, Nicaragua, has followed their example and recognised the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The Russians have not even been able to persuade one of the members of CSTO, the Russian regional military alliance to follow suit. The Russians want to be able to behave just like the Americans, but still havent really grasped what that really takes.

- The EU committed in 2006 to reversing the increased share that Russia has made up of EU oil and gas supplies. Maintaining Georgia (and Azerbaijan's) independence from Moscow, and completing the Nabucco pipeline will remain top priorities. From the overall EU point of view the best way to do that is to maintain the status quo that existed before Saakashvilli's little Ossetian adventure.

However its not enough to take a generic EU point of view. Below that level there is a *very* wide range of opinions about the right response to Russia's overall posture. Poland has a greater energy dependence on Russia than Germany, but for historical reasons couldnt see thing more differently from Germany when it comes to the issue of how to deal with the crisis.

- Turkey in particular wants to be a hub for energy supplies from the eastern Mediterranean, Caspian (ultimately including Iran), and even Central Asia to Europe. That means they are in competition with the Russian desire to establish a monopoly on oil and gas supplies from the former Soviet republics. However Turkey can not succeed in becoming an energy hub if wars keep breaking out. Hence the Turkish led effort at conflict resolution regarding Ngorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby prabir » 21 Sep 2008 20:13

"In reality, Russia's policies are born of a grievance-based desire to dominate" nations at its hemlines, including many once firmly under the Soviet thumb, Dr. Gates said. The policies are not, he said, "an ideology-based effort to dominate the globe."

"Russia's current actions, however egregious, do not represent the existential and global threat that the Soviet Union represented."


Finally a voice of reason and pragmatic politics. Both need each other...... and both will stand to lose if they continue to confront one another on trivial issues. Respect for Russia's legitimate interests is in interest of USA and NATO.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Sanjay M » 21 Sep 2008 20:54

I agree. It is these Atlanticist/Trilateralist/Wilsonian types who deliberately want to aggrandize the Russian threat beyond its actual reality, in order to sucker the western public into maximum adventurism and confrontationalism.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Philip » 22 Sep 2008 19:19

"Mikheil the Destroyer".

Saakashvili,denounced by a Georgian celebrity.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world ... 37580.html

Tina Kandelaki: From Georgia with loathing

The television star Tina Kandelaki might be expected to feel aggrieved about Russian action in Georgia, her native country. Not a bit of it. Moscow's media has more freedom, she says, and her President, Mikheil Saakashvili, will go down in history as Mikheil the Destroyer, she tells Shaun Walker

Monday, 22 September 2008
Tina Kandelaki: "Saakashvili did everything possible to bring about the war between Russia and Georgia"

Tina Kandelaki has one of the best known faces in Russia. She's one of the country's top television presenters, has appeared on the covers of Russian FHM and Playboy, and runs a successful production company. She is also a Georgian, one of an estimated one million Georgians who live in Russia, and whose lives have been turned upside down by the recent conflict between the two countries over the breakaway territory of South Ossetia.


Up to now, Russia's Georgian community, which includes a large number of influential cultural figures, has maintained a low profile over the conflict and kept public statements to a minimum. But Ms Kandelaki, speaking to The Independent in an upmarket bar just off Red Square, is angry. The focus of her anger is not Russia's President, Dmitry Medvedev, or its uncompromising Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, nor is it the Russian army, which occupied large swathes of Georgia last month. Ms Kandelaki is angry with one man only – Mikheil Saakashvili, the Georgian President.

"Saakashvili did everything possible to bring this about," says Ms Kandelaki. "Of course the Russian response was disproportionate, and difficult to deal with, but it was all Saakashvili's fault."

Ms Kandelaki, 32, who speaks fast, loudly and with fury in her eyes, has a personal history with the Georgian President. Born in Tbilisi, she became a TV star in her native Georgia, before moving to Moscow to further her career 10 years ago. She says that three years ago on a visit to Tbilisi, Mr Saakashvili asked her to come back home and run a Georgian TV channel.

"To start with, he was charming, but his whole career is based on personal power and overcoming his own personal complexes," she said. "He told me that he would go down in history, along with David the Builder, a medieval Georgian king. He's not David the Builder, he's Mikheil the Destroyer."

She accuses Mr Saakashvili of running Georgia like an autocrat, trampling free speech and whipping up hatred against Russia. "Twenty four hours a day they show propaganda about how bad the Russians are," she says. "Everything there is controlled by Saakashvili – business, and the media. There is no freedom at all."

Indeed, Ms Kandelaki makes the controversial claim that Russia, where television is notorious for being under the close control of the Kremlin, has a freer media than "democratic" Georgia.

"In Russia, every time I'm on television I talk about how I'm a Georgian; I talk about how much I love my country, and nobody has ever told me to stop saying this, I've never received a call saying I should talk less about Georgia, and I've never been discriminated against for being Georgian."

A spokesman for the Russian Union of Georgians said that most members of the expatriate community have Russian passports, although the minority with Georgian passports now have no consular representation since Mr Saakashvili cut diplomatic links between the two countries in the wake of last month's conflict.

Georgians in Russia have been on alert since 2006 when, during an earlier dispute between the two countries, Russia cut all transport links and banned the import of Georgian wine. Many Georgian citizens were rounded up and deported.

"Two years ago, there were big problems for Georgians, but this time we haven't had any reports of discrimination or attacks," said the union's spokesman. "One Georgian cafe was burnt down a month ago, which might be linked, but otherwise everything is peaceful."

But other Georgians in Moscow reported that there had been problems. Zurab Makashvili, a shop owner, said that he had been abused by customers when they realised he was Georgian. "Now I just tell them I'm an Armenian," he said. "Russians usually can't tell the difference."

"We're angry with the US and we're angry with Russia," said Tea Kenia, 28, a Georgian who was born in Sukhumi, the capital of Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia, but left for Moscow with her family in 1992 when the Abkhaz separatists defeated the Georgian army. "Georgia is just a small country where two superpowers are fighting."

Ms Kenia prefers not to talk about the conflict with Russians. "I just decided not to discussit with my friends because I know we think differently," she said. "For me, the situation is a bit strange now. I don't feel entirely safe."

Ms Kenia said that her family's car, as well as the cars of several other Georgians living in the same apartment block, had been vandalised, their tyres slashed, at the height of the conflict. "It's difficult to believe that it was just chance – all the cars belonged to Georgians," she said.

Mr Saakashvili has accused some Georgians living in Russia of being traitors and earlier this year charged that criminal elements which he flushed out of the country when he came to power had moved to Russia and were now working for the Russian security services.

But one thing that all Georgians living in Russia seem to agree on is that Mr Saakashvili was misguided in trying to take Georgia out of Russia's orbit and embrace the US and Nato.

Zurab Tsereteli, a Georgian sculptor who is a close friend of the mayor of Moscow and has built a monument to Russian-Georgian friendship in the city, compared the war to a lovers' tiff. "Even if you really love your wife, you'll still have to take a break sometimes," Mr Tsereteli told a Russian newspaper. "Sometimes you need to take a break from love, and that's what's happening now. But tomorrow the romance will start again, and it will be passionate!"

Ms Kandelaki agreed that Mr Saakashvili's reorientation of Georgia will be temporary: "Russia is much closer to us than America; the Russian and Georgian cultures have been intertwined for centuries, and each is unimaginable without the other. If we want to be happy we must find a connection with Russia, and everybody understands this except Saakashvili. We are so close to Russia. For America, we are only a small place where they can put their military bases. After all, we're only 40 minutes away from Iran."

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 23 Sep 2008 20:31

Russia drone shot down, Georgia says
Posted 5 hours 45 minutes ago

Georgia says it has shot down a Russian reconnaissance drone over Georgian territory, just south of the breakaway region of South Ossetia


http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008 ... tion=world

The drone was brought down on Monday morning (local time) near the town of Gori, some 30km from the de facto border with South Ossetia, Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said.

"It was flying over the territory between the villages of Khurvaleti and Tsitelutani," he said.

"We believe it was patrolling the territory where the Baku-Supsa [oil] pipeline runs."


Mr Utiashvili said it was a short-range drone, and suggested it had been launched from Russian positions holding a "security zone" just a few kilometres north of Gori.

In Moscow, Russian army spokesman Vitaly Manushko denied that any such incident had occurred.

"There has been no crash or downing of any flying apparatus in the security zone," Manushko was quoted by RIA Novosti news agency as saying.

Defence ministry spokesman Alexander Drobyshevsky was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying: "This is the latest informational provocation from the Georgian side with the aim of destabilising the situation in the region."

The incident came as Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was due on Tuesday to appeal for international support in his country's conflict with Russia at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Georgian separatists have frequently claimed to have shot down Georgian reconnaissance drones, but claims by Georgia to have shot down Russian drones have been rare.

Russian forces continue to hold positions inside undisputed Georgian territory after they repelled a Georgian assault in early August to retake South Ossetia from pro-Moscow separatists.

Under the terms of a French-brokered pullback deal, Russian forces are due to withdraw from the 'security zones' adjacent to South Ossetia and another breakaway region, Abkhazia, by October 10.


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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 23 Sep 2008 20:59

Russia denies its drone shot down over Georgia
http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/ ... EN20080923

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's Defense Ministry on Tuesday denied a claim by Georgia it had shot down an unmanned Russian spy drone over its territory.

"This is the latest media provocation by Georgia with the aim of destabilizing the situation in the region. The aircraft of Russia's defense ministry have conducted no flights in the security zone," Defense Ministry spokesman Alexander Drobyshevsky told Reuters.


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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 24 Sep 2008 20:49

West should admit that Russia has its own interests

NATO in particular and the West in general have no common position towards Russia. The USA, where the presidential election campaign goes full swing, tries to take the toughest possible line with Russia. In many respects that is why some American government officials seek to support Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili.

New NATO member states (for example, the Baltic countries) try to follow the tough policy towards Russia, proceeding from their own disagreements with Moscow. At the same time, such countries as Germany, France, Italy and Spain have a softer stance since they do not wish to sacrifice the partnership and good relations with Moscow.

So I do not know what kind of the relations will be built between Russia and NATO after the crisis in the Caucasus. The Alliance has the problems with Afghanistan where NATO depends on cooperation with Russia. For instance, all the military equipment for the German troops in Afghanistan is supplied through Russia.

At present the emotions can change the situation seriously. The problem is that the Russian leadership refuses to deal with the Georgian authorities and the leaders of both countries continue to exchange personal accusations with each other.

The European Union believes that now there is a need to create common civilization with its neighbours, which will allow the countries to live side by side in peace and harmony. The EU membership has grown several times, thus strengthening the Western civilization.

But it is necessary to understand that we face an important landmark. After the enlargement of NATO and the EU the Western civilization came nearer to the areas with different culture, different attitude to laws and different view on democracy.

By its drastic measures in South Ossetia Russia tries to stop the Western expansion eastward. Moscow makes it clear that it doesn't want NATO enlargement at the expense of the territories that are close to Russia. At the meeting with the participants of the International Discussion Club Valdai (September 12), President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev said even more strictly than Premier Vladimir Putin used to that the West should admit that Russia, like the USA, has its own area of influence.

Energy cooperation between Russia and Europe
I believe that a watershed in the relations between Russia and the West came in 2006, when the quarrels between Russia and Ukraine began, rather than on August 8, 2008, when the crisis in the Caucasus happened.

Since 2006, the Western politicians have been talking about the “energy wars”, creation of the “energy NATO” and the energy security problems. Many European officials started to come out against Nord Stream project which had been regarded as a commercial, not a political project.

Gas has always (even during the breakup of the Soviet Union) been supplied to Europe, in particular to Germany, in a stable way. But now even the most farsighted German policy-makers say that there is a threat of Moscow's energy dictatorship.

In response to EU's sharp criticism Russia is going to increase its gas exports to the East. At the present time, Russia intensifies its cooperation with Asia. At the International Discussion Club Valdai Russian President Dmitry Medvedev spoke on this subject more than on cooperation with the West.

But the Western experts consider that Russia will fail to direct its energy exports to Asia. The arguments are suggested as follows: lack of resources, shortage of funds to finance the construction of new pipelines and China’s unwillingness to pay for gas as much as Europe pays. I do not agree with that and I polemize with those experts in my new book “Russland gibt Gas”.

In the West many people say that Russia will run out of natural resources in 20-30 years. The fact that such an opinion has prevailed since as late as 2006 casts doubt on its objectivity. I believe that this is a part of a smear campaign and the next stage of politicization of the energy issue. Some Europeans call upon to put an end to the energy cooperation with Russia and to buy Venezuela’s liquefied gas. In response to those unreasonable attacks Moscow promises to establish the “Gas OPEC”, to come to terms with all the gas exporters and to dictate its prices. This is a commercial issue rather than a geopolitical conflict. But the issue has become so global that it has attained the level of the world politics.

Anyway, a concern within the EU regarding the energy security is growing. New research centers and new university departments studying the energy security problems are being established. Today Europe builds the relations with Russia in the context of the energy security.

The material is based on Aleksandr Rahr’s speech in the Russian News and Information Agency RIA Novosti during the presentation of his new book “Russland gibt Gas” on September 12, 2008.

ALEKSANDR RAHR,
Director of Russia, Ukraine/CIS programs, German Council on Foreign Policy, Coordinator of the EU-Russia Forum, Germany
September 24,2008

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 25 Sep 2008 10:34

Russia after Georgia war We aren't isolated at all
http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNew ... MR20080925

Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice suggested that Russia had isolated itself by invading Georgia.

"Russia has one foot in the international system, the integration, and one foot out. That's actually not a very comfortable place to be," said Rice in an interview with CNBC.

Lavrov dismissed the idea.

"We don't feel isolated at all," he said.

Moscow's chief diplomat said more countries were reaching out to Russia than ever before at the current gathering of world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly in New York.


Palin Gets A Lesson On Russia
http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/1 ... 371178.htm

25 September 2008
NEW YORK — Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has briefed Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin about foreign policy challenges regarding Moscow, particularly Russia's invasion of Georgia in August.

"It was great," Palin told reporters of her hour-long session with Kissinger as she left his Park Avenue office.


Palin's foreign policy adviser Stephen Biegun told reporters afterward that Palin had a lot of questions about how to develop a "cooperative relationship" with Russia.

Kissinger credited French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who brokered the Russian-Georgian cease-fire, for his strong stance on behalf of the Georgian people during the crisis. He told Palin that he was going to give a speech "and I'm going to give him a lot of credit for what he did in Georgia."

"Good, good," Palin replied. "And you'll give me more insight on that, also, huh? Good."

Palin's thin foreign policy resume has been the subject of criticism from Democrats and even some Republicans. Until Tuesday, she had never met a foreign leader. She met Tuesday with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who were in New York for the UN General Assembly. With Republican presidential nominee John McCain, Palin on Wednesday was to meet Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko.

The meetings come as part of a drive to prepare Palin for a debate with her Democratic counterpart, Joe Biden, on Oct. 2.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Philip » 25 Sep 2008 11:47

Unfortunately,Colin Powell,Kissinger,Scowcroft and all the closest advisers to George HW Bush (the senior),were totally ignored by George Dubya Bush (junior),when he became pres.,who even roped in as defence Sec. Donald Rumsfeld,his father's worst enemy! The "neo-cns" in control,sabotaged the Cold War "detente" between the Soviets and the US,established by NIxon and Kissinger during the Reagan administration.There is no way that this administration or a future McCain presidency if elected with neo-con support will take anything other than an extreme line with Russia in geo-strategic affairs.From Obama's mouthings too,there is little hope for a new "detente".neither of the two candidates have the vision and grasp of history as Nixon and Kissinger did.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Rye » 25 Sep 2008 20:15

Shaakashvili was "supported" by 100s of military and diplomatic attaches from the US SD --- the declaration of "unilateral independence of Kosovo" was done for extremely devious reasons. Countries that were stupid enough to believe the "human rights" scam in Kosovo (and all of them had no internal secession movements), along with the "new paradigm" that "nation states are disappearing", which is a clever way to justify breaking up existing states for geopolitical benefit under the garb of "human rights" or "religious rights" or some other scam. US is basically waving a red flag at Russia and getting into a fight in central Asia because it has no intention of letting the EU countries to play both US and Russia, or so it seems to me.

The "atlanticist" crowd in the US SD (which is basically everyone but the neo-cons) will never let central asia alone......Zbig seems to have "Strategeric plans" to remake central Asia and Asia itself to benefit America ("The Grand Chessboard" is basically outlining the many ways to retain control of Europe, gain influence in Central Asia).

Johann, missed your reply. You are right that the EU is not monolithic, but if they ever manage to reach consensus, then they will choose for the low cost option for the future, which would be not to get embroiled in another power play in central asia that does not benefit any country in the region one bit.


JMTs

Added later: It is unsettling to see the US (both democrats and republicans) let people like Zbigniew ruin our lives once again like he did by creating the islamic jihad movement in Afghanisthan and Pakistan during the cold war when he was the NSA for Carter (Which finally resulted in 9/11) -- this git will come up with something just as stupid and dangerous like reigniting the crusades to "win" some geopolitical game, that will put future generations of americans at risk from any unpredictable "blowback" (like 9/11) that Zbig certainly cannot pretend to know or have worked into his "grand plan for the universe").

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Johann » 25 Sep 2008 20:43

Rye,

The US and most of the EU want the same things when it comes to the former Soviet Republics, incuding Central Asia.

One of those things is that they want to be able to buy oil and and gas from those states *without* going through either Russia or Iran.

The difference is that the US is willing to pursue higher risk methods - their economic relationship with Russia is much less interdependant, and of course the EU as a whole does not have integrated military and intelligence instruments of policy.

The EU has essentially three broad sets of countries on its immediate periphery - Arb states to the south and SE Arab states, Turkey in the SE along with the Caucasian republics (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan), and in the east Slavic (Belarus, Ukraine, Russia) states. The EU has no plans to integrate the Arabs, is conflicted about the Turks, and has every hope of eventually integrating much of the Slavic and much of the ex-Soviet periphery.

Another place where the EU and US diverge is the importance attached to promoting democracy, transparency and rule of law. For the Americans those are abstract ideals that are often eclipsed by what are seen as concrete security goals. For the EU transforming those states is the best long term means to build security.

They have no interest in integrating endemically corrupt, broken down nation-states that neglect and abuse the majority of their own citizens. And even in the case of the states that they have no interest in integrating, bad governance is a recipe for refugee/migrant flows, disruption to energy supplies, etc all of which impose huge costs on the EU.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Philip » 26 Sep 2008 12:50

Russia will woo Ukraine to extend the lease of the naval base at Sevastopol.With Yuschenko rapidly losing support in Ukraine,it is only a matter of time before he falls and a govt. that is not "anti-Russian" takes over and this lease extension is approved.

http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.htm ... &PageNum=0

Russia may back fleet’s further stay in Ukraine with advantageous offers
23.09.2008, 18.34

MOSCOW, September 23 (Itar-Tass) -- Russia may present a number of mutually beneficial offers to Ukraine, which would permit the Russian Black Sea Fleet to stay in Sevastopol after 2017, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov told a Tuesday press conference at the Itar-Tass main office.

“We would like the Black Sea Fleet to stay in Sevastopol after 2017 when the related treaty with Ukraine expires,” he said. “Thus, we may present some mutually beneficial offers concerning the rent of the Sevastopol base, the development of the social infrastructure and cooperation in the defense industry, shipbuilding and some other spheres.”

The Russian-Ukrainian treaty of May 28, 1997, permits the Russian Black Sea Fleet to stay in Sevastopol until 2017.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Igorr » 27 Sep 2008 01:49

Month long 'antiterrorist' exersises Stability-2008 involved 30 000 personal from Ice Ocean to Kamchatka. RussiaToday TV:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyow0fxB1BM

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 28 Sep 2008 22:12


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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Philip » 03 Oct 2008 13:31

"Beauty and the Best"...A Ukranian fairy tale!

Yulia Tymoshenko,Ukraine's sweetheart,is fighting a war against her former political partner,"Yanqui" Yuschenko,whom she accuses of being intoxicated with the poison of unlimited power.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/w ... 870288.ece

Yulia Tymoshenko and Viktor Yushchenko squabble over who is using the plane
(Sergey Dolzhenko)
The two politicians have pushed and pulled on every major issue facing Ukraine
Roger Boyes in Moscow

They made a striking pair of revolutionaries: Yulia Tymoshenko with her long blonde hair braided in the traditional Ukranian manner, and Viktor Yushchenko, his face addled by a sinister poisoning attempt.

But the heroes of the 2004 Orange revolution have been fighting like Punch and Judy.

The battle between the two leaders of Ukraine took a bizarre turn yesterday when President Yushchenko snatched a government plane that was supposed to be used by Prime Minister Tymoshenko for a crucial trip to Moscow.

The president's version of the incident is that his own plane — due to take him to Lviv in western Ukraine — developed a mechanical fault, forcing him to return to Kiev and take the first available alternative. That just happened to be the Ilyushin-62 earmarked for the Prime minister. Ms Tymoshenko was effectively grounded until a small Cessna could be chartered to do the job.


Ukraine government collapses over Georgia
EU fails to offer Ukraine membership
Ukraine coalition government teeters

"The plane has been taken away from the government delegation in order deliberately to thwart the negotiations(in Russia)," said the government press secretary, Maryna Soroka.

The two politicians, nicknamed Beauty and the Beast at the time of the Orange revolution, have since pushed and pulled on almost every major issue facing Ukraine, arguing about privatisation, the powers of president and premier, gas and oil supplies as well as countless official appointments. The government — a coalition between Ms Tymoshenko's party and that of Mr Yushchenko — has foundered and the insults have been flying thick and fast.

A key source of conflict is over the relationship to Moscow.

When Ms Tymoshenko eventually got to Moscow yesterday the talks with Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, centred on a four year supply contract for Russian gas, to begin next year.Ms Tymoshenko, according to the newspaper Kommersant Ukraine, is aiming for a direct relationship between Naftogaz, the Ukrainian national oil and gas concern, and Russian Gazprom. The deal, if clinched, would allow Naftogaz to re-export the gas to the European Union jointly with Gazprom. But Russia is also pressing for the gas to be set at market rather than contractual prices and for a quick repayment of Ukraine's dollars 1.8 billion debt to Gazprom for gas supplied in 2008.

Since Russia has in the past used gas supply as an instrument of policy against neighbouring states, the talks are being watched closely by the whole of the Ukrainian political class. The key question is whether Ms Tymoshenko will give too much ground to the Kremlin. President and Prime Minister are at loggerheads over Mr Yushchenko's openly critical view of Moscow's intervention in Georgia. In August he told the Times that the war was a compelling reason for accepting Ukrainian membership of Nato. Ms Tymoshenko on the other hand has voiced almost no criticism of the Kremlin about the Georgian crisis.

This prompted accusations from presidential advisers that Ms Tymoshenko was soft-peddling on Russia in order to win Russian cash and government support for her bid to supplant Mr Yushchenko as president. Elections have to be held before 2010 and jostling for position has already begun. The Secret Service has been asked to investigate whether the prime minister had acted "to damage the country's national interests." Last month the President said Ms Tymoshenko's actions were "aimed at destabilising the situation" and were tantamount to treason.

The Prime Minister in turn questioned the state of the President's mental health. And in a particularly low blow she mocked the nearly fatal dioxin poisoning attempt on Mr Yushchenko. The attempt, still not fully explained, has left his face badly disfigured.

"The main poisoning is the poison of unlimited power, a serious intoxication in the presidential secretariat," she said.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Igorr » 04 Oct 2008 13:44

RUssian ethnic refugees flee Georgia because discrimination:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5JHGBwQwMo&sdig=1

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 04 Oct 2008 18:05

MEDVEDEV'S PLANS FOR MILITARY REARMAMENT

This week Medvedev told top military commanders in the Kremlin that outside hostile forces "will not forgive" Russia's actions against Georgia, "but we must not be distressed; this was expected." Medvedev believes, "Russia must be big and strong, or it will not exit at all" and greedy foreigners will grab its riches. "The old world order was shattered in August," Medvedev told his military chiefs. "A new one is emerging more secure and just," based on Russian actions in Georgia (www.kremlin.ru, September 30). The new brave world has arrived, according to the Kremlin. Russia needs new nukes and air superiority to survive “big and strong.”

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 04 Oct 2008 18:08

Putin: Ukraine gave military aid to Georgia in war with Russia
http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/1003/p99s01-duts.html

"I don't think there is a graver crime than supplying arms to a conflict zone," Putin told his Ukrainian counterpart, Yulia Tymoshenko, during their meeting at the Russian premier's residence near Moscow.

He also said that he regretted "that Ukraine thought it acceptable to supply weapons to the conflict zone."

Putin also said Moscow had evidence proving that Ukrainian military experts were present in the conflict zone during the five-day war that began when Georgian forces attacked breakaway South Ossetia.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 05 Oct 2008 10:21

Why Russia Plays Nicer
http://www.newsweek.com/id/162318

Is the Kremlin turning dovish in its most recent confrontation with the West? After two months of high tensions following Russia's invasion of Georgia, there are signs that President Dmitry Medvedev is finally trying to rebuild diplomatic bridges.

Russia's already agreed to pull back from self-declared "buffer zones" around the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and last week it allowed 200 EU observers to start supervising that withdrawal. An informal working group, led by Medvedev's deputy chief of staff, has also been discussing measures to repair damaged relations. One olive branch under consideration, according to Kremlin-connected commentator Konstantin Remchukov, is to allow more Western participation in Russian gas- and oil-exploration projects like the Shtokman gas field under the Arctic Sea. Another possibility would be to fire some of the more-hawkish ministers, notably the abrasive Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Moscow's retreat has been spurred by a lack of foreign support for Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as well as a stock-market crash following the invasion. The crash showed that Russia is inextricably linked to the world financial system, which is dominated by Western money. Still, Russia refuses to renounce its recognition of the breakaway republics, or its insistence on placing military bases there. But it seems the Kremlin is realizing that it has too much to lose from a total breakdown in relations with what Putin still calls "our Western partners."

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 05 Oct 2008 20:07

Russia finds unlikely ally in Ukraine's Tymoshenko

By Christian Lowe - Analysis

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin has struck a tactical alliance with its former foe Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko designed to help her become the next president and help Russia rein in Ukraine's drive to embrace the West.

Tymoshenko and the Kremlin have put aside years of mutual suspicion to unite against Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, the driving force behind Kiev's ambitions to join NATO and Tymoshenko's rival in a bitter struggle for power.

The new warmth was on show on Thursday when Tymoshenko -- who two years ago accused Russia of extorting cash from Ukraine in a row over gas -- had a cordial meeting with her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin followed by unscheduled, late-night talks with President Dmitry Medvedev.

"The tactical interests of Moscow and Tymoshenko have coincided. They have the same main opponent and that is Yushchenko," said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the journal Russia in Global Affairs.

The calculations of both sides are focused on the next presidential vote, which must take place no later than January 2010. The field could include Yushchenko, Tymoshenko and Viktor Yanukovich, a former prime minister.

The Kremlin backed Yanukovich's failed bid to win a 2004 presidential election, but opinion polls suggest he does not have enough support outside the Russian-speaking areas of the country to win the presidency now.

"Moscow cannot find common ground with Yushchenko and is waiting for a new president to appear," said Oleksander Dergachyov, an independent analyst in Kiev.

"Tymoshenko is, of course, not the sole alternative, but her candidature is a good one against the background of Yushchenko." Continued...
http://www.reuters.com/article/reutersE ... GP20081005

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 08 Oct 2008 07:31

While the debates about Europe, US, Russia and global security were in full swing in the Krakow Castle, the US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice contributed a large article to the most popular Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza on September 26 (you can see the English version of the article at www.wyborcza.pl). As usual she did not spare strong-worded statements against Russia but an interesting phrase in her speech was that ‘mistakes were made on both sides,” which suggests a change of opinion among the international community and consequently and change in the support to Georgia. Georgia is becoming seen as a participant of the provocation rather than merely a victim of Russian aggression.


http://www.geotimes.ge/index.php?m=home&newsid=12870

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby renukb » 08 Oct 2008 10:04

The Great Game in the Caucasus: Bad Moves by Uncle Sam
By CONN HALLINAN


http://www.counterpunch.org/hallinan10072008.html

The tale of what the Bush Administration is up to in the Caucasus is slowly filtering out, although the U.S. press has largely deep-sixed the story. The recent Georgia-Russia war was just one move in a chess game aimed at cornering the energy reserves of Central Asia, extending the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to Moscow’s vulnerable southern border, and ending Russia’s control of the Black Sea. Georgia was just a pawn—an expendable one at that— in a high stakes game.

While the White House and some in the European Union (EU) represent the recent war as one between an increasingly powerful Russia reasserting itself in its former empire versus a small, democratic nation trying to recover two of its former provinces, that story is fraying a bit. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was recently condemned by the EU’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights for undemocratic practices, and a recent NATO analysis of the war supports the Russian charge that Tbilisi started the whole affair. The maneuvers that led to the war, however, have gone largely unreported.

Shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the U.S. moved into Kazakhstan, Central Asia’s richest energy producer. U.S. oil companies, including Chevron, showed up in an effort to pry Kazakhstan away from its leading partners, China and Russia. Kazakh President Nurusultan Nazabayev was wined and dined, campaigning to get his country to send its oil through the trans-Caucasus Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, thus bypassing Russia and putting China’s energy jugular in Western hands.

The U.S. put a full-court press on oil-rich Azerbaijan as well.

Georgia was on the chess board because the BTC runs thorough that country’s south. The U.S. cemented control over the pipeline by helping to sponsor the “Rose Revolution” that brought Saakashvili to power in 2003.

But there was more than oil at stake in all this.

Starting almost a decade ago, the U.S. began pressuring fellow NATO member Turkey to modify or abrogate a rather obscure treaty called the Montreux Convention, a 1936 agreement that gives Turkey the right to restrict the passage of warships through the Bosporus Straits and the Dardanelles. The Convention has allowed Turkey and Russia to control the Black Sea and to prevent any foreign power from establishing a major presence there.

The U.S., which was not a party to the original treaty, has pressed Turkey to let it turn the Black Sea into a NATO lake. Turkey is a NATO member, as are Bulgaria and Rumania. The U.S. already has military bases in Romania. If the Bush Administration had succeeded in bringing the Ukraine and Georgia into the Alliance, NATO would have checkmated the Russian fleet at Sevastopol, restricting its access to the Mediterranean and isolating it from the Middle East.


However, the Americans play a lousy game of chess, particularly if some of the pieces on its side of the board have different agendas.

Take Turkey, for instance.

Ankara has not only shown no inclination to dump the Montreux Convention, it has proposed a “Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Pact” that would sideline NATO in favor of a settlement by regional powers. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan presented the proposal to Moscow shortly after the war.

“The chief value in the Turkish initiative,” said Russian Foreign Minster Sergei Lavrov, is that it is “common sense” and assumes that “countries belonging to the region themselves should decide how to conduct affairs there.”

Lavrov went on to add two other “regional” issues that could be dealt with using a similar framework: Iraq and Iran.

That the Turkish proposal caught the Americans by surprise is an indication of how the U.S. failed to understand how complex the game of chess is in that region of the world. Turkey is indeed a member of NATO, but it also has its own national interests to consider.


While Turkish trade with Georgia is $1 billion a year, it’s almost $40 billion with Russia. Turkey also gets 70 per cent of its natural gas from Russia. Turkey and Russia have long dominated the Black Sea, and both see it as central to their economic and security interests. If the U.S. moves large numbers of warships into the area, it won’t just be the Russians who lose control of that body of water.

Neither are the Turks eager to modify international treaties like the Montreux Convention. Doing so, writes M.K. Bhadrakumar, a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service and a former ambassador in the region, “would open a Pandora’s Box. It might well turn out to be a step towards reopening the Lausanne Treaty of 1923, the cornerstone which erected the modern Turkish state out of the debris of the Ottoman Empire.”

According to Bhadrakumar, the U.S. plan was to bring Kazakhstan into NATO as well. The Kazakh-Russian border is the longest land border shared by any two nations in the world. “It would be a nightmare for Russian security if NATO were to gain a foothold in Kazakhstan,” he says.

In short, what the U.S. is up to is the 21st century’s version of the “Great Game,” the competition that pitted 19th century imperial powers against one another in a bid to control Central Asia and the Middle East.

The move to surround Russia and hinder China’s access to energy is part of the Bush Administration’s 2002 “West Point Doctrine,” a strategic posture aimed at preventing the rise of any economic or military competitors.

When U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently said that Russia was facing international isolation over the Georgia war, she was whistling past the graveyard. Rather than being isolated, the Russians have been lining up allies among the very states the U.S. had hoped would join it in ringing the Russians with newly recruited NATO allies.

During the recent meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the Tajikistan capital of Dushanbe, Kazakh President Nurusultan Nazarbayev assured the Russians they could rely on Kazakhstan for support. “I am amazed that the West simply ignored the fact that Georgian armed forces attacked the peaceful city of Tskhinvali,” said Nazarbayev, “Kazakhstan understands all the measures that have been taken [by Russia] and supports them.”

The SCO is made up of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Azerbaijan, another major target for the U.S., has kept quiet on the Georgian War, but announced that it was reducing the amount of oil and gas it was shipping through the BTC pipelines and increasing its shipments through Russia and Iran. “We knew there was a risk of political turmoil in Georgia, but we did not expect war,” Elhar Nasirov, vice-president of Azerbaijan’s state oil company, Socar, told the Financial Times. “It’s not a good idea to have all your eggs in one basket, especially when that basket is so fragile.”

If both Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan balk at using the BTC, it could not only derail U.S. strategy in the region, but the pipeline itself.

While NATO has tried to put up a united front on Georgia, the Alliance is deeply split between the U.S., Britain, Poland and the Baltic States on one side, and France, Germany, Italy, and Spain on the other. In part, the reluctance of the latter group to join Washington’s crusade against Moscow is based on self-interest. Russia is an important trading partner and provides Europe with much of its energy.

But a number of European countries are also having serious doubts about Georgia’s leader. According to Der Spiegel, NATO intelligence sources back the Russian account of the war, not Georgia’s. “Five weeks after the war in the Caucasus the mood is shifting against Georgian President Saakashvilli,” the newspaper wrote on Sept. 15.

This shift in sentiment has even been voiced in the U.S. Congress, although it has yet to be reported in any major U.S. media. Addressing the Senate Armed Services Committee Sept. 9, Senator Hillary Clinton said it was not “smart” to isolate Russia over the war and pointedly asked, “Did we embolden the Georgians in any way?” Clinton called for a commission to look into the origins of the war, echoing a similar call by Europe’s foreign ministers meeting in the French city of Avignon.

At a meeting of the EU’s inter-governmental commission in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said it was important to “strengthen the partnership between the European Union and Russia, and France and Russia.”

While a Harris Poll shows that some Europeans are now “more concerned” with Russia than they were before the war, the same poll shows the U.S. is still considered a far more serious “threat to global stability.” The poll also indicates overwhelming opposition in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Britain to increasing military spending in the aftermath of the Georgian war. Indeed, any government that presses for a more aggressive posture toward Russia, or knuckes under to Washington’s pressure to increase military spending, is likely to find itself out of power.

The Georgian war, like the Iraq war, were disasters brought on by a combination of imperial arrogance and fundamental cluelessness. The U.S. now finds itself locked into a military stalemate in Iraq and Afghanistan, increasingly isolated in the Middle East and Central Asia, and enmeshed in one of the greatest financial meltdowns in its history.

Check.

This is how empires end.


Conn Hallinan says he’s a “foreign policy analyst” but don’t hold that against him. Co-editor Cockburn has known Conn, aka Ringo, since they went on Aldermaston peace marches together in the late 1950s, together with Conn’s brother Terrence, later the two-term D.A. of San Francisco. Hallinan can be reached at ringoanne@sbcglobal.net

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby prabir » 08 Oct 2008 20:16

renukb wrote:
While the debates about Europe, US, Russia and global security were in full swing in the Krakow Castle, the US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice contributed a large article to the most popular Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza on September 26 (you can see the English version of the article at http://www.wyborcza.pl). As usual she did not spare strong-worded statements against Russia but an interesting phrase in her speech was that ‘mistakes were made on both sides,” which suggests a change of opinion among the international community and consequently and change in the support to Georgia. Georgia is becoming seen as a participant of the provocation rather than merely a victim of Russian aggression.


http://www.geotimes.ge/index.php?m=home&newsid=12870


Economics drive modern political relations. US has a lot of mess to clear, so such soothing ideas will come from their side. The bullying power will go down as economic problems multiply. When bullying power goes down, "prescriptive power" like do this or do that will also go down. Finance 101 lessons were granted by "executives" from companies that have gone down under. They violated every fundamental economic principle on the premise that because of their "bullying and prescriptive power" they could always find a "bigger fool". Now that cycle is ending as even "allies" want to hedge their risk across a "currency basket". :-)

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Philip » 09 Oct 2008 15:16

Caucasus crisis in the Ukraine,as the govt. collapses and new elections are to be held.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world
Ukrainian president orders early election

President Viktor Yushchenko dissolves parliament after acrimonious collapse of coalition with bloc led by Yulia Tymoshenko

Luke Harding in Moscow guardian.co.uk, Thursday October 09 2008

The Ukrainian president, Victor Yushchenko, heaped blame for the political crisis on Tymoshenko. Photograph: Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA

Ukraine is in the grip of fresh political turmoil after the president, Viktor Yushchenko, dissolved parliament last night and today ordered an early parliamentary election on December 7.

His move was widely expected. It follows the acrimonious collapse of the ruling coalition between Yushchenko's party and the bloc led by Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine's prime minister and the president's former Orange ally.

The government fell apart last month when Tymoshenko voted with the opposition Party of the Regions to strip the president of several powers. Yushchenko ordered pre-term elections after the parties failed to agree a new coalition.

The election will be the third in Ukraine in three years. Today analysts said Yushchenko's decision to call an early poll was an attempt to undermine Tymoshenko ahead of the 2010 presidential elections, which Tymoshenko is likely to win.

The two have been embroiled in a power struggle since early summer. In a brief, seven-minute TV address last night, Yushchenko heaped blame for the political crisis on Tymoshenko. He described her government as "undemocratic" and "populist".

He added bitterly: "I am convinced, deeply convinced that the democratic coalition was ruined by one thing alone - human ambition. The ambition of one person."

The US and European countries will be watching the latest crisis in Ukraine with unease. The post-Soviet country has been at the forefront of western policy-making since Russia's invasion of Georgia in August, amid fears that Moscow might target it next.

The foreign secretary, David Miliband, recently travelled to Kiev to lend his support to Ukraine's Nato aspirations. He also harshly attacked the Kremlin's new imperial doctrine that it has "privileged interests" in neighbouring post-Soviet states.

Last night, however, the US ambassador in Kiev conceded that the serial political turmoil in Ukraine made it less likely the country would be accepted into Nato's membership action programme when foreign ministers from Nato countries meet to consider it in December.

The US administration has been the strongest advocate of Ukraine's Nato ambitions - in the face of scepticism from several European countries led by Germany and France. The country's internal instability could cost it Nato membership, the US ambassador, William Taylor, said yesterday.

Today Tammy Lynch, a Ukraine analyst and senior fellow at Boston University, said the crisis would have a "negative impact in Crimea, where the majority of residents are Russian-speaking and there have been growing calls for independence. It will allow Russia to increase its foothold in Crimea."

The early election would also rock the country's already jittery financial markets, she added. The stock market shut down yesterday as the hryvnia currency plunged to an all-time low against the dollar.

There would also be concerns that the crisis could disrupt the supply of gas via Ukraine to the EU, and unravel the complicated outline agreement just signed by Tymoshenko and Russia's prime minister, Vladimir Putin, in Moscow, she said. Under the deal, Ukraine will purchase gas from Russia at below-market prices for the next three years.

Today Tymoshenko's party said the early elections would not help the president, who is widely unpopular. Opinion polls indicate that Tymoshenko and the Party of Regions, led by the former prime minister Viktor Yanukovich, are likely to win December's pre-term election.

"We deem this step anti-constitutional and senseless," Andriy Portnov, the deputy leader of the Tymoshenko bloc parliamentary faction, said of the decision to hold an early poll. "What has happened was certainly provoked by the president. It is he who stands behind the coalition's break-up." He predicted: "It won't help him."

Meanwhile,Russian pres.Medvedev,proposes a new European security pact.

Medvedev promotes new security pactJulian Borger, diplomatic editor and Luke Harding in Moscow The Guardian, Thursday October 9 2008
Article history
Russia's president, Dmitry Medvedev, outlined plans yesterday for a new security pact to ban the use of force in Europe and defuse increasing tensions between Moscow and Nato.

Yesterday's speech at the World Policy Conference in Evian, France, was intended as a bridge-building exercise after Russia's occupation of Georgia in August, which threatened a new cold war.

Medvedev promised that by midnight last night Russian troops would leave "security zones" in the undisputed areas of Georgian territory. However, the Georgian government claimed the withdrawal was only partial and that Russian troops showed no signs of leaving the strategic outpost of Akhalgori, near the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, and outside the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Russian authorities also continued to block EU monitors from entering South Ossetia and Abkhazia (recognised as independent states by Moscow), which have been at the centre of the Russia-Georgia conflict. European diplomats said the monitors would try to cross the lines again soon.

"We are absolutely not interested in confrontation," said Medvedev, devoting much of his speech to giving details of a new European security agreement that he first mentioned earlier in the year.

The new European pact would include "a clear affirmation of the inadmissibility of the use of force - or the threat of force - in international relations" and would be built on the principle of the territorial integrity of independent nations.

It would also prevent "the development of military alliances to harm the security of other members of the treaty" - a clear reference to Nato expansion, which Moscow sees as a significant threat to its security.

Western diplomats said the proposals remained vague, and sounded unlikely to gain wide support in Europe. The US, Britain and eastern Europe in particular refuse to contemplate a Russian veto on Nato membership for states such as Ukraine or Georgia.

A Russian official said the Medvedev initiative was a "work in progress" currently being discussed in European capitals. Britain's foreign secretary, David Miliband, talked it over with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, at the UN last month. The aim, the Russian official said, was to elicit responses and then invite European leaders to a summit, probably after a new US administration takes office in January.

"This is a highly revisionist speech," said David Clark, the chairman of the Russia Foundation, a London-based thinktank. "It's clearly an attempt to rewrite the post-cold war settlement. A lot of what Medvedev is talking about was in the Charter of Paris in 1990." The charter paved the way for the new Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

"Moscow wants a security relationship dependent on power rather than values," Clark added. "The Russian government has been hostile to the OSCE since about 2003-04, when it started to criticise Russian elections."

The Russian official said that in recent years that the OSCE had tilted from a military-political organisation to an organisation promoting human rights and democracy.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Suppiah » 09 Oct 2008 16:49

prabir wrote:
Economics drive modern political relations. US has a lot of mess to clear, so such soothing ideas will come from their side. The bullying power will go down as economic problems multiply. When bullying power goes down, "prescriptive power" like do this or do that will also go down. Finance 101 lessons were granted by "executives" from companies that have gone down under. They violated every fundamental economic principle on the premise that because of their "bullying and prescriptive power" they could always find a "bigger fool". Now that cycle is ending as even "allies" want to hedge their risk across a "currency basket". :-)


Both sides are trying to move away from confrontation, this game of fake attacks and equally fake retreats will go on as it went on during Cold War. No one will pull the trigger (unless it is to shoot some small time idiot to send a message to the big one on the other side). Bit like the scene from Kurosawa's Yojimbo where both sides in the village do elaborate dances with swords but dare not attack each other. Russia has also been making steady noises about volunteering cooperation on various fronts, asking Georgia issue to be confined to Georgia. It has also allowed much more access to European monitors than originally agreed.

Much has been said about the US crisis - it is a 800 pound gorilla having bad digestion attack not a half-dead basket case suffering from some terminal illness like our Stalinists here (and some wishful thinkers elsewhere) like to believe. If a country like Thailand can recover from much worse mess in 5-6 yrs, US can do so much faster. You will see...

The ultimate irony may see Russia suffer much more from this crisis as it has ravaged oil prices and inward investments. Unlike US which can replace Bush with Obama/McCain, and not bat an eyelid, regime change is much bigger catastrophe in commie and almost-commie lands..

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby kshirin » 09 Oct 2008 20:06

Good Stratfor article - moral of the story, if Germany can bat for its national interest despite its dependence on US/NATO, we shouldn't shy away from thumbing our nose if need be - the posts on the nuclear deal are revealing:

The German Question October 6, 2008 By George Friedman

German Chancellor Angela Merkel went to St. Petersburg last week for meetings with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. The central question on the table was Germany’s position on NATO expansion, particularly with regard to Ukraine and Georgia. Merkel made it clear at a joint press conference that Germany would oppose NATO membership for both of these countries, and that it would even oppose placing the countries on the path to membership. Since NATO operates on the basis of consensus, any member nation can effectively block any candidate from NATO membership.

The fact that Merkel and Germany have chosen this path is of great significance. Merkel acted in full knowledge of the U.S. view on the matter and is prepared to resist any American pressure that might follow. It should be remembered that Merkel might be the most pro-American politician in Germany, and perhaps its most pro-American chancellor in years. Moreover, as an East German, she has a deep unease about the Russians. Reality, however, overrode her personal inclinations. More than other countries, Germany does not want to alienate the United States. But it is in a position to face American pressure should any come.

Energy Dependence and Defense Spending

In one sense, Merkel’s reasons for her stance are simple. Germany is heavily dependent on Russian natural gas. If the supply were cut off, Germany’s situation would be desperate — or at least close enough that the distinction would be academic. Russia might decide it could not afford to cut off natural gas exports, but Merkel is dealing with a fundamental German interest, and risking that for Ukrainian or Georgian membership in NATO is not something she is prepared to do.

She can’t bank on Russian caution in a matter such as this, particularly when the Russians seem to be in an incautious mood. Germany is, of course, looking to alternative sources of energy for the future, and in five years its dependence on Russia might not be nearly as significant. But five years is a long time to hold your breath, and Germany can’t do it.

The German move is not just about natural gas, however. Germany views the U.S. obsession with NATO expansion as simply not in Germany’s interests.

First, expanding NATO guarantees to Ukraine and Georgia is meaningless. NATO and the United States don’t have the military means to protect Ukraine or Georgia, and incorporating them into the alliance would not increase European security. From a military standpoint, NATO membership for the two former Soviet republics is an empty gesture, while from a political standpoint, Berlin sees it as designed to irritate the Russians for no clear purpose.

Next, were NATO prepared to protect Ukraine and Georgia, all NATO countries including Germany would be forced to increase defense expenditures substantially. This is not something that Germany and the rest of NATO want to do.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Germany spent 1945-1992 being the potential prime battleground of the Cold War. It spent 1992-2008 not being the potential prime battleground. Germany prefers the latter, and it does not intend to be drawn into a new Cold War under any circumstances. This has profound implications for the future of both NATO and U.S.-German relations.

Germany is thus in the midst of a strategic crisis in which it must make some fundamental decisions. To understand the decisions Germany has to make, we need to understand the country’s geopolitical problem and the decisions it has made in the past.

The German Geopolitical Problem

Until 1871, Germany was fragmented into dozens of small states — kingdoms, duchies, principalities, etc. — comprising the remnants of the Holy Roman Empire. The German-speaking world was torn apart by internal tensions and the constant manipulation of foreign powers.

The southeastern part of the German-speaking world, Austria, was the center of the multinational Hapsburg Empire. It was Roman Catholic and was continually intruding into the predominantly Catholic regions of the rest of Germany, particularly Bavaria. The French were constantly poaching in the Rhineland and manipulating the balance of power among the German states. Russia was always looming to the east, where it bordered the major Protestant German power, Prussia. (Poland at the time was divided among Prussia, Russia and Austria-Hungary.) Germany was perpetually the victim of great powers, a condition which Prussia spent the roughly half-century between Waterloo and German unification trying to correct.

To unify Germany, Prussia had to do more than dominate the Germans. It had to fight two wars. The first was in 1866 with the Hapsburg Empire, which Prussia defeated in seven weeks, ending Hapsburg influence in Germany and ultimately reducing Austria-Hungary to Germany’s junior partner. The second war was in 1870-1871, when Prussia led a German coalition that defeated France. That defeat ended French influence in the Rhineland and gave Prussia the space in which to create a modern, unified Germany. Russia, which was pleased to see both Austria-Hungary and France defeated and viewed a united Germany as a buffer against another French invasion, did not try to block unification.

German unification changed the dynamic of Europe. First, it created a large nation in the heart of Europe between France and Russia. United, Germany was economically dynamic, and its growth outstripped that of France and the United Kingdom. Moreover, it became a naval power, developing a substantial force that at some point could challenge British naval hegemony. It became a major exporting power, taking markets from Britain and France. And in looking around for room to maneuver, Germany began looking east toward Russia. In short, Germany was more than a nation — it was a geopolitical problem.

Germany’s strategic problem was that if the French and Russians attacked Germany simultaneously, with Britain blockading its ports, Germany would lose and revert to its pre-1871 chaos. Given French, Russian and British interest in shattering Germany, Germany had to assume that such an attack would come. Therefore, since the Germans could not fight on two fronts simultaneously, they needed to fight a war pre-emptively, attacking France or Russia first, defeating it and then turning their full strength on the other — all before Britain’s naval blockade could begin to hurt. Germany’s only defense was a two-stage offense that was as complex as a ballet, and would be catastrophic if it failed.

In World War I, executing the Schlieffen Plan, the Germans attacked France first while trying to simply block the Russians. The plan was to first occupy the channel coast and Paris before the United Kingdom could get into the game and before Russia could fully mobilize, and then to knock out Russia. The plan failed in 1914 at the First Battle of the Marnes, and rather than lightning victory, Germany got bogged down in a multifront war costing millions of lives and lasting years. Even so, Germany almost won the war of attrition, causing the United States to intervene and deprive Berlin of victory.

In World War II, the Germans had learned their lesson, so instead of trying to pin down Russia, they entered into a treaty with the Soviets. This secured Germany’s rear by dividing Poland with the Soviet Union. The Soviets agreed to the treaty, expecting Adolf Hitler’s forces to attack France and bog down as Germany had in World War I. The Soviets would then roll West after the bloodletting had drained the rest of Europe. The Germans stunned the Russians by defeating France in six weeks and then turning on the Russians. The Russian front turned into an endless bloodletting, and once again the Americans helped deliver the final blow.

The consequence of the war was the division of Germany into three parts — an independent Austria, a Western-occupied West Germany and a Soviet-occupied East Germany. West Germany again faced the Russian problem. Its eastern part was occupied, and West Germany could not possibly defend itself on its own. It found itself integrated into an American-dominated alliance system, NATO, which was designed to block the Soviets. West and East Germany would serve as the primary battleground of any Soviet attack, with Soviet armor facing U.S. armor, airpower and tactical nuclear weapons. For the Germans, the Cold War was probably more dangerous than either of the previous wars. Whatever the war’s outcome, Germany stood a pretty good chance of being annihilated if it took place.

On the upside, the Cold War did settle Franco-German tensions, which were half of Germany’s strategic problem. Indeed, one of the by-products of the Cold War was the emergence of the European Community, which ultimately became the European Union. This saw German economic union and integration with France, which along with NATO’s military integration guaranteed economic growth and the end of any military threat to Germany from the west. For the first time in centuries, the Rhine was not at risk. Germany’s south was secure, and once the Soviet Union collapsed, there was no threat from the east, either.

United and Secure at Last?

For the first time in centuries, Germany was both united and militarily secure. But underneath it all, the Germans retained their primordial fear of being caught between France and Russia. Berlin understood that this was far from a mature reality; it was no more than a theoretical problem at the moment. But the Germans also understand how quickly things can change. On one level, the problem was nothing more than the economic emphasis of the European Union compared to the geopolitical focus of Russia. But on a deeper level, Germany was, as always, caught between the potentially competing demands of Russia and the West. Even if the problem were small now, there were no guarantees that it wouldn’t grow.

This was the context in which Germany viewed the Russo-Georgian war in August. Berlin saw not only the United States moving toward a hostile relationship with Russia, but also the United Kingdom and France going down the same path.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who happened to hold the rotating EU presidency at the time, went to Moscow to negotiate a cease-fire on behalf of the European Union. When the Russians seemed unwilling to comply with the terms negotiated, France became highly critical of Russia and inclined to back some sort of sanctions at the EU summit on Georgia. With the United Kingdom being even more adamant, Germany saw a worst-case scenario looming on the distant horizon: It understood that the pleasant security of the post-Cold War world was at an end, and that it had to craft a new national strategy.

From Germany’s point of view, the re-emergence of Russian influence in the former Soviet Union might be something that could have been blocked in the 1990s, but by 2008, it had become inevitable. The Germans saw that economic relations in the former Soviet Union — and not only energy issues — created a complementary relationship between Russia and its former empire. Between natural affinities and Russian power, a Russian sphere of influence, if not a formal structure, was inevitable. It was an emerging reality that could not be reversed.

France has Poland and Germany between itself and Russia. Britain has that plus the English Channel, and the United States has all that plus the Atlantic Ocean. The farther away from Russia one is, the more comfortable one can be challenging Moscow. But Germany has only Poland as a buffer. For any nation serious about resisting Russian power, the first question is how to assure the security of the Baltic countries, a long-vulnerable salient running north from Poland. The answer would be to station NATO forces in the Baltics and in Poland, and Berlin understood that Germany would be both the logistical base for these forces as well as the likely source of troops. But Germany’s appetite for sending troops to Poland and the Baltics has been satiated. This was not a course Germany wanted to take.

Pondering German History

We suspect that Merkel knew something else; namely, that all the comfortable assumptions about what was possible and impossible — that the Russians wouldn’t dare attack the Baltics — are dubious in the extreme. Nothing in German history would convince any reasonable German that military action to achieve national ends is unthinkable. Nor are the Germans prepared to dismiss the re-emergence of Russian military power. The Germans had been economically and militarily shattered in 1932. By 1938, they were the major power in Europe. As long as their officer corps and technological knowledge base were intact, regeneration could move swiftly.

The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and its military power crumbled. But as was the case in Weimar Germany, the Russian officer corps remained relatively intact and the KGB, the heart of the Soviet state, remained intact if renamed. So did the technological base that made the Soviets a global power. As with Germany after both world wars, Russia was in chaos, but its fragments remained, awaiting reconstruction. The Germans were not about to dismiss Russia’s ability to regenerate — they know their own history too well to do that.

If Germany were to join those who call for NATO expansion, the first step toward a confrontation with Russia would have been taken. The second step would be guaranteeing the security of the Baltics and Poland. America would make the speeches, and Germans would man the line. After spending most of the last century fighting or preparing to fight the Russians, the Germans looked around at the condition of their allies and opted out.

The Germans see their economic commitment as being to the European Union. That binds them to the French, and this is not a bond they can or want to break. But the European Union carries no political or military force in relation to the Russians. Beyond economics, it is a debating society. NATO, as an institution built to resist the Russians, is in an advanced state of decay. To resurrect it, the Germans would have to pay a steep economic price. And if they paid that price, they would be carrying much of the strategic risk.

So while Germany remains committed to its economic relationship with the West, it does not intend to enter into a military commitment against the Russians at this time. If the Americans want to send troops to protect the Baltics and Poland, they are welcome to do so. Germany has no objection — nor do they object to a French or British presence there. Indeed, once such forces were committed, Germany might reconsider its position. But since military deployments in significant numbers are unlikely anytime soon, the Germans view grand U.S. statements about expanded NATO membership as mere bravado by a Washington that is prepared to risk little.

NATO After the German Shift

Therefore, Merkel went to St. Petersburg and told the Russians that Germany does not favor NATO expansion. More than that, the Germans at least implicitly told the Russians that they have a free hand in the former Soviet Union as far as Germany is concerned — an assertion that cost Berlin nothing, since the Russians do enjoy a free hand there. But even more critically, Merkel signaled to the Russians and the West that Germany does not intend to be trapped between Western ambitions and Russian power this time. It does not want to recreate the situation of the two world wars or the Cold War, so Berlin will stay close to France economically and also will accommodate the Russians.

The Germans will thus block NATO’s ambitions, something that represents a dramatic shift in the Western alliance. This shift in fact has been unfolding for quite a while, but it took the Russo-Georgian war to reveal the change.

NATO has no real military power to project to the east, and none can be created without a major German effort, which is not forthcoming. The German shift leaves the Baltic countries exposed and extremely worried, as they should be. It also leaves the Poles in their traditional position of counting on countries far away to guarantee their national security. In 1939, Warsaw counted on the British and French; today, Warsaw depends on the United States. As in 1939, these guarantees are tenuous, but they are all the Poles have.
The United States has the option of placing a nuclear umbrella over the Baltics and Eastern Europe, which would guarantee a nuclear strike on Russia in the event of an attack in either place. While this was the guarantee made to Western Europe in the Cold War, it is unlikely that the United States is prepared for global thermonuclear war over Estonia’s fate. Such a U.S. guarantee to the Baltics and Eastern Europe simply would not represent a credible threat.
The other U.S. option is a major insertion of American forces either by sea through Danish waters or via French and German ports and railways, assuming France or Germany would permit their facilities to be used for such a deployment. But this option is academic at the moment. The United States could not deploy more than symbolic forces even if it wanted to. For the moment, NATO is therefore an entity that issues proclamations, not a functioning military alliance, in spite of (or perhaps because of) deployments in Afghanistan.
Everything in German history has led to this moment. The country is united and wants to be secure. It will not play the role it was forced into during the Cold War, nor will it play geopolitical poker as it did in the first and second world wars. And that means NATO is permanently and profoundly broken. The German question now turns into the Russian question: If Germany is out of the game, what is to be done about Russia?

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Abhijit » 10 Oct 2008 01:31

wah wah! the sanctimonious and haughty Teutonics are learning the virtues of non-alignment. Maybe Indian babus can give them crash courses. at a steep price of course.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby Suppiah » 10 Oct 2008 08:04

Now Belarus starts hedging bets...interestingly they had not recognised Ossetia/Abkhazia 'independence'. I wonder why Putin is not embarrassed enough to ask Nicaragua and Hugo Chavez to withdraw recognition...not the company you want to keep.. :lol:

http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/article.aspx?id=2756

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby prabir » 11 Oct 2008 03:26

Recognition or no recognition does not matter. Russia got what it wanted.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby sanjaykumar » 11 Oct 2008 03:58

wah wah! the sanctimonious and haughty Teutonics are learning the virtues of non-alignment.



Not so fast mate, with oil at $50 a barrel (inevitable), Teutons will be able to scrape up some of that pride. It would appear lederhosen parades are inversely related to the price of oil.

Russia is also risking bank defaults, quite apart from the oil price.
Last edited by sanjaykumar on 11 Oct 2008 04:51, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby vavinash » 11 Oct 2008 04:45

Russia mostly sells gas. They should be fine. Lets just hope US does not collapse thanks to Iraq fiasco. A little help from russia would hurt them a lot.

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Re: Caucasus Crisis

Postby sanjaykumar » 11 Oct 2008 04:53

Russia exports 12% of the global trade in oil.


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